Another troubled reactor to be halted in Japan
Japan’s Kansai Electric Power has halted its Mihama No. 2 nuclear reactor for safety reasons after it discovered unusual levels of coolant leaking from a valve inside the containment vessel. The reactor is located in Fukui prefecture some 320 kilometers west of the capital Tokyo.
The situation at the Mihama nuclear plant reminds about the problems at the Fukushima damaged by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March. The effects of that disaster have not been overcome until now, as a new leak of contaminated water has been detected at the nuclear complex just recently.
The Mihama nuclear plant has not been damaged by the quake, and there have been no radiation leaks. Greenpeace ecologist Ivan Blokov regards this as an extremely dangerous sign:
"Keeping in mind the recent developments at the Fukushima, I see no grounds to trust the Japanese authorities who tried to deceive the public and media then. It is hard to think of anything right now. This may be absolutely harmless. This may be extremely dangerous. The disaster of the Fukushima scale is not in question. Yet it still may pose a serious risk to the environment and population."
The situation is aggravated by the low qualification of Japanese specialists who are not prepared to cope with emergencies, Maxim Shingarin, an expert in nuclear security, says. That is why emergencies in Japan lead to catastrophes.
Currently, only nine out of Japan's 54 commercial nuclear reactors are being operated, with the others knocked out by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It is worth noting that the Mihama nuclear plant was put into operation almost 40 years ago. Its owners wanted to utilize it for another 20 years, but it still has to pass the stress-test.
The current emergency could certainly increase public’s distrust toward nuclear energy plants, and the knocked out plants would not be operated any more. If that happens, the country will have to spend another 40 billion dollars to purchase oil and gas for its thermal stations.