Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hamaoka, 'World's Most Dangerous' Nuclear Power Plant

My sentiments exactly

Yeah, baby.  It's on; now.  Now, one and a half years after the meltdown at Fukushima, after 80,000 evacuated, after grandmothers committing suicide in temporary housing, after 36% of Fukushima children present thyroid abnormalities (up from 0.5%), after 6,000,000 Bq/Kg measured in Tokyo soil; after mortality among high school students includes heart attacks (cesium-137), radioactive rain at 200 mSieverts/hr in Canada, a huge swath of Japan is 3.5 times the legal limit for radiation, and people all over Japan are suffering from nosebleeds, skin rashes, eye problems and hair falling out, after 35% more stillbirths in the NE of Japan, after the government forbade radiation exposure testing or treatment to hundreds of thousands, after Daiichi's fuel pool 4 caught fire, was recognized as a global risk with no solution in sight, and no plan for any of the millions of tons of spent fuel in Japan, after mutated plants are turning up all over Japan and even the U.S., after hundreds of nuclear workers died trying to save Fukushima nuclear power plant.  After all this...

Omaezaki fishermen, chillin' near the plant.
 ...Now, yes now, CEPCO (Chubu Electric Power Co.) is preparing to restart reactors 3, 4 and possibly 5 at Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in December 2013.  They're building an 18 meter (54 foot) high, six foot thick, one mile long steel and concrete seawall in anticipation of another possible tsunami, although according to recent calculations, a 21 meter high tsunami could hit this region.
But summing up the data obtained after the devastating earthquake in March 2011, an expert panel under Japan’s Cabinet Office came to a conclusion this April that a magnitude-9 earthquake could cause a 35 meter tsunami that might eventually hit Tokyo. Some districts of the Japanese capital would face a 30 meter wave, whereas urban areas of the city would be hit with 3 meter waves.  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was hit by a 15 meter tsunami.

A proper caption for this is beyond my powers: Chubu seawall demo.
108 foot high waves submerging Tokyo?  The experts say so; and where Japan is concerned, absolutely, you mustn't rule anything out.  If this happens,  the entire plant will be washed out to sea, no debating allowed.  All the Uranium and Plutonium (Reactor No. 3 uses MOX fuel) would sit in the ocean undisturbed for millennia, leaching out radioactivity.  Say goodbye to the ocean. 
Hamaoka is particularly dangerous, explains local activist Yoshika Shiratori, because it is built on a seismic fault line where Japanese government experts have estimated that there is an 87 percent chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake within the next 30 years.

An aerial map, filed by CEPCO along with its government application to build and operate the plant, showed major faults going through Hamaoka, and revealed that the company recognized the danger of an earthquake. They had carefully placed each reactor between major fault lines.

The "bedrock" the plant is situated on, claimed by Chubu Electric to offer solid support even through an 8.5 magnitude quake, crumbles like sugar between one's fingers, as visitors to the site find.
“I am not reassured by the wall they are building,” says Mr. Shiratori, who led an unsuccessful 10-year legal battle to shut Hamaoka down. “The critical issue is the danger of an earthquake, not a tsunami.” 

The unrelenting Mr. Shiratori; thanks to you it's become an issue.
After accidents at the plant, critical articles were published by seismologist Dr. Kiyoo Mogi, and he had a visit from Chubu Electric, which is recounted here.  They wanted him to reconsider his negative views;
Dr. Mogi was unmoved.  He remarks: The Hamaoka nuclear power plants are standing on top of the area where a magnitude eight class earthquake could hit. This is just extraordinary. When I told this to Chubu Electric employees, they whined, "but we do not have any good place for siting nuclear power plants."

The men of CEPCO; nuclear energy is built on human foundations.

Katsuhiko Ishibashi, professor emeritus of seismology at Kobe University said a restart of the No. 3 reactor was "out of the question" until Chubu had fully implemented emergency steps, reports Asahi Shimbun, a nationwide Japanese newspaper. "It is the world's most dangerous nuclear power plant. All its reactors should have been shut down," he said, warning that the ground on which it sits could rise 10-20 feet if struck by an earthquake.

Possibly, reactor no. 5 will be out of service for good.  After 3/11, PM Naoto Kan, in an unprecedented move, ordered the plant to shut down. As the shutdown of the seven-year-old unit, with a capacity of 1,380 MW started, saltwater used for cooling steam from the boiling water reactor entered the core after a burst pipe damaged one of its heat exchangers.  About 400,000 litres (88,000 gallons) of corrosion-causing sea water entered the turbine building, with 5,000 litres getting into the reactor itself.
This extremely rare event set off an investigation that has unearthed widespread corrosion in the labyrinth of piping, pumps and steel partitions in the reactor building and secondary units.

Chubu Electric says no radiation has leaked to the environment but the discovery of radioactive cobalt below a 13-meter-high cooling tank beside the reactor confirms unusually fast corrosion through the walls of the stainless-steel tank.

To aid in facing the expected upcoming challenges, the plant has held "power-out" drills, simulating a complete loss of electric power, to see how operators will respond during the first two hours.  According to Tokyo Shimbun, simulations show that in a nuclear accident, fallout would reach Tokyo in half a day.

If Cepco wanted to destroy the world this would be a fine place to start; a last-ditch desperate effort.  In all  of Japan (or the world), could there not be any better candidate than this for a restart?  Apparently not..

There is a huge wealth of information on the epic failure that is Hamaoka nuclear power plant, here:

A civic group in Shizuoka Prefecture, led by Mr. Shiratori, collected the signatures of 178, 240 Shizuoka residents in two months, starting from May — far more than the legally required minimum of around 62,000–– in order to request a referendum on the restart of the Hamaoka plant.

If the committees verify the signatures as clearing the requirement, which is set at more than one-fiftieth of the eligible voters, the group plans to ask Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu in August to adopt an ordinance to hold the referendum.

Kawakatsu said he intends to submit a referendum proposal to the prefectural assembly in September after verifying the signatures. But he has not clarified whether he will support it.

Activists at Hamaoka shore release balloons to predict the spread of radioactive materials in the event of an accident.

Now, it's time for our referendum.  Two simple emails should start things going.

Firstly, a local initiative in Omaezaki, offers this:

Then, send an email to Chubu Electric Power Company here:

Send an email to Shizuoka Prefectural Government here:


Friday, August 10, 2012