Background Briefing: Why the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Should Not be Operated

–Background Briefing–
Why the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Should Not be Operated

11 August 2015 (1:00pm)
For immediate release from Sendai nuclear power plant gate, Kagoshima Prefecture.

Aileen Mioko Smith
Executive Director, Green Action (Japan)
Contact: / +81-90-3620-9251

Lack of Consideration of Potential Earthquakes Damage—In Violation of NRA Regulations
Seismologist and emeritus professor of Kobe University, Member of the Diet NAIIC (National Diet of Japan Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission), has stated that the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s Review of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is “careless and faulty and will invite a second Genpatsu-Shinsai (Earthquake-Nuclear Combined Disaster)”.

Ishibashi points out that the NRA’s Review violates the legal rules of the New Regulatory Requirements by approving Kyushu Electric’s restart application which neglected to fulfill the requirement that, when establishing the Standards Seismic Motion for the plant (how much earthquake motion the plant must able to withstand), all 3 types of earthquakes (1. inland crustal earthquakes, 2. interplate earthquakes and 3. oceanic intraplate earthquakes) must be considered いn evaluating “earthquake ground motion formulated with a hypocenter specified for each site”. For the selection of the “Earthquakes for Investigation”, Kyushu Electric ignored type 2 and 3 earthquakes, arguing that the largest earthquakes in the past in these two categories had been sufficiently distant from the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant site. The NRA approved Kyushu Electric’s application with only the type 1 earthquake considered.

The legal requirement, however, is that not only historic but future potentially significant earthquakes must be considered. Kyushu Electric did not meet this requirement when it ignored the maximum possible Nankai trough earthquake that could occur in the future (magnitude 9). The value of seismic intensity around the Sendai Plant for this type 2 earthquake as evaluated by the Study Team in the Cabinet Office is a level of intensity that would have had to be considered under the Review.

Moreover, according to the graph presented by Kyushu Electric itself, the seismic intensity of the 1909 Western Miyazaki Prefecture earthquake (type 3 earthquake) would come to magnitude 5 Upper (5+) at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant. But, Kyushu Electric did not include this type of earthquake for consideration in its restart application.

Ishibashi notes that, “J-SHIS, the Japan Seismic Hazard Information Station, which is made public by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention), shows that both type-2 and type-3 earthquakes could register 5 Upper (5+) or greater seismic intensity around the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant.”

According to Dr. Ishibashi, what is of serious concern is that Shunichi Tanaka, the chair of the NRA appears to not grasp that NRA has violated its own regulations, and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency officials in charge of Safety Management for Earthquakes and Tsunamis have evaded answering media questions on this issue. (NRA chair’s response to media questions about Dr. Ishibashi’s concerns was, “Dr. Ishibashi may have his own views.” The NRA’s response to the public comment process for the Sendai restart Review on this issue was inadequate and did not address these violations even though they were pointed out during the process.

Emergency Evacuation Planning for Accidents is Inadequate or Non-Existent
Although the NRA states that evacuation plans (public emergency preparedness plans) are not a requirement for restarting reactors, Shunichi Tanaka is on record stating that evacuation and the regulatory requirements for restart are “two wheels on the vehicle.”

Kagoshima’s emergency management measure plans are grossly incomplete and inadequate. All Japanese nuclear emergency management plans including Kagoshima’s do not take into consideration multiple problems, such as a earthquake occurring at the same time, i.e. an earthquake causing a nuclear accident. (For regions with heavy snow in the winter, the climate factor not being taken into consideration is a major issue.)

The protection/evacuation of children, pregnant women, and evacuation of people with special needs are to be given priority, but the actual situation is the reverse with these members of the public receiving less protection than the rest of the public.

For the region surrounding the Sendai nuclear power plant, in spite of the post-Fukushima era, potassium iodide has not been distributed to children 3 years and younger even within the 5km radius of the Sendai nuclear power plant. (After citizen organizations pointed out this problem, a newspaper article ran on August 7th in the Minami Nihon Shimbun reporting that the prefecture was not considering distributing potassium iodide to elementary schools and children’s day care facilities.) Currently, children under three are to receive the potassium iodide after they evacuate. (The effectiveness of potassium iodide is reduced with time after radiation exposure.)

On 27 August, when citizen organizations met with Kagoshima Prefecture’s Public Health and Welfare Department, Pharmaceutical Administration Section, the responsible officials thought that all evacuation would take place without any radiation exposure. The officials were unaware that between the 5km and 30km zone, the government standards for radiation measurement to activate evacuation was 500 microsieverts/hour recorded on two consecutive days. Kagoshima plans for beyond 5 kilometers is to have evacuees receive potassium iodide pills at the screening locations or the locations where they have evacuated. It will take many hours to evacuate, so this is too late.

Evacuation within the 5km radius is to take place before radiation is released to the environment. It is questionable that this is feasible since the official worst case scenario has the reactor fuel starting to melt 20 minutes after start of the accident. No evacuation plans have been undertaken around the Sendai plant or any other nuclear power plant using this scenario.

Governor Yuichiro Ito is on record stating that the prefecture will not create plans in advance for evacuation of people with special needs (people in facilities such as those for disabled and senior citizens) in the zone of 10km to 30km radius because “It’s not realistic. It’s impossible anyway to have a plan that will work”. There are 272 such facilities in Kagoshima in the 10km to 30km zone. There will be no plans made in advance. Kagoshima has opted for a “ flexible plan that will be implemented according to the situation at hand.”

