Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo Electric Power Company’

In their ongoing effort to accomplish a cold shutdown by January, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the beleaguered operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant said it had resumed the use of recycled water to cool the reactor cores this weekend, a week after its first attempt was suspended due to leaks that developed within minutes of starting up the recycled water system.

Tepco has installed a tank to store 1,000 metric tons of decontaminated water to complete the recycling system, stabilizing the water source for cooling the Nos. 1-3 reactors, eliminating the need to use fresh water from an outside source to cool the reactors, and creating even more irradiated water, which then requires storage or disposal.

Establishment of a closed cooling system is essential to stabilizing the Daiichi reactors and getting the reactors to cold shutdown, which is defined as lowering the temperature of the fuel rods to below 100 degrees Celsius—water’s boiling point—and keeping it there.

If Tepco’s current efforts are successful, they hope to increase the flow of water and bring down the reactor-core temperatures, which currently hovers between 100 and 160 degrees Celsius.

Even if the recycling system works smoothly, Japan is still left with the problem of how to dispose of the radioactive sludge being created during the filtering process.  Japan, like Texas, has a disposal site for low-level radioactive waste, but there are no guidelines for disposing of the type of sludge now being created, which is expected to total 706 metric tons.

In the meantime, work at the complex is being hampered by the unseasonably hot weather.  There have been 17 reported cases of heatstroke at the plant in recent weeks.

And if that wasn’t enough

Tepco also faces other issues as senior members of Japan’s government developed secret plans to break up the nuclear plant operator, according to reports uncovered by Reuters.

The plan would bring nuclear operations of Tepco under government control, and force Tepco to sell its power distribution business.  Only the power-generation operations that use thermal and hydraulic power plants would remain as the company’s business cutting Tepco’s size to one third of its current operations.

I guess a really, really big mistake costs industry really, really big.

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The Shroud of Fukushima

Artist rendering of the Shroud of Fukushima

According to the London Telegraph, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has announced that they will start construction of a shroud over the No. 1 reactor at the ill-fated Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant where a hydrogen explosion destroyed the walls and roof of the reactor building on March 12, the day after the cooling system was knocked out by the Japanese earthquake and the tsunami that it triggered.

The shroud will stand 177 feet high and be 154 long with a roof that can be opened to give cranes access to the interior. It will also be fitted with filters that, over time, will scrub the air inside the building of radioactivity, enabling workers to enter the plant.  The frame of the shroud will be put together off-site and once in place, it will be covered with polyester fiber panels coated with a resin designed to prevent further radiation leaking into the atmosphere – at least that’s the plan.

Tepco is using the operation at the No. 1 reactor to test the construction methods and effectiveness of the shroud.  In truth, they are not sure how effective the temporary cover may be in limiting emissions of radiation from the reactors and spent fuel pools, but it will at least prevent more rainwater entering the buildings and becoming contaminated with radiation.  If it proves effective they have plans to build similar covers over the No. 3 and No. 4 reactor buildings, which were also damaged by explosions after the tsunami.

Eventually, Tepco plans to erect a concrete structure around the reactors, but that will take several years to achieve.  A similar concrete sarcophagus was built over the remains of the reactors at the Chernobyl power plant after that facility was destroyed in an accident in April 1986.

In hearings on Capitol Hill, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works was questioning the NRC’s chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko about the implications of Japan’s nuclear accident for the United States.  A statement by a commission official on Wednesday indicated that the nation’s nuclear safety rules had failed to consider the possibility of losing both off-site power from the electric grid and on-site emergency diesel generators.

NRC Commissioner George Apostolakis said that this condition produces a station blackout, and the commission has a rule covering such blackouts, but Mr. Jaczko said that the thrust of the statement was that the agency had not thought enough about a single event that would damage both the grid and the diesel backup generators, causing a plant to take longer to recover.

Let’s hope the US is not the next country designing a sarcophagus for a nuclear facility.

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Investors dumped Japanese shares Monday, sending the Nikkei down 6.2% amid concerns about a nuclear emergency in the country following Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, with stocks of exporters and plant operators hardest hit.

Analysts say stocks were being largely driven by the quake-related news flow; while news of the devastating tsunami effects in northeastern Japan waned.  Fears spread amid the scramble to contain meltdowns at Tokyo Electric Power’s (Tepco) troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as investor attention remained riveted on the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors at the facility, which were damaged by the effects of the quake and tsunami. Selling accelerated in the afternoon following a new explosion at the No. 3 reactor, similar to the one that hit the No. 1 reactor on Saturday.

Tepco’s shares went largely untraded, closing down 24 percent. Goldman Sachs also lowered its rating on the stock to Neutral from Buy and cut its target price 13 percent.

Between Tepco and Tohoku Electric Power, some 15 nuclear power units are in questionable status.

Hitachi and Toshiba, which make nuclear power technology, both sank 16 percent.

Why is the economic news of these Japanese companies of interest to Texas?

Nuclear Innovation North America LLC (NINA), the nuclear development company jointly owned by NRG Energy, Inc. and Toshiba Corporation, are the major financial partners in the two new nuclear units at the South Texas Project (STP).  Last year they announced they had reached an agreement with Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), that owns the Fukushima Daiichi, to also partner in the STP expansion.

NINA was also counting on the Japanese government to provide loan guarantees to the project.  So, of the major financial investments in this Texas nuclear expansion, three are Japanese.  One can easily predict that both the Japanese government and Japan’s nuclear industry’s economic future are going to be tied up for the foreseeable future.  Given this, it would be mind-boggling if the U.S. Department of Energy approved a loan guarantee for STP’s expansion.

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