mdsolar writes: Three aging nuclear reactors in Japan will be decommissioned due to the high cost of upgrading them in line with tougher safety standards set after the Fukushima disaster, their operators said on Tuesday.
Another two reactors were also likely to be scrapped, local media reports said, with announcements expected later in the week.
The moves are the first concrete sign that Japan's nuclear industry is heeding a government request to shut down older reactors that are considered more vulnerable to natural disasters in the hope that it will ease public concerns about a restart of other reactors.
All 48 of Japan's nuclear reactors were taken offline after an earthquake and tsunami set off meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.
As many as two-thirds of the country's reactors may never return to operation because of high costs, local opposition or seismic risks, a Reuters analysis showed last year.
mdsolar writes: Japan will push nuclear operators to draft plans to scrap a quarter of the country's 48 reactors, which are either too old or too costly to upgrade to meet new standards imposed after the Fukushima disaster, the Nikkei reported on Friday.
The government is betting that by forcing older units considered more vulnerable to disaster to shut down it may gain public support to restart newer units, the Nikkei reported.
All reactors in Japan have been shut down after the 2011 nuclear crisis at Fukushima caused by a major earthquake and tsunami.
Public opinion turned against nuclear power after the disaster, but the governments wants to restart units deemed safe by a new more independent regulator and cut Japan's reliance on expensive imports of fossil fuels.
mdsolar writes: A Japanese court has ruled that Fukushima nuclear operator Tokyo Electric was responsible for a woman's suicide after the March 2011 disaster and must pay compensation, in a landmark ruling that could set a precedent for other claims against the utility.
The civil suit by Mikio Watanabe claimed that Tokyo Electric Power Co Inc (9501.T) (Tepco) was to blame for the July 2011 death of his wife, Hamako, 58, who doused herself in kerosene and set herself on fire after falling into depression.
The district court in Fukushima ruled in favor of Watanabe, a court official told reporters. Kyodo news reported that Tepco was ordered to pay 49 million yen ($472,000) in compensation. Watanabe had sought about 91 million yen in damages.
The court decision is the latest blow for the utility, which was bailed out with taxpayer funds in 2012 and expects to spend more than $48 billion in compensation alone for the nuclear disaster.disaster.
The triple nuclear meltdowns forced more than 150,000 people from their homes, about a third of whom remain in temporary housing.
mdsolar writes: Wild monkeys in the Fukushima region of Japan have blood abnormalities linked to the radioactive fall-out from the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster, according to a new scientific study that may help increase the understanding of radiation on human health.
The Japanese macaques (Macaca fuscata) were found to have low white and red blood cell levels and low haemoglobin, which the researchers say could make them more prone to infectious diseases.
mdsolar writes: Stigma, pay cuts, and risk of radiation exposure are among the reasons why 3,000 employees have left the utility at the center of Japan's 2011 nuclear disaster. Now there's an additional factor: better paying jobs in the feel good solar energy industry.
Engineers and other employees at TEPCO, or Tokyo Electric Power Co., were once typical of Japan's corporate culture that is famous for prizing loyalty to a single company and lifetime employment with it. But the March 2011 tsunami that swamped the coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, sending three reactors into meltdown, changed that.
TEPCO was widely criticized for being inadequately prepared for a tsunami despite Japan's long history of being hit by giant waves and for its confused response to the disaster. The public turned hostile toward the nuclear industry and TEPCO, or "Toh-den," as the Japanese say it, became a dirty word.
Only 134 people quit TEPCO the year before the disaster. The departures ballooned to 465 in 2011, another 712 in 2012 and 488 last year. Seventy percent of those leaving were younger than 40. When the company offered voluntary retirement for the first time earlier this year, some 1,151 workers applied for the 1,000 available redundancy packages.
mdsolar writes: "Google Inc. (GOOG) today released images taken by its Street View service from the town of Namie, Japan, inside the zone that was evacuated after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.
Google, operator of the world’s biggest Web search engine, entered Namie this month at the invitation of the town’s mayor, Tamotsu Baba, and produced the 360-degree imagery for the Google Maps and Google Earth services, it said in an e-mailed statement.
All of Namie’s 21,000 residents were forced to flee after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from the town, causing the world’s worst nuclear accident after Chernobyl. Baba asked Mountain View, California-based Google to map the town to create a permanent record of its state two years after the evacuation, he said in a Google blog post."
mdsolar writes: "Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) faces mounting damages from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster as more U.S. servicemembers joined a lawsuit accusing the Japanese national utility of lying about the risks involved in an aid effort to the stricken area in 2011.
Attorneys said the number of plaintiffs had grown to 26 from an initial eight, who filed their original lawsuit in December, and that 100 more were ready to join the lawsuit which is now seeking more than $2 billion, the Stars and Stripes newspaper reported late last week....
The amended lawsuit increases the amount of damages lawyers are seeking for crew aboard the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier and other service vessels in the area who say they are suffering continuing health problems from the rescue effort that followed the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, crippling reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant....
