Tokyo Electric said Thursday it will seek an industry peer to become its partner in the nuclear power business and draw up a basic framework for the tie-up around fiscal 2020. The tie-up will cover the Higashidori nuclear power station in Aomori Prefecture, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said in a new turnaround program. The plan comes as Tepco, as the utility is known, works to raise a massive funds to cover the March 2011 triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The costs include expenses for decommissioning the reactor and compensating those affected by the disaster. The company aims to set up joint ventures for nuclear power and power grid operations to streamline its business and bolster earnings.
If the checks go smoothly, Shikoku Electric plans to load nuclear fuel into the reactor in late June ahead of its reboot in late July. Under new nuclear safety standards, introduced after the March 2011 nuclear catastrophe at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 plant, the Ikata No. 3 reactor is the fifth to go through the NRA's inspections before being allowed to restart. The four others are the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, and the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture. According to Shikoku Electric, there are 50 items on the checklist for the Ikata No. 3 reactor, including confirming whether safety instruments work properly. The inspections, including final checks, will last about 4½ months and include examining how the utility would respond to possible accidents.
Almost a decade before the March 2011 quake and tsunami triggered the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Koichiro Fujii knew the government could not effectively communicate the risks of nuclear technology. He should know -- back then, Fujii was a government bureaucrat in the then-Science and Technology Agency whose job was to design nuclear technology policy. This included liability legislation for the fatal 1999 criticality accident at a uranium-processing plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture -- the site of Japan's first nuclear accident resulting in deaths by radiation exposure. Even before Tokai, the government was up to its neck in nuclear technology issues: It was under attack for lack of transparency and an attempted cover-up after a sodium leak caused a fire at the Monju fast-breeder prototype reactor in Fukui Prefecture, and having a rough time persuading Aomori residents to host an experimental fuel-reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho. While these issues were brewing, the fatal chain reaction debacle at Tokai struck, escalating public distrust of Japan's atomic safety mantra.
Aftershocks rattled communities in southern Japan as businesses and residents got a fuller look Friday at the widespread damage from an unusually strong overnight earthquake that killed nine people and injured about 800. The magnitude 6.5 quake struck at 9:26 p.m. Thursday at a depth of 11 kilometers (7 miles) near Kumamoto city on the island of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's four main islands. The epicenter was 120 kilometers (74 miles) northeast of Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai nuclear plant, the only one operating in the country. Most of Japan's nuclear reactors remain offline following the meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima plant in 2011 after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a huge tsunami.
A still shocked resident from a town in southern Japan recounted his terror the previous night as he examined the damage Friday from a powerful earthquake that brought down buildings and left nine people dead. More than 100 aftershocks from Thursday night's magnitude-6.5 earthquake continued to rattle the region as businesses and residents got a fuller look at the widespread damage from the unusually strong quake, which also injured about 800 people. The epicenter was 120 kilometers (74 miles) northeast of Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai nuclear plant, the only one operating in the country. Most of Japan's nuclear reactors remain offline following the meltdowns at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima plant in 2011 after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a huge tsunami.