Japan’s Nuclear Regulator:
We don’t know if Takahama Reactor has significant fire safety violation
Reactor due to start January 29th
January 26, 2016, Tokyo –Greenpeace and Green Action today condemned the failure of the NRA to verify that critically important electric cabling inside the Takahama reactors meet the agency’s own fire safety regulations. At a meeting held in the National Diet on January 21st, representatives of the NRA admitted under questioning from citizens and NGOs, that they simply do not know whether Takahama 3&4 reactors are in violation.(1)
Kansai Electric plans to restart Takahama 3, located on Wakasa Bay in Fukui prefecture, on January 29th.
The safety-related cabling in a reactor must be separated to ensure that in the event of fire or other singular incident, critical redundant safety systems and power supplies are not lost. If the cabling is not adequately separated – by physical distance, cabling trays, and fire barriers in accordance with regulations– this would pose a significant risk to reactor safety – including the risk of a losing cooling systems which, in worst case, could lead to a core meltdown.
The NRA has ordered all nuclear plant operators in Japan to provide reports on the status of cable separation at their reactors before the end of March – except for Takahama and Sendai.(2)
“This latest example of complete negligence by the NRA just days before the Takahama unit 3 reactor is scheduled to restart is wholly unacceptable. It’s like allowing an airliner packed with passengers to take off without knowing whether the fuel lines and the control wires are crossed. If an accident happens, the power and backup safety systems could be taken out at once, and the plane is going down. While the NRA may be content to allow the Takahama safety cables to remain in the black box, the public deserves to know what’s inside before their lives and livelihoods are put at significant risk,” said Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Japan.
In March 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency provided an assurance of safety to the Union of Kansai Governments for the Takahama reactors. It told the Union that the NRA had confirmed that the utility’s policy for the reactors would ensure compliance with nuclear safety regulations. This includes the issue of electric safety cabling.(5) The Union, made up of eight prefectural governments and four cities, has challenged the restart process for the Takahama reactors; it represents 22 million people living in the greater Kansai region. They provided the same assurance to local governments in the Union, as well as Fukui prefecture.
“The fact the Japanese government, in its efforts to neutralise the mounting opposition to restart from the Union Kansai Governments, told them last March that the plant complied with their regulations shows both the level of incompetence and deception at the heart of Japan’s nuclear industry,” said Aileen Mioko Smith, Director, Green Action, Kyoto. “The NRA are clearly not being honest or transparent about what they know about this issue. When completing their overall assessment of the safety design of the Takahama reactors in August last year, did they not verify compliance with their regulations during this process? If not, why not?” said Smith.
For a detailed briefing on the Nuclear Safety and Reactor Cable Separation: http://bit.ly/1K7EhAh
Kendra Ulrich, Senior Global Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Japan – +81-80-5088-3351
Aileen Mioko Smith, Director, Green Action, Kyoto – +81-90-3620-9251
1 – A coalition of NGO’s have petitioned the NRA on a ranges of safety issues at Takahama, including safety cabling. There are 14 petitioners including: Green Action, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace Japan, and numerous local NGOs.
2 – The NRA admitted in December that it knew of at least six nuclear plants in Japan had a safety cable problems that meant they were in non compliance with their regulations – all seven reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa; units 3 and 4 at Fukushima Daiini; unit 4 at Hamaoka, and Shika unit 1, Onagawa unit 3 and Higashi-dori unit 1 – for a total of 13 reactors.
3 – See Protection against Internal Fires and Explosions in the Design of Nuclear Power Plants, IAEA Safety Series, Pages 46-48, see http://wwwpub.iaea.org/MTCD/publications/PDF/Pub1186_web.pdf
4 – Fire Protection For Nuclear Power, October 2009 Revision 2, U.S. NRC Regulatory Guide 1.189 (Draft was issued as DG-1214, dated April 2009) see http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML0925/ML092580550.pdf
5 – NRA to Union of Kansai Governments – March 27 2015, see http://www.kouiki-kansai.jp/data_upload/1427449594.pdf