The plaintiffs say they are suffering a range of disorders related to radiation exposure, from headaches and difficulty concentrating to rectal bleeding, thyroid problems, cancer and gynecological bleeding."
mdsolar writes: "Atomic Divorce is the new name for the crushing of the nuclear family in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. ""People are living with constant low-level anxiety. They don't have the emotional strength to mend their relationships when cracks appear," [...] Couples are being torn apart over such issues as whether to stay in the area or leave, what to believe about the dangers of radiation, whether it is safe to get pregnant and the best methods to protect children. "When people disagree over such sensitive matters, there's often no middle way,"" According to Noriko Kubota, a professor of clinical psychology at Iwaki Meisei University."
mdsolar writes: ""Former residents of nursing homes near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant died at a higher rate than usual in 2011, a study has shown, likely because of the stress of evacuation and having to live in temporary accommodations such as draughty school gyms.
Researchers from the Fukushima Medical University studied reports submitted to the Fukushima prefectural government by 34 institutions for the elderly and found that the death rate over eight months in 2011 was 2.4 times that of the same period in 2010.
Furthermore, there was a spike in deaths during the three months immediately following the disaster to three times the level of a year earlier.""
mdsolar writes: ""The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen. A new model presented by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts estimates that 16.2 petabecquerels (1015 becquerels) of radioactive caesium leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere.
Most of that radioactivity dispersed across the Pacific Ocean, where it became diluted to extremely low levels. But in the region of the ocean near the plant, levels of caesium-137 have remained fixed at around 1,000 becquerels, a relatively high level compared to the natural background. Similarly, levels of radioactive caesium in bottom-dwelling fish remain pretty much unchanged more than 18 months after the accident."
mdsolar writes: "Reuters reports "Japan's government said it intends to stop using nuclear power by the 2030s, marking a major shift from policy goals set before last year's Fukushima disaster that sought to increase the share of atomic energy to more than half of electricity supply.
Japan joins countries such as Germany and Switzerland in turning away from nuclear power after last year's earthquake unleashed a tsunami that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. Japan was the third-biggest user of atomic energy before the disaster.
In abandoning atomic power, Japan aims to triple the share of renewable power to 30 percent of its energy mix, but will remain a top importer of oil, coal and gas for the foreseeable future.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's unpopular government, which could face an election this year, had faced intense lobbying from industries to maintain atomic energy and also concerns from its major ally, the United States, which supplied it with nuclear technology in the 1950s."
mdsolar writes: ""The head of the Japanese utility that owns the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant says last year’s meltdowns sapped away money it might have used to switch to alternative energy, making it all the more important for the company to stick with nuclear.
Naomi Hirose, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., said Thursday it is “quite troubling” that the government, responding to public opinion, is moving toward eliminating nuclear power, but he said TEPCO would follow whatever energy policy Japan adopts.""
mdsolar writes: ""The government will not issue binding electricity-saving orders for areas served by Kansai Electric Power Co., whose capacity to meet peak demand this summer is precarious now that the nation's nuclear plants are all shut down, because other utilities will probably be able to provide Kepco with extra power, sources said Thursday.
Still, to prevent blackouts, the government at a ministerial meeting Friday morning will ask households and businesses served by seven utilities, including Kepco, to voluntarily curb power use this summer by setting numerical reduction targets, the sources said.
The move comes as all of the nation's 50 usable commercial nuclear reactors are now shut down amid heightened public safety fears due to the triple-meltdown crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 power plant. Before the crisis, which prompted the government to order all reactors to pass disaster-resistance stress tests, atomic power accounted for some 30 percent of the nation's electricity.
In Kansai Electric's service area, including Osaka, the government plans to ask customers to voluntarily cut usage by 15 percent from [daytime] levels in 2010, when an extremely hot summer hit."
mdsolar writes: ""Japan is set to nationalize Tokyo Electric Power, the operator of the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, under a ¥1 trillion bailout plan approved Wednesday.
The Japanese government has been scrambling to keep the company from collapsing so it can meet the billions of dollars in compensation claims and decommission the meltdown-stricken reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, all while continuing to provide the Tokyo metropolis with stable electricity.
The government is also eager to push through reforms to restore public trust in a company that has played a vital role in Japan’s energy policy but has also admitted to safety lapses and cover-ups at its power plants. But the $12.6 billion bailout comes at a time when the government itself is reeling under a debt burden that has mushroomed to more than twice the size of its economy.""
mdsolar writes: ""Japan will within weeks have no nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years, after the trade minister said two reactors idled after the Fukushima disaster would not be back online before the last one currently operating is shut down.
Trade Minister Yukio Edano signalled it would take at least several weeks before the government, keen to avoid a power crunch, can give a final go-ahead to restarts, meaning Japan is set on May 6 to mark its first nuclear power-free day since 1970.
"If we thoroughly go through the procedure, it would be (on or) after May 6 even if we could restart them," Edano told a news conference, adding that whether they can actually be brought back online is still up to ongoing discussions.
The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered radiation leaks, has hammered public faith in nuclear power and prevented the restart of reactors shut down for regular maintenance checks, with all but one of 54 reactors now offline.""