The national government is on record asking for evacuation plans to be put in place for those in medical and welfare facilities. Nowhere in Japan has this been completed. Some prefectures have matched facilities: which facilities evacuate to which other facilities, but none have effective plans for transporting these people with special needs (people with physical and mental health problems). Kagoshima’s plans are especially poor with only a computer data input system for the 10km to 30km zone and no decision made as to who will be responsible for assessing the situation, deciding where people will be evacuated, and organize the means of transport in the event of an accident. Those with special needs residing at home or in day care are not even included under the data input system. In spite of this the national government agreed that Kagoshima’s emergency management plans were adequate.

Under Kagoshima’s plan, those members of the public without means of transportation are to be evacuated by buses, but this is only for the some 2000 people living within the 5 kilometer zone. There is no plan for those outside this radius except for making plans with neighbors with cars.

The evacuation of those within 5km of the plant is to be undertaken by bus companies with operations within the 30 kilometer zone. However, when Green Action interviewed the bus company union of this region on 24 July , we learned that it would take a minimum of 2 to 3 hours before the buses could arrive at the site to transport the individuals, it is unclear how the people would get to the bus stops, unclear how many buses could be procured in an emergency, and, since bus companies could not force drivers to enter the zone if radiation releases had begun, it is unclear if the buses could be driven by the drivers. The union officials also made clear that bus drivers could not unilaterally decide to expose the bus vehicles to radiation since the vehicles are owned by the bus companies.

The NRA is now deliberating establishment of allowable radiation exposure standards for local/regional civil servants (there is already a standard for national government civil servants), bus and truck drivers, etc., raising permissible exposure from the general public’s permissible exposure of 1mSV/year from manmade sources. It is expected that the standard will be decided by the end of the calendar year. The Kagoshima Bus Association has signed a contract with Kagoshima Prefecture to cooperate with emergency evacuation in the event of a nuclear accident at the Sendai nuclear power plant. However, the Association is on record stating that this contract would need to be negotiated from scratch if permissible limits for bus drivers are to be increased from the current 1mSv/year.

Much of the evacuation plans of towns and cities within the 30km zone is to evacuation points heading downwind from the Sendai nuclear power plant. The main routes of evacuation is National Road Number 3. Part of the route is in a natural hazard zone prone to flooding. There are 14 areas within the towns and cities of the 30km radius evacuation zone (total population 1,375) that are designated as “isolated hamlets” by government authorities, prone to difficulties in evacuating.

No Rights to Approve/Disapprove Restart. No explanation meetings by Kyushu Electric and/or the National Government
(For more information about this issue, please contact the author.)
The “gentleman’s agreement” for the right to say yes/no to restart has only been granted to the local and prefecture authorities where the nuclear power plant is located. This is also the case nationwide. However, at the same time, it is acknowledged that in the event of a serious nuclear power accident, areas within the UPZ zone (30 kilometers) may be contaminated with radiation, and local authorities in these areas are required to establish emergency evacuation plans.

The city legislatures of Aira, Ichikikushikino, Hioki, and Akune within the Sendai plant UPZ (30 kim) zone have all issued statements/petitions seeking that public explanation meetings be undertaken about restart and evacuation issues before the plant is restarted. To date, Kyushu Electric has refused to undertake such public meetings and Kagoshima Prefecture will not ask the national government to come to Kagoshima to explain these issues to its citizens. The only meeting being considered is for the national government to come to Kagoshima to explain “the necessity of nuclear power.”

On 24 June 2014, citizens of Ichikikushikino City, located within the 30km evacuation zone of the Sendai nuclear power plant, submitted 15,464 signatures of its citizens (more than half the population of the city) to city officials. The petition opposed restart of the Sendai plant without a viable evacuation plan for its citizens. The petition was later submitted to Kagoshima Prefecture as well. The authorities have not acted on this petition.

