Tuesday, February 28, 2006

 

Public meetings held in six cities

February 25, the prefectural government held public meetings in the city of Aomori and Rokkasho village. At each meeting, JNFL, central ministries, and the prefectural government explained their standpoint and views on the active testing, and responded to the questions from the audience. The active test, a reprocessing test using real spent fuels, is planned to start in March 2006. Attendants to the meetings are listed below.

Hideo Morimoto: Director, Nuclear Energy Commission Secretariat
Hiroyuki Ito: Chief, Nuclear Energy Commission Secretariat
Tosho Yohsida: Director, Nuclear Energy Safety Commission Secretariat
Michio Sakurada: Director, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Industry Division, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
Mitsuharu Kamata: Director, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Industry Siting Promotion, METI
Shin Morita: Energy Policy Liaison Officer for Aomori, METI
Makoto Furunishi: Director, Nuclear Fuel Cycle Regulation Division, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, METI
Takeshi Ebina: Vice-Governor, Aomori Prefectural Government
Makoto Kosaka: Director, Environment and Residents' Life, Aomori Prefectural Government
Yasuhisa Miura: Director, Health and Welfare, Aomori Prefectural Government
Katsuhiko Nakajima: Director, Commerce and Employment, Aomori Prefectural Government
Yukio Matsumoto: Director, Nuclear Facilities Safety Verification, Aomori Prefectural Government
Isami Kojima: President, JNFL
Mitsuo Suzuki: Executive Vice-President, JNFL
Haruki Aoyagi: Manager, Reprocessing Technology, JNFL
Hiroyuki Nakamura: Manager, Reprocessing Planning, JNFL
Ryuichi Asahi: Manager, Quality Control, JNFL
Toshiharu Miyakawa: Manager, Radiation Control, JNFL
Susumu Tanuma: Manager Nuclear Fuel Cycle Promotion, Federation of Electric Power Companies

Regarding the plan of active testing, JNFL explained how they checked the readiness through chemical and uranium tests and how the active test will be implemented. For example, the test will consist of five steps, each of which will process designated spent fuels. The amount and burn-ups of spent fuels that are to be put into the process are designed to be increased as the test goes onto the latter stage. While the step 1 uses 30t-Upr (tons of uranium preburn) fuels with burn-ups of 12,000~17,000MWd/t and 30,000~33,000MWd/t, step 5 will use 160t-Upr fuels with burn-ups of 20,000~40,000MWd/t. The test procedure will be hold after steps 1 and 2 in order to check if the plant performance meets designed levels. The plant will not go onto the steps 2 and 3 unless the previous test is satisfactory. JNFL also said the results of the tests in steps 1 and 2 will be opened to the public.
Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), the METI's nuclear regulatory arm, explained the reasons why it came to the conclusion that the active testing plan was appropriate. Then the Nuclear Energy Safety Commission secretariat explained how the commission checked NISA's conclusion.
The Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC, the power companies' association) explained the plutonium utilisasion plan, which it reported to the Nuclear Energy Commission in January. The Federation said the plutonium that will be separated from March 2006 to March 2007 in Rokkasho reprocessing plant will be 1.6 tons Puf, and those plutonium will be used to generate energy at 16 to 18 light-water reacters owned and operated by its member power companies. Then the Nuclear Energy Commission secretariat explained about the decision that the commission made on January 24 that the plutonium utilisation plan is legitimate and appropriate.
Finally, the prefectural government introduced the draft "Safety Agreement" that is to be signed between the governor, the Rokkasho mayor, and the president of JNFL prior to the commencement of active testing. The three parties have had a safety agreement on uranium testing and other activities of JNFL, and they need a new active testing safety agreement which is based on the safety agreeement of uranium test. The main changes to the current agreement are revision to the limits of radioactive waste release ratios and requirement for JNFL to reort about the stocks and flow of its products, i.e., uranium oxides and uranium-plutnium mixed-oxides.
Most questions from the audience was on radioactive waste releases to the atmosphere and to the sea. On the following days, same meetings were held in four other cities (Hachinohe and Mutsu on Sunday 26th and Goshogawara and Hirosaki on Monday 27th), too.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

 

Rice farmer claims a sales damage

February 22, a farmer who sells rice to consumers in Tokyo or Osaka directly claimed the prefectural government that she had a sales damage because JNFL went into the uranium testing. According to her proxy, she claims JNFL is responsible for a 55,000 yen sales-loss, because her two customers withdrawn the purchase contracts in the spring 2005 citing anxiety because JNFL had started a test using uranium in December 2004.

 

Governor held his advisory body meeting

February 24 morning, the Governor Mimura had a meeting with the prefecture's nuclear policy concil, which advised the governor that the active testing was appropriate. And in the afternoon, the governor met with municipality mayors in Aomori city.
Some participants expressed the concern about the negative effects of the misleading information on the sales of agricultural and fishery products.

 

JNFL recieved spent fuels

On February 24, JNFL announced it had recieved spent fuels from TEPCO's Fukushima-Dai-Ichi, Fukushima-Dai-Ni and Chubu-Electric Power co.'s Hamaoka nuclear power stations. The amount of spent fuels delivered to the reprocessing plant were 96 BWR fuels (16 tons-Uranium) from FDI, 152 BWR fuels (26 tU) from FDN, and 152 BWR fuels (27 tU) from Hamaoka. Including these fuels, 1643 fuels (BWR and PWR fuels in total) are being stored in the facility.

