|the Oi facility. They argued that the reactors, which sit near several active seismic faults, were not effectively protected against earthquakes because Kansai Electric (the owners) had underestimated the likelihood of a severe earthquake that would surpass their design limitations.
This ruling is particularly significant in that these two reactors are the only two Japanese reactors that have resumed operation since all Japanese nuclear reactors were progressively shut down following the Fukushima disaster in 2011. The two Oi reactors were restarted in July 2012, sparking massive protests in Japan; they were again shut down in September 2013 at the start of screening of reactors for which re-starts had been requested by their owners. These screenings are carried out by the government’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) to test whether they meet the Government’s new safety regulations. So far re-stats have been requested for 18 reactors of the 50 that survived the Fukushima disaster.
The court decision seems to preempt this screening process in the case of Oi, but Kansai Electric Power, the owners of the plant, are to appeal and the NRA announced they would continue with their screening of Oi.
Finland: its erstwhile ambitious nuclear programme seems to be running into the sand. It opened its first four nuclear reactors between 1977 and 1980, two Russian Pressurised Water Reactors and two Swedish Boiling Water Reactors. In 2005 it started building a fifth reactor, a reactor, Okiluoto 3, which is of the same European Pressurised Reactor design designed by Areva as EDF plans to build at Hinkley and Sizewell.
However this project has been a disaster: the reactor was supposed to become operational in 2009, but it has been hit by repeated delays and soaring costs and the Finnish utility owning the plant, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) and the Areva-Siemens consortium (AS) building the plant are mutually suing each other for losses caused by the delays and cost overruns – TVO is suing AS for 2.6 billion euros!
This disaster has had consequences: the Finnish parliament had, in 2010, given TVO a permit for a further reactor, Olkiluoto 4, asking the consortium to submit its construction plan in 2015. However, on May 20th this year TVO said it was impossible for it to decide on Okiluoto 4 in time due to the delays in the existing project and asked for a five-year extension in its license to build Okiluoto. This would give it till 2021 to decide whether to go ahead with the project. So the government has the choice as to whether to refuse or limit the extension and risk TVO giving up the project immediately or allow the extension and risk TVO deciding to abandon the project in 2021.
The following day, May 21st, the Finnish state-controlled utility Fortum announced it had terminated its deal with the Areva-Siemens consortium to carry out modernisation project on the Loviisa in Southern Finland because it would take too long otherwise. They appointed the UK firm Rolls-Royce in its stead.
On May 26th another nuclear project in Sweden, was under threat after the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) issued a critical report on plans by the Fennovoima consortium to build a third nuclear power station in Finland, at Hanhikivi.
The report states that changes are required to the design of the plant in order to meet Finnish safety requirements. Such issues are the measures against an aircraft collision, internal flooding and fires, as well as severe accident management. It also says that Fennovoima must strengthen its expertise and develop its management system in order to gain the necessary ability to assess and ensure the safety of the new nuclear power plant and to produce and submit to STUK the materials needed for the construction license.
Meanwhile the Green Party is threatening to quit the five-party Finnish coalition if Fennovoima’s revised application to build is approved. (In March 2014 the Russian company Rosatom took over a major shareholding in the company and was given the contract to build its own design pressurised water reactor. Previously the German company E.On had been a major shareholder but had sold its stake in 2012.)
Canada: Plans to build two new reactors at Darlington Nuclear Power Station in Canada received a set-back when a judge at the federal court ordered Ontario Power Generation to do more work on its proposal to build the new reactors, citing in particular the lack of firm plans to deal with nuclear waste from the reactors. In a 211-page ruling he ordered a federal review panel to re-consider that and other issues.
The Nuclear Waste Management Organisation has the job of dealing with spent fuel from all Canada’s nuclear power stations. It plans to store all this spent fuel in a single deep depository, but, as in the UK, such a site has yet to be identified.
The Judge, Justice Russell, however said that the waste question is not a separate issue to be dealt with later and the current environmental assessment of the proposed new reactors “is the only occasion, in relation to this project, on which political decision-makers at the federal level will be asked to decide whether that waste should be generated in the first place…They must be in a position to understand whether they are being asked to take a leap of faith and, if so, how big a leap of faith that is.”
He found that the federal panel “did not address the long-term management and disposal of used nuclear fuel…and [therefore] must supplement its report accordingly.”
He also found that the panel should have done more analysis of the possibility of an unlikely, but catastrophic, accident at the nuclear site.
The decision was hailed by the environmental groups who brought the application.
WHAT’S THIS? On 13th March a train like the following was filmed on a working from Avonmouth Docks to Crewe. The train-spotter who filmed said that it was carrying spent fuel rods from nuclear submariines at Devonport up to Sellafield but then why is it going via Avonmouth?
and Nuclear Power
The monthly mailing of the Nuclear Trains Action Group of London Region CND.
NTAG, Mordechai Vanunu House, 162 Holloway Road, London N7 8DQ; tel. 020-7607 2302.
Editor: David Polden May 2014
NEXT NUCLEAR TRAIN STALL AND LEAFLETTING
Saturday July 26th, 11am-1pm: outside Bromley South Station. Nuclear trains go past this station. Stall organised in conjunction with Bromley and Beckenham CND..
