Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Japanese nuclear dance and elsewhere 

The present uproar at Fukushima is not the first time a Japanese nuclear power station has suffered earthquake damage.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant was damaged by an earthquake on 6 July 2007 which at 6.6 on the Mw scale was at the time the second largest ever to impact a nuclear generating station. Of the seven KK reactors three at this date are apparently still not returned to operations, one came back on line in May 2009 and the others at various dates after that in 2010.

The quake was reported to have imposed stresses greater than the designed safety limits. Design safety “needed to be improved by a factor of five”.

The plant is owned by the Tokyo Electric Power Company which also owns the Fukushima plant. Apparently TEPCO has a reputation for secrecy and covering up controversies.

The UK plans for new nuclear power stations here allows for no subsidy in construction costs, but according to Chris Huhne in October 2010 the UK government would have to pick up the bill for cleaning up any accidents. Wonder how attractive that sounds now. If the 2018 UK construction start deadlines are to be met the government has to legislate changes in UK planning law this spring to speed up reactor approval…That is, about now...

Open Democracy has a discussion on ‘Nuclear Follies’ which looks at the spread of nuclear power stations to countries like Libya. The French for example struck a deal with Libya in 2007 to supply new reactors, citing Col Ghadaffi’s ‘progress on the path of human rights’.

And what about the new nuclear facilities in Iran? Mostly discussed in terms of weapons grade materials but also in a severe earthquake zone…

Somehow I suspect that the core LibDem opposition to nuclear power expansion is on firmer political grounds that the Coalition policy of allowing new construction provided there is no taxpayer input…

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