 

Prefectural assembly discussed with central government officials

February 22, the Aomori Prefectural Assembly met to discuss over active testing with officials from central government ministries, JNFL and FEPC. Most of the discussion was on environmental protection and plutonium utilisation. Assembly member who opose nuclear fuel recycling were three, and other seven were relatively supportive implementing the active test.
On 23rd (Thursday), Rokkasho-mura village assembly was gathered in the same way.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

 

JNFL held meetings with the public

JNFL held public meetings in four places during the weekend (18 and 19 February) to explain the uranium test results and active testing programme. The meetings was held in Rokkasho-mura village, Hachinohe-city, Hirosaki-city and Aomori-city, with about 680 audience in total participated. Most of the questions from the floor were on safety and environmental protection measures.

 

Nuclear Safety Commission backs METI

Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan agreed February 20 that it supports the METI's decision that the active testing plan was appropriate. Mr. Shoichiro Katayama, the secretary-general of the commission, told the story to the governor Mimura at his office.

 

JNFL postponed schedule by one month

February 20, JNFL decided to postpone the schedule by one month. The reprocessing plant will come into comercial operation in August 2007. JNFL also announced the estimated construcction cost would become 2.193 trillion yen, up from 2.190 trillion.

 

Low-level liquide leaked inside the facility

JNFL announced February 20 that it had a leakage trouble in the evening of 17 February. The leakage of low-level liquid waste occurred at the low-level waste treatment building of the reprocessing plant. About 68 litter liquid with minor radioactivity was spilt out from a neutralisation tank. No radioactivity was released to the environment, JNFL says.

Friday, February 17, 2006

 

Governor Mimura and Mayor Furukawa met power company CEOs

On February 17, the governor Mimura and Rokkasho village mayor Furukawa met with CEOs of nuclear power plant operators to confirm if they would certainly consume plutonium and uranium to be separated from spent nuclear fuels at Rokkasho plant. The president of electric power industry (FEPC) and CEO of Tokyo Electric Power co. Mr. Katsumata told at the meeting in Tokyo that the industry will promote the "pul-thermal" program (the use of plutonium-mixed fuels at thermal neutron reactors).
The governor and the mayor then visited the government's Nuclear Energy Commissoiner Dr. Kondo, and the head of Energy Directorate of METI Mr. Kodaira to confirm the decision of the transparent use of plutonium and to ask for the support by the national government.
In the afternoon, the governor got back to Aomori and attended at his advisory group of nulear policy. Officers of JNFL, FEPC, METI and Nuclear Energy Commission secretairat explained the advisory group about the active testing - as they did for the prefectural assembly yesterday. The group will gather again on February 24 to discuss about the test.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

 

JNFL explained its plan to local government assembly member

JNFL, METI and other players explained their plans and policies to the member of Aomori prefectural assembly and Rokkasho village assembly on February 16. JNFL explained the uranium testing results and active testing plan. METI explained the basis of its decision that the active testing plan was appropriate. The Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC) and central government's Atomic Energy Commission secretairat explained the peaceful use of plutonium and its transparency. Next week, the assemblies will have discussion whether or not to give consent on the active testing.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

 

JNFL opened hypothetical trouble list

February 15, JNFL publicly opened a list of potential troubles that could happen during the active testing. The examples of troubles are hypothetical, and they will be used at town meetings during the coming weekend to explain what kind of troubles are supposed and how JNFL respond them with specific countermeasures. The town meetings will be held in four places, in Rokkasho and Hachinohe on February 18, and in Hirosaki and Aomori-city on February 19.

 

JNFL to recieve low-level radioactive waste

February 15, 2006, JNFL announced that it will recieve low-level radioactive wastes from Fukusima-Dai'ichi and Fukushima-Daini nuclear power stations of the Tokyo Electric Power company (TEPCO) to lay them under the ground at Rokkasho-mura. The wastes will be unloaded from a carrier ship from May 6 to May 8 at Mutsu-Ogawara port.

 

METI explained the governor about its safety assessment

February 14, 2006, Mr. Yasuhisa KOMODA, an officer of METI's nuclear safety branch, visited the prefectural governor Mimura's office, and explained the ministry's assessment about JNFL's plan for the active testing at the nuclear fuels reprocessing plant in Rokkasho-mura. Right after the visit, governor Mimura met with Mr. Kojima, the president & CEO of JNFL, to confirm readiness for the company to implement the active testing. Mr. Mimura then released an announcement that he will call the member of Aomori Prefectural Assembly to hold general assembly on February 22nd in order to discuss the prpriety of the the active testing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

 

Active testing was approved by METI

Today, February 13, METI approved JNFL's active testing plan using real spent fuel rods at Rokkasho reprocessing plant. The plan was reported to the ministry on December 22 last year. Since then the ministry has deliberated and reported today the Nuclear Safety Commission that the plan is appropriate.
The report to the commission (in Japanese only) is available at METI web site.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

 

Minister for Economy NIKAI appraised GNEP and MOX.

The minister for economy, trade and industry told reporters on 10 February, that he welcomes the speech by the governor of Saga prefecture of Japan earlier this week that the governor is confident that the safety of the use of MOX fuels at one of the light-water reactors at the nuclear power station in his prefecture will be secured. The ministry is aiming to burn MOX fuels for electricity at 16 to 18 nuclear rectors in Japan by 2010.
Minister Toshihiro NIKAI also said he thinks highly about the US DOE's announcement of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). He added he would appraise the change of the US administration policy toward developing nuclear fuels reprocessing technology.

Friday, February 10, 2006

 

Peer-review report on the reprocessing plant issued

The Japan Nuclear Technology Institute published on February 9 a peer-review report on safety culture at JNFL reprocessing plant. The head of the institute and a former university professor Dr. Michio ISHIKAWA visited the governor Mimura to explain the outcomes of the review.According to the 38-pages-report (in Japanese only), the review team checked safety culture, the methods of improvement of facility performance, and among other things the readiness for the company to implement active testing. The report concluded that JNFL was ready and competent proceeding toward the active testing stage.

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