REGULAR FRIDAY SOLIDARITY VIGIL
Every Friday (since August 2012) 10am-12.20pm, outside Japanese Embassy, 101-104 Piccadilly (Green Park tube); then walk to offices of Tokyo Electric Power Company [TEPCO], the owners of Fukushima, in nearby Berkeley Square for further vigil, 12.30-1pm. Vigil in solidarity with anti-nuclear movement in Japan. Organised: Kick Nuclear and Japanese Against Nuclear, UK.
NEXT GENERAL PLANNING MEETINGS
Mondays June 2nd & July 7th, 7pm at the CND office; address at top.
NUCLEAR SETBACKS: JAPAN, FINLAND, CANADA
Japan: On May 21st, the Regional High Court in Osaka, Fukui Province ruled that the two nuclear reactors at Oi in the Province cannot re-start. The Court agreed with the plaintiffs in the case that the estimates given for the plant’s earthquake resistance were “unreliable”
The Fukui suit was filed by a group of 166 people living within 250km of
NTAG SUPPLEMENT 3: Eastern Europe
(In previous supplements I’ve covered the nuclear power situation in Western and Southern Europe + Japan, the US and China. With the June edition, SE Europe.)
Russia: Currently Russia has 33 commercial nuclear reactors in operation, making it 3rd in the world in terms of the number operating after the US and France. They currently produce about 18% of Russia’s electricity. (Japan has more reactors but none are currently operating.) Russia also has a further 10 reactors in construction and 31 more “planned” and the latest federal plan is for nuclear to be producing 25-30% of Russia’s electricity by 2030.
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania: No nuclear power stations operating or under construction. In 2006, the utility companies of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania released a joint study calling for the construction of a new nuclear facility, with the goal of reducing Baltic dependence on imported Russian energy. Initially, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland and the builder Hitachi planned to be joint owners of the proposed Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant Project in Lithuania, and construction of an Advanced Boiling Water Reactor was slated to be operational by 2015. However, citing doubts about the economic feasibility of the plant, as well as a lack of clarity on the level of participation by Lithuania and Latvia, Estonia has so far failed to commit to the project and building has not started.
Lithuania opened a nuclear power station in 1983 with two reactors. One of these was decommissioned in 2004 and the second in 2009.
Poland: No nuclear power stations operating or under construction. In the 1980s, Poland had four reactors under construction, but the project was cancelled in 1990 after a referendum came out strongly against. Around 95% of the nation's electricity is currently produced from coal. In a 2006 public opinion poll, 60% supported construction of a nuclear power plant in Poland to reduce its dependence on foreign sources of energy and, the following year, the government proposed a new energy policy which would involve building 10 GWe nuclear capacity by 2030 providing 10% of Poland’s electricity, in addition to investing in and sharing in the output of the Visaganas plant (see above) However, at one of the three sites selected for new reactors, at Mielno on the Baltic, a referendum of local residents produced a massive 94% vote against new reactors there..
Belarus: No nuclear power plant operating. Plans for a is a multi-reactor nuclear power plant in Belarus were announced in the 1980s, but were suspended after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which strongly harmed the people of Belarus. After the 2007 Russia-Belarus energy dispute interest in nuclear revived and it was planned to construct two nuclear reactors to open between 2016 and 2020, and provisionally two more by 2025. The reactors are to be supplied by Atomstroyexport and the plant located on the border with Lithuania. Building of the first reactor began in 2013.
Ukraine: Currently has 15 reactors operating at four sites, supplying about half Ukraine’s electricity. The Chernobyl disaster occurred at the Chernobyl plant, on the Belarusian border. Due to the prevailing wind Belarus suffered much more from the fall-out than Ukraine. However the battle to contain the contamination and avert a greater catastrophe involved over 500,000 workers and cost an estimated 18 billion roubles, crippling the Soviet economy. The three remaining reactors at Chernobyl, all of the same type as the one involved in the disaster, were shut down by 2001, but otherwise Ukraine’s nuclear power plans do not seem to have been much affected by the disaster, and a 2006 governmental strategy plan foresees construction of 11 new reactors in order to maintain nuclear's share in electricity generation at the present level.
Czech Republic: Currently has six nuclear reactors generating about one-third of its electricity. An energy plan adopted in November 2012 projected at least 50% from nuclear, with two new reactors being built at Temelin and one at Dukovany. However in April 2014, the Czech utility CEZ informed the participants tendering to construct the reactors at Temelin that it had cancelled the procurement process “because of low wholesale power prices and the government's refusal to provide price guarantees.”
Slovakia: Has four nuclear reactors operating, generating half of Slovakia’s electricity. Two more are under construction.
Hungary: Currently has four nuclear reactors, all at the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, with a net output capacity of 1,826 MWe, supplying about one-third of Hungary’s electricity. Originally, these plants were designed for 30 years operation; however, the Hungarian government decided in 2005 to complete 20-year life extension projects on the reactors, increasing total capacity to 2,000 MWe and taking their operation up to the mid-2030s. In January 2014 the government signed an agreement with Rosatom to build two new reactors at Paks, with Russia providing 80% of the finance. The first reactor is due to be operational about 2023. They will be under Hungarian state ownership.