NRA in Violation of its own Ageing Management Guide
NRA’s Ageing Reactor Management Implementation Guide states in section 3.2 “Development and Revision of the Long-Term Maintenance Management Policy” that, “The implementation period for the long-term maintenance management policy developed under Commercial Reactor Regulation, Article 82, Section 1, shall commence from the first day after the 30th year of start of operation.”
This implementation pertains to ageing nuclear reactors in outage / cold shutdown as well as reactors that are fueled and producing electricity.
The NRA, however, neglected to apply this for the Sendai nuclear power plant Unit 1 which reached its 30th year of operation on 3 July 2014.
Instead, the NRA announced on 2 July 2014, without giving a reason why it could bend its own rules, that approval and implementation of the policy would be extended. The gap occurred, among other things, because new post-Fukushima regulatory standards had not been put in place in time to implement a plan under that new regime. It is negligent of the NRA to have allowed a gap in safety requirements between NISA and NRA oversight regimes. During NISA, never had a plant’s ageing management policy not been approved before the 30th year. In comparison, no plan was in place even after Sendai Unit 1 went into its 32nd year.
On 3 July 2015, Kyushu Electric submitted its revised application for its long-term maintenance management policy (which took into consideration the basic seismic motion’s upward revision.)
The NRA had first stated that restart approval for the Sendai nuclear power plant and NRA’s approval and Kyushu Electric’s implementation of Sendai’s ageing reactor management policy beyond the 30th year were separate issues and the plan did not have to be in place when restart was approved. However, probably due to citizen organizations raising concern about this NRA position and media inquiries about this, on July 13th the NRA began examining Kyushu Electric’s application in order to approve this policy. The NRA had to examine the plan under the new, revised basic seismic motion of the plant, now raised to 620 gals. This should have be a complicated matter. However, the NRA approved the policy on August 5th.
It had became clear by July 13th that there were ageing reactor concerns at the Sendai plant. The seismic resistance analysis for the main feed water pipe system showed reduction in the pipe wall thickness (extrapolation of corrosion rates to 40 years) of 0.991 compared to the maximum allowable figure of 1.
On August 4th at a Diet office building meeting organized by citizens (including Green Action) with former prime minister Naoto KAN arranging the meeting and attending, Nuclear Regulatory Agency officials stated that they did not have any additional measurement figures concerning this important item, nor did the NRA undertake any extensive physical examination of the plant when it undertook its one on site investigation, nor was it intending to undertake any further on site investigations when deliberating the application. Moreover, when citizens pointed out that the NRA had violated its own “NRA Ageing Reactor Management Implementation Guide” when it allowed Kyushu Electric to go beyond its 30th year without implementing the long-term maintenance management policy for the Sendai plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency official stated, “the NRA Guide does not have to be adhered to.”
Citizens are concerned that there is uncertainty in this estimation and that reduction in the pipe wall thickness could result in pipe rupture in the event of a large earthquake. Citizens demanded that the NRA examine the issue further and establish an outside expert committee to review Kyushu Electric’s ageing reactor maintenance policy. As mentioned above, however, the NRA gave its final approval to Kyushu Electric’s policy the next day, August 5th.
On August 7th, 1973 citizens filed an administrative complaint to the NRA, protesting NRA’s approval of Kyushu Electric’s revised long-term maintenance management policy application. The complain stated that there was no indication that the NRA had, during the review of the application, looked into whether the 0.991 figure noted above was the maximum figure this equipment and others around it had registered, nor whether deviation and uncertainty had been taken into consideration. The complaint stated the NRA had not increased the number of equipment to be examined, or undertaking a detailed examination of the area where this finding (0.991) had been registered, nor obtain the opinion of outside experts. The complaint lists other items: the fact the implementation delay violated NRA’s own standards, and the fact the Ss-2 seismic motion review which had been added on in the revised application had not been undertaken although the NRA had said it would undertake this review.

Volcanoes: the NRA is Violating its Own Volcano Guide when it Approved Sendai Restart
Japan is a land of volcanoes. Kagoshima Prefecture is an active volcano area. Kyushu Electric admits that in the past there is a possibility that pyroclastic flow from a caldera eruption reached the location where the Sendai nuclear power plant is now located. Since that is the case, the NRA Volcano Guide stipulates that surveillance of volcanic activity (monitoring) be undertaken and if and when precursor activity of a caldera explosion is observed, that the reactor site be shut down and a plan created to remove all the fuel before such an eruption takes place.

The NRA’s Volcano Guide is not as stringent as the IAEA, nor has the NRA even followed its own Volcano Guide. (More details to follow.)

Download: Background Briefing: Why the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Should Not be Operated (PDF)

Pre-Ruling Background Briefing on Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2 Injunction Lawsuit

Pre-Ruling Background Briefing on Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2 Injunction Lawsuit

For immediate release: 22 April 2015 00:05 JST (Kyoto City/Kagoshima City)

For further information contact: Aileen Mioko Smith, Executive Director, Green Action
(on site in Kagoshima City)

A 3-member panel of judges headed by chief judge Maeda will be handing down a decision at 10:00am today (22 April) at the Kagoshima District Court regarding the operation of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2.
FFTV live from 10am:

There are 5 super volcanoes (calderas) within a 160km of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant. On 10 September 2014, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) granted permission of a change in reactor installation i.e. that the application for Sendai Nuclear Power Station Units 1 and 2 owned and operated by Kyushu Electric met post-Fukushima accident nuclear regulatory standards. The NRA granted permission for the Construction Plan on 18 March 2015. The last step in the permission process, the Operational Safety Program, remains to be completed.

Main issues: Earthquakes, volcanoes, and emergency evacuation plans

Since 2005, measurements which surpassed the reactors’ basic earthquake ground motion have occurred 5 times at a total of 4 reactor sites in Japan.

The basic earthquake ground motion estimation, calculated from the length of faults and other factors, is based on the average picture of past earthquakes i.e. data that vary from the average are not taken into consideration. Because of this, the result becomes significantly underestimated.

Basic earthquake ground motion is also based on only a limited amount of data.

Because earthquakes greater than estimated could occur at the Sendai Units 1 and 2 reactor sites, the current basic earthquake ground motion of 620 gal is too low. Because of this, there is a danger of reactor core meltdown.

The defendant Kyushu Electric:
It is not just the average picture of past earthquakes, but also special characteristics of the area which were also included in the consideration of basic earthquake ground motion for the reactor site. The possibility that the area near Sendai nuclear power plant will have an earthquake that would result in the basic earthquake ground motion being exceeded is extremely low. Even if exceeded, there is a margin of safety with the facility’s seismic resistance design. Moreover, the reactor is far from the epicenter of the Nankai Trough earthquake.

