15 December 2012, 12:44

Higher nuclear safety will help avoid Fukushima-like disasters – Amano

Higher nuclear safety will help avoid Fukushima-like disasters – Amano

Boosting safety and security of nuclear power plants will help avoid disasters like the one involving the Fukushima nuclear plant, said Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, in a statement.

He was speaking during the opening of an international conference on nuclear safety earlier today in the Japanese city of Koriyama, near the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The forum is attended by experts from over 120 countries, including Russia. The international experts will assess Japan’s efforts to do away with the consequences of the Fukushima plant accident. 

Voice of Russia, TASS

Japan’s energy dilemma

Ilya Kharlamov

Scientists have said that the people of Japan and its energy system may expect new hardships. They discovered a fault line under the Tsuruga nuclear power plant on Honshu.

It’s not excluded that in case of an earthquake, the second power unit of the station might be damaged. The Japanese have energetically started demanding a preventive dismantlement.

After the technological disaster at Fukushima-1 in 2011 that set the world in turmoil, many countries were prompted to think about rejecting nuclear energy once and for all. Now another alarming signal is coming from Japan. This time, it also concerns a natural calamity that could trigger major problems. Reportedly, the previous accident was triggered by the most powerful earthquake in the country and tsunami followed by. In view of this, experts’ attitude towards the seismological activity in the region where the nuclear power plant is located is very serious although it was shut down 18 months ago. This is natural when taking into account that the fault line is situated only several hundreds of meters away from the second power unit. Scientists have flatly rejected the possibility of launching the reactor, while chief expert in radiation safety Shunichi Tanaka said that there was a possibility of dismantling the energy units.

However, not all agree with this idea. For one, the operator of the nuclear plant Power Co. has described the conclusions as unacceptable and promised to conducts its own study. Moreover, some experts do not exclude the possibility of launching new ones and those temporarily shut down because nuclear energy is still playing a crucial role in the country. Before Fukushima-1, the share of the country’s nuclear power was one third of the overall production. Director of the Centre for Energy and Security Anton Khlopkov agrees with this standpoint.

“At present, only two power units are working. Dozens of energy units are awaiting a political decision on the resumption of their work. In fact, the positions of people and business are diametrically opposed. Big business is actively lobbying for the resumption of the work of nuclear power plants, otherwise big companies are threatening to shift their factories to other countries. This is understandable. It’s impossible to expand production when there is no guarantee that the enterprises will get necessary electricity.

If the Japanese authorities fail to find the political will to launch nuclear power plants at least up to the