19 Septembre 2013
September 19, 2013
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Sept. 19 urged Tokyo Electric Power Co. to decommission the two surviving reactors at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant and set a time frame to resolve the radioactive water problem.
Abe requested Naomi Hirose, the TEPCO president, to secure a sufficient budget for safety measures and to deal with the tons of contaminated water accumulating and leaking at the plant.
“In order for them to concentrate on this, I have asked them to decommission the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors that are now halted,” Abe told reporters.
Four reactors were destroyed by meltdowns and hydrogen explosions after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake rocked the Tohoku region and a tsunami slammed into the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The No. 5 and No. 6 reactors were not operating at the time and escaped serious damage.
Abe quoted Hirose as saying that TEPCO “will secure another 1 trillion yen ($10.1 billion) in addition to 1 trillion yen already obtained.” The TEPCO chief also promised that the purification of contaminated water will be completed by the end of fiscal 2014.
Hirose also said TEPCO will make a decision on decommissioning the reactors by the end of the year, according to Abe.
Scrapping the two reactors could complicate a turnaround plan the plant’s operator has presented to creditors.
TEPCO, which has posted more than $27 billion in net losses since the 2011 disaster, is negotiating with a syndicate of Japanese banks for a refinancing of 80 billion yen due next month.
As of April, the company listed 745.5 billion yen in nuclear power generation assets. Those included the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors as well as the utility’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa--the world’s largest nuclear plant--in Niigata Prefecture.
The Fukushima No. 2 and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plants are now halted, and it is uncertain whether they can be restarted in the face of local opposition.
TEPCO has come under heavy criticism for a series of mishaps and delays in releasing information about the situation at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The water leakage problem even threatened to derail Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
After the government decided to take a more central role in the cleanup at the plant, Abe assured International Olympic Committee members on Sept. 7 that the situation at the Fukushima plant “was under control.”
However, Kazuhiko Yamashita, a technology adviser to TEPCO, later said at a meeting with opposition lawmakers, “We regard the current situation as not being under control.”
Still, Abe stood by his words on Sept. 19.
“I will work hard to counter rumors questioning the safety of the Fukushima plant,” he said.
The visit to the stricken plant was Abe’s first since his trip last December shortly after taking office. The prime minister was shown the Alps multi-nuclide removal equipment, which can eliminate 63 radioactive substances from contaminated water but has not been used since corrosion holes were found in one of its storage tanks.
The accident at the nuclear plant, 240 kilometers north of Tokyo, triggered the evacuation of 160,000 people and led to the radioactive contamination of air, sea and food.
Abe asks TEPCO to decommission 2 more reactors
Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has urged the operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to decommission 2 more of its idle reactors.
Abe was speaking to reporters after inspecting the plant on Thursday. Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has been decommissioning the plant's No.1 to 4 reactors.
Abe said he urged the utility to decommission the plant's No.5 and 6 reactors to concentrate efforts to address problems left by the 2011 nuclear accident.
He quoted TEPCO President Naomi Hirose as saying the firm will decide this year how to deal with the 2 reactors.
Abe also said he asked TEPCO to earmark discretionary funds that can be used by managers at the site to implement necessary safety measures. He urged the utility to set a deadline for completing purification of contaminated water stored in tanks at the plant.
Hirose reportedly replied that another 1 trillion yen, or about 10 billion dollars, will be added to funds that the company has already earmarked. He also said the company plans to complete purification by March 2015.
Abe stressed that monitoring data collected in the ocean off Fukushima shows that the radioactive water affects only 0.3 square kilometers in the plant's port. He had explained this to the general assembly of the International Olympic Committee in Argentina this month.
The prime minister added that the government will play a major role in the cleanup and that he will be responsible for handling the issue.
Sep. 19, 2013 - Updated 09:06 UTC
status of Number 5 and 6 reactors
Tokyo Electric Power Company has not said anything officially about what it plans to do with the Number 5 and 6 reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The two reactors were off-line due to regular safety inspections when the earthquake and tsunami hit the power plant on March 11th, 2011. The reactors were stable, in a state of cold shutdown.
In March 2012, TEPCO started procedures for decommissioning reactors Number 1 to 4.
Sep. 19, 2013 - Updated 09:04 UTC