The reactors do not meet the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s Volcano Guide which states that the probability of pyroclastic flow reaching the reactor site during operation of the site (during the time nuclear fuel remains at the site) as a result of a huge (caldera) volcanic eruption must be extremely low. There are no grounds for Kyushu Electric’s assertion that the cycle for a disastrous volcano eruption is 90,000 years. The Sendai plant is surrounded by 5 calderas (super volcanoes: ring of volcanoes). Moreover, the ability to predict eruptions is known to be inadequate. This has been substantiated by volcanologists. There are no grounds for Kyushu Electric’s assertion that the probability of a caldera eruption is low.

Under the NRA guide, Kyushu Electric must meet the NRA’s Volcano Guide which requires that the utility monitor the Aira caldera, the ring of volcanoes closest to the plant, and be able to remove all the nuclear fuel from the reactor site before any volcanic eruption that would result in pyroclastic flow to the site. Kyushu Electric’s application does neither (does not show that monitoring the Aira caldera would make it possible to predict an eruption, and, there is no concrete plan which confirms that the nuclear fuel can be removed from the site before an eruption). This constitutes a violation of the NRA Volcano Guide.

The NRA’s Volcano Guide is considerably more lax than the IAEA Volcano Guide.

Kyushu Electric has also under-estimated the potential risk of volcanic ash to the facility.

The defendant Kyushu Electric:
Southern Kyushu’s cycle of huge (caldera) eruptions is very long, approximately 90,000 years. The most recent eruption was approximately 30,000 years ago. Thus the chances of a huge (caldera) eruption occurring are very low.

Eruptions can be predicted by monitoring, such as monitoring for changes in the ground. There is about 10 years leeway from the time activity is seen and an eruption. There is enough time to remove the nuclear fuel from the site after shutting the reactors down.

Emergency Evacuation Plans
The plans do not take wind direction into consideration. Evacuation of citizens from within the 30km zone will take longer than 30 minutes. There is a danger that citizens will be exposed to radiation before they can evacuate.

There is insufficient means of transportation (buses) for people with special needs. The plans for evacuation are not realistic.

The defendant Kyushu Electric:
Evacuation will be undertaken in stages in relation to the developing situation and the distances from the site, and buses can be procured. If it becomes difficult to deal with the situation, then there will be nationwide organization to support the effort. The current evacuation plans are rational in content and the government’s emergency planning committee has approved the plan. The local authorities have made concrete emergency plans.

Download: Pre-Ruling Background Briefing on Sendai Nuclear Power Plant Units 1 and 2 Injunction Lawsuit (PDF)

Preliminary informal English translation (This document was issued by the Fukui District Court, Fukui Prefecture on 14 April 2015.)

Preliminary informal English translation of the judgment summary.
(Translation by Green Action)
2014 (Heisei 26) No. 31 Petition Seeking a Provisional Disposition Order for an Injunction Barring Operation of Takahama Nuclear Power Station Units 3 and 4

Japanese original of this document:
Japanese original of this document:

Takahama Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4 Injunction Ruling -This is a pre-ruling background briefing-

Takahama Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4 Injunction Ruling
-This is a pre-ruling background briefing-

For immediate release: 14 April 2015 13:00 (Kyoto City/Fukui City)
For further information contact: Aileen Mioko Smith, Executive Director, Green Action
(on site at the Fukui District Court, Fukui City, Fukui Prefecture)

A 3-judge panel headed by ruling judge Hideaki Higuchi will be handing down a decision at 14:00 today at the Fukui District Court regarding the operation of the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4.

IWJ (Independent Web Journal) will be U-streaming the event from14:00 (Fukui Channel 1)

The Wakasa Bay region where Takahama Units 3 and 4 are located:
On 23 May 2011, the National Diet’s Upper House committee with oversight on government administration summoned 4 expert witnesses. Amongst them was Dr. Katsuhiko Ishibashi , seismologist and emeritus professor of Kobe University. When asked which nuclear power plant(s) held the highest risk next to the Hamaoka nuclear power plant (located in Shizuoka Prefecture), Dr. Ishibashi’s replied, “The entire Wakasa Bay area.”

There are 15 nuclear power reactors located along Wakasa Bay. Takahama Units 3 and 4, owned and operated by Kansai Electric, have received initial permission to restart by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in a three-step process, and lead the restart in the Wakasa Bay area. Kansai Electric owns 11 of these reactors. Dr. Ishibashi stated, “Although such earthquakes as the Kambun Earthquake (1662) and Fukui Earthquake (1948) have occurred, this area has been a silent region. It is unmistakably an extremely dangerous area.”

Quote from ruling judge Hideaki Higuchi:
“When you alter an elevator from 12 -person occupancy to16-person occupancy, can safety be secured without radical reconstruction?

Main issues of the injunction lawsuit:
At the first court hearing of the case, Judge Higuchi (the court) requested both defendant and plaintiffs to provide clarification/proof on the following points. It is expected that the verdict will be along the lines of judging these submissions.

Clarification/Proof Requested by the Court:

  • What seismic motion resistance construction was undertaken in order to address the basic earthquake ground motion being raised from 370 gal to 550 gal (this was the increase in requirement for Takahama Units 3 and 4, identical for Ohi Units 3 and 4.)
  • What seismic motion resistance construction was undertaken, is scheduled to be undertaken, and the progress of this construction, in order to address the basic earthquake ground motion being raised from 550 gal to 700 gal (this is the increase in requirement for Takahama Units 3 and 4, identical for Ohi Units 3 and 4.)
  • Does the cliff edge shift when raising the basic earthquake ground motion from 550 gal to 700 gal (this is the increase in requirement for Takahama Units 3 and 4, identical for Ohi Units 3 and 4.)
  • What is the seismic resistance class level for the measurement equipment of the reactor vessel.
  • What are the capability functions of the Seismic Isolation Building and when will the facility be put in place.

Plaintiff and defendant responses to the above issues (in Japanese)
Defendant: (Kansai Electric)

Other issues concerning the Takahama Units 3 and 4 reactors:
On 31 August 2014, Fukui Prefecture undertook an emergency response exercise simulating an accident occurring at the Takahama nuclear power plant. Citizens later asked Kansai Electric about the type of simulation provided for this exercise. Kansai Electric responded in September and again in November 2014 that the scenario provided responded to Fukui Prefecture request of providing a scenario for a level of accident that Fukui Prefecture could cope with because the prefecture would not be able to deal with implementation of an emergency response exercise for an accident that was too serious.

25 December 2014, Union of Kansai Governments, “Proposal Concerning Nuclear Emergency Response Measures” submitted to the Japanese government.

Download: Takahama Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4 Injunction Ruling -This is a pre-ruling background briefing- (PDF)

Proposal Concerning Nuclear Emergency Response Measures (Informal English translation by Green Action)

Proposal Concerning Nuclear Emergency Response Measures

At present, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is carrying out a compliance review of nuclear power plants under the new regulatory standards, and a department for nuclear emergency response measures has been set up in the Cabinet Office. For the Sendai nuclear power plant of Kyushu Electric Power, the process of obtaining the consent of the local authorities has been undertaken, and resumption of operations is expected as early as this winter. Following this, on the 17th of December, the Nuclear Regulation Authority has compiled and publicly released a draft proposal for fitness review of reactors 3 and 4 of Kansai Electric Power’s Takahama Nuclear Power Plant. A special inspection is also being carried out for reactors 1 and 2 as required to approve the application for extension of the operating period which is currently 40 years. With regard to this, we received an explanation from Kansai Electric Power in our Union Committee meeting today.

The Union of Kansai Governments has to date submitted petitions concerning the application of the new regulatory standards and emergency response measures, and, wide area evacuation measures have been arranged in response to requests from the Central Government, leading to the compilation of the wide area evacuation guidelines this March. At present, steps are being taken to ensure the effectiveness of the evacuation methods and other related procedures. Despite this, numerous issues still persist with regard to evacuation measures related to the Takahama nuclear power plant, to which a fresh issue has emerged in the form of extension of the operating period of reactors 1 and 2. At this time, we seek that the Central Government clarify its responsibilities regarding the evaluation of the resumption of operations, and, that the following matters be speedily dealt with.

An environment does not exist for accepting resumption of operations of the Takahama nuclear power plant if the following matters are not implemented.


  1. We seek that extension of the operating period of nuclear power plants be cautiously examined because the facilities are old. The operator undertaking the special inspection must be appropriately instructed, and the content of the examination must be adequately explained to the relevant self-governing governments including those in the surrounding areas, and, their understanding on the matter obtained.
  2. Safety being the first priority, the decision making concerning resumption of operations must be dealt with in a matter that fits the circumstances of this region, rather than following the process of local approval that was undertaken for resumption of operation of the Sendai nuclear power plant.
  3. The safety agreement between the self-governing governments, including those in the zones which are part of the UPZ, and the operator must be the same level of agreement as the safety agreements with self-governing governments where the plants are located, and, the national government must instruct the operator to conclude these agreements promptly . A legal framework must be created in which, even under normal circumstances, and even if not so required by the safety agreement, information sharing and exchange of views can be undertaken between the self-governing governments on the one hand and the government and operator on the other under which proposals concerning ensuring safety can be made.
  4. The operator should be instructed and supported to rapidly introduce the currently deferred new functions which are required to be put in place at nuclear power plants under the new regulatory standards, and the implementation schedule etc. explained to the concerned self-governing governments, including those in the surrounding areas, and their understanding on the matter obtained.
  5. For nuclear disaster wide area evacuation measures, the Central Government must be the primary party to undertake the necessary arrangements in order to realize a wide area evacuation plan that can be effectively implemented.
  6. The Central Government must take into consideration agreements which the Union of Kansai Governments will be undertaking with civil business organizations in order to concretely establish the medical examination, decontamination and emergency transport of evacuees. Also, with regards to the Central Government’s monitoring information which is to be utilized for the wide area evacuation, a system for executing this must be established which includes areas outside the UPZ as well, and a concrete implementation policy for its utilization must be shown. 7 The deliberation concerning protective measures under PPA (protective measures such as prophylactic use of iodine, taking shelter indoors, etc.) which have finally commenced must be compiled promptly and reflected in the guidelines for nuclear emergency response measures.

25th December 2014
Union of Kansai Governments

Head of the Union: Toshizo Ido (Governor of Hyogo Prefecture)
Deputy Head of the Union: Yoshinobu Nisaka (Governor of Wakayama Prefecture)

Members: Taizo Mikazuki (Governor of Shiga Prefecture)
Keiji Yamada (Governor of Kyoto Prefecture)
Ichiro Matsui (Governor of Osaka Prefecture)
Shinji Hirai (Governor of Tottori Prefecture)
Kamon Iizumi (Governor of Tokushima Prefecture)
Daisaku Kadokawa (Mayor of Kyoto)
Toru Hashimoto (Mayor of Osaka)
Osami Takeyama (Mayor of Sakai)
Kizo Hisamoto (Mayor of Kobe)

Informal English translation by Green Action
Download: Proposal Concerning Nuclear Emergency Response Measures (Informal English translation by Green Action)
Original document (in Japanese):

Kansai Electric’s Takahama Units 3 and 4 Restart Review Enters Public Comment Period

Kansai Electric’s Takahama Units 3 and 4 Restart Review
Enters Public Comment Period

First Use of Plutonium (MOX) Fuel Since Fukushima Accident Moves Ahead Without NRA Review of its Severe Accident Implications

For immediate release: 17 December 2014
Contact: Aileen Mioko Smith +81-90-3620-9251

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) today approved the first stage of the review for restart of Kansai Electric’s Takahama Units 3 and 4 located in Fukui Prefecture. If restart is approved, it will be the first reactors to use plutonium (uranium and plutonium mIxed oxide fuel: MOX fuel) since the Fukushima accident.

The Nuclear Regulatory Agency stated today that the approval process for MOX fuel at Takahama had already been completed (before the Fukushima accident) and therefore its use will not come under NRA review. Compared to conventional uranium fuel, MOX fuel lowers the safety margin of reactor operation and causes greater health damage if released to the environment. Since there is no plan for spent MOX fuel, it will remain at the reactor site.

“It is unconscionable that the NRA is not undertaking a safety assessment of MOX fuel use. If the NRA is requiring stricter standards after Fukushima, a reassessment of MOX fuel use must be undertaken. Without this, the NRA has not learnt the lessons of Fukushima, nor can Japan profess that its regulatory safety standards are “’the strictest in the world’ ” said Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action based in Kyoto.

The Takahama reactors are unique not only because they are slated to be the first to use MOX fuel since the Fukushima accident, but because they are located quite close to large populations. The center of Kyoto City is located 60 kilometers from the Takahama plant. The population of Kyoto Prefecture within the 30km nuclear accident evacuation area is 128,500 compared to Fukui Prefecture’s 66,900 where the Takahama site is located. The entire cities of Maizuru (89,000) and Miyazu (20,300) in northern Kyoto must flee in case of a serious accident including their city hall administrations. The cultural heritage of Kyoto City is also endangered as well as Kyoto’s tourism industry which suffered economic loss after the Fukushima accident. There are 15 nuclear reactors within a 52-kilometer radius of Kyoto City’s northern city limits.

The NRA, however, refuses to address the holding of public hearing on the Takahama plant restarts in Kyoto Prefecture and states that the prefecture should go and ask Fukui if it wants to hold such meetings.

Current emergency plans to cope with an serious accident at the Takahama site are woefully inadequate including no effective plans for people with special needs, nor a decision as to where people will evacuate to within Kyoto Prefecture (Kyoto City is to accept 65,000 evacuees), and 31% of the evacuation points for Fukui and Kyoto citizens in Hyogo Prefecture do not meet legal requirements. Lake Biwa, the water serving the 14 million people of the Kansai area will be contaminated according to a study undertaken by Shiga Prefecture this year.

The NRA approval process does not include whether evacuation plans are in place to protect citizens.

Kyoto Prefecture has sought to sign a nuclear safety agreement with Kansai Electric since June 2011, but has received no positive response.

Kansai Electric’s fleet of reactors is aging, with 3 reactors over 40 years old and 4 others approaching 40 years. Although Kepco reported financial results in the black this year and there is sufficient electricity in the utility’s area, the company is pushing to restart reactors.

A public comment process will be undertaken of the NRA draft review approval. The deadline is January 16, 2015. After that Kansai Electric must receive approval for its Construction Plan and Operational Safety Program before it can restart the reactors.

There is citizen protest against restart of the Fukui Prefecture reactors. Fukui Prefecture citizens are petitioning to stop restart of all the nuclear reactors and Kansai area residents are addressing evacuation, seismic, severe accident and other issues.

Download: Kansai Electric’s Takahama Units 3 and 4 Restart Review Enters Public Comment Period (PDF)

Governor of Kagoshima Fails Fukushima Lessons: ignores science, safety and public opinion States operation of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is “Unavoidable”

Governor of Kagoshima Fails Fukushima Lessons:
ignores science, safety and public opinion
States operation of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is “Unavoidable”

For immediate release: 7 November 2014
Contact: Aileen Mioko Smith +81-90-3620-9251

Governor Yuichiro Ito of Kagoshima in approving the restart of the two nuclear reactors at Sendai earlier today has failed to understand the lessons of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, Green Action stated. The Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly has earlier voted to approve operations of the reactors. In the last week evidence has been made public that the reactor operator and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) are ignoring volcano risks to Sendai ; that evacuation shelters required in the event of a severe nuclear accident are in violation of the law (revised in April 2014) for emergency evacuation planning. Demands for consultation on restart by citizens throughout Kagoshima have all now been ignored.

“So desperate are Kyushu Electric, the Abe government and the Liberal Democratic Party leadership to restart the Sendai reactors, that they are willing to exert maximum leverage on Kagoshima. The Governor, by stating that restart of Sendai was “unavoidable” has mistakenly chosen, like them, to ignore the evidence of the risks restarting Sendai presents to the lives and livelihoods of the people of not just Kagoshima but a much greater geographical area. The volcano scientists who have stated that predicting eruptions in advance is not possible have spoken clearly based on their decades of experience. Yet, Kyushu Electric, NRA chair Shunichi Tanaka, and the politicians who support them are prepared to disregard these warnings and the concerns of the people of Kagoshima. The Fukushima accident was in part caused by the same arrogant disregard for nuclear safety concerns, and tragically it is being repeated once more. The Kagoshima Governor has failed to learn the lessons of Fukushima and to act to protect the interests of the people of his region,” said Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action.

In the last week city officials of Satsumasendai City where the Sendai reactors are located, and Izumi City, Ichikikushikino City, Akune City (all within 30km from the Sendai reactors) and Minamata City in Kumamoto Prefecture where evacuees from Kagoshima are to evacuate have all confirmed to citizens groups that many of their nuclear emergency shelters are vulnerable to the impacts of tsunami’s and storm surges or landslides and that as a result they are required under the law to find safe alternatives. The emergency plans for these communities with hundreds of thousands of people are currently in violation of the Disaster Countermeasures Basic Law.

On 25 September, Kumamoto Prefecture which neighbors Kagoshima and 4 of its local authorities issued a joint petition to the Government to undertake a detailed, careful explanation to Kumamoto citizens and the prefecture regarding the NRA review and Government decisions on the Sendai plant. They also demanded that the Government issue its regulations for radiation exposure/evacuation beyond the 30km limit (the PPA standard) which are yet to be issued and undertake measures including financial measures for these areas. They also demanded that the Government undertake human and financial support for local authorities with citizens evacuating and local authorities accepting evacuees. The Government is yet to respond to any of these demands.

In the meantime, in Fukushima Prefecture, radiation levels in many areas remain higher than government set limits with no prospect for return of the population. At the time of the accident, authorities took over a month to evacuate Iitate village’s citizens despite the high radiation exposure. Kagoshima City with a population of over 600,000, is located in a similar distance away, 40km, from the Sendai reactors.

Recent polling have shown increasing demands for wider consultation on nuclear reactor restarts beyond communities that directly benefit financially from hosting power plants.

Even with approval from the full Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly and the Governor, restart of the two reactors at Sendai will not take place before 2015. The NRA has yet to complete its review of the Sendai reactor post Fukushima retrofitting plan, safety management rules and onsite inspections of the plant. Kyushu Electric’s concrete plans to comply with the NRA’s volcano guide have not been completed and made public.

Download: Governor of Kagoshima Fails Fukushima Lessons: ignores science, safety and public opinion States operation of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant is “Unavoidable”

Women from all over Japan demand the end of nuclear power, support of Fukushima citizen rights

Japanese women throughout Japan join Fukushima women in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo, location of a tent pitched in front of the ministry demanding the end of nuclear power. The women are united in working to end nuclear power in Japan and supporting Fukushima citizens, particularly children who are suffering from radiation exposure. Children are the most vulnerable to the effects of radiation exposure. The rallying call: “Let’s protect Fukushima children! Let’s protect children all over Japan! Women will stop nuclear power! Men will stop nuclear power! We will all together stop nuclear power!” (November 2011)

Rallies calling for no restart of nuclear power in Japan take place every Friday evening in Tokyo and many cities from the north to south of Japan including Sapporo, Niigata, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka, Kagoshima.

Organizations Protest Approval of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant’s Conformation to Regulatory Standards

[English translation]

Joint Statement Protesting: Nuclear Regulatory Authority’s Draft Approval of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant’s Conformation to New Nuclear Regulatory Standards

16 July 2014
Issued by:
The Nuclear Regulation Authority Citizen Watchdog Group
and 7 other organizations

Today, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) issued a draft report on Kyushu Electric’s Sendai Nuclear Power Plant application for restart, stating the NRA’s review found the plant conforming to the New Regulatory Standards. We strongly protest this report.

The NRA review to inspect conformation to the New Regulatory Standards does not learn from the lessons of Tokyo Electric’s Fukushima Daiichi accident, and, for the following reasons it is clearly evident that the situation is far from being able to issue such conformation to New Regulatory Standards.

  1. In spite of acknowledging the warnings issued by experts that assessments on the effects of volcanoes cannot predict volcanic eruptions, the NRA review is ignoring this fact, thus violating its own Volcanic Effects Assessment Guide.
    • Although Kyushu Electric’s claim which states that the possibility is extremely small that a gigantic volcanic eruption (caldera eruption) would occur during the operation of the nuclear power plant is not substantiated with sufficient evidence, the NRA, with not a single volcano expert on its committee, without asking the opinion of experts, and with virtually no discussion, allowed this claim to pass.
    • With volcano experts stating that a huge volcanic eruption (caldera eruption) is difficult to predict, the government admitted the difficulty of being able to predict the extent and timing of such eruptions. Being able to predict the extend of the volcanic eruption and when pyroclastic flow will occur is absolutely necessary because nuclear fuel must be removed from the power plant site beforehand and because this removal takes years to complete. In spite of this, the NRA has only put monitoring in place for now, and has tossed aside this issue as an issue to be handled in the mid-term future.
  2. The NRA is requiring absolutely no measures to be undertaken to prevent contaminated water from being released into the ocean and other areas in the event of a serious accident

The New Regulatory Standards require that, even though the containment has been breeched during a serious nuclear accident, countermeasures must be undertaken to limit the dispersal of radiation. Although it is stated that the New Regulatory Standards are based on lessons learnt from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, the review process completely ignored the serious situation of contaminated water emissions currently occurring at the Fukushima Daiichi plant and did not require measures be undertaken to prevent radioactive emissions from the Sendai Plant in the event of an accident.
Moreover, at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant, 300 tons of groundwater is being pumped out daily, and when the pump equipment no longer functions in the event of a serious accident, groundwater would enter the nuclear power plant facility and mix with the contaminated coolant water that has leaked from the bottom of the containment, thus creating the danger that large quantities of contaminated water would be generated. No countermeasures have been put in place to prevent such an occurrence.

  1. Measures to prevent breeching of the containment and hydrogen explosions in the event of a serious accident are inadequate—cross-checking to verify the reliability of the analysis code has not been undertaken

Kyushu Electric has a shocking plan in the event of a serious accident involving loss of coolant and loss of power. The company plans to abandon cooling of the reactor vessel and instead will switch to pooling water at the bottom of the containment vessel and having the molten fuel which has breeched the reactor vessel fall into the pooled water. The company claims that this would not lead to breech of the containment vessel nor hydrogen explosions, but its claims are only based on computerized analyses.

The accuracy of the computer code used by Kyushu Electric has been put into question. Nevertheless, the Nuclear Regulation Authority / Nuclear Regulatory Agency did not undertake a cross-check with another computer code, a procedure which is normally undertaken.

  1. Seismic motion has been underestimated

The NRA did not have the method utilized for estimating the effects of a tsunami, the Takemura Method, used for estimating the earthquake motion at the Sendai Plant. The Takemura Method takes into account the special characteristic of Japanese earthquakes. If the Takemura Method had been utilized, it would have approximately doubled the earthquake motion estimation for the Sendai Plant.
Although the inadequacy of the New Regulatory Standards regarding estimation of volcanic effects became evident during the review process, as Chair of the NRA Shunichi Tanaka points out, the New Regulatory Standards do not guarantee safety.
With regards to the nuclear accident emergency preparedness plans which NRA Chair Tanaka calls “the second wheel” of a two-wheel vehicle (the other wheel being the New Regulatory Standards) the situation is as follows:

    • Kagoshima Prefecture has stated it will abandon plans to evacuate people living beyond the 10-kilometer radius who require special support. It has instead forced responsibility for undertaking plans for these people upon the welfare facilities and hospitals. As a result, no plans are in place for these people. These people are being abandoned, sacrificed.
    • As for the emergency preparedness plans for the general public, there is not enough capacity at the evacuation points to take in the people who have evacuated, thus no environment exists for remaining there. Also, there is a possibility that these evacuation points will be downwind. Moreover, the plans do not take into account the possibility of an earthquake, tsunami, or some other event occurring simultaneously to the nuclear accident. Plans for distributing potassium iodine are not in place. The screening points (the locations to undertake measurements and decontamination of radioactive materials) has not been established and no resolution for this is in sight. The possibility that evacuation may be required beyond a 30- kilometer radius has not been taken into consideration, etc.

Numerous issues remain problematic. An effective nuclear accident emergency preparedness plan is not in place. The greater the efforts put into making such plans concrete, the more apparent it becomes that there are great difficulties with evacuation.

The Sendai Nuclear Power Plant restart process should not be allowed to continue under these circumstances. The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) should retract its review report. Restart of the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant must not proceed.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority Citizen Watchdog Group

Anti-Nuclear Kagoshima Network (ANK Net)

People’s Action Against The Genkai Nuclear Power Plant

Green Action

Osaka Citizens Against the Mihama, Oi and Takahama Nuclear Power Plants (Mihama-no-Kai)

国際環境NGO FoE Japan
International Environmental NGO FoE Japan

Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai)

Contact: The Nuclear Regulation Authority Citizen Watchdog Group
Tel: +81-90-8116-7155 (Sakagami)

Contact: (in English): Green Action
Suite 103, 22-75 Tanaka Sekiden-cho, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606-8203 Japan
Tel: +81-75-701-7223 Fax: +81-75-702-1952 Cell: +81-90-3620-9251 (Smith)

Download: Joint Statement Protesting Nuclear Regulatory Authority’s Draft Approval of Sendai Nuclear Power Plant’s Conformation to New Nuclear Regulatory Standards(PDF)

Japanese: 川内原発の新規制基準適合性審査 原子力規制委員会による審査書案に抗議する共同声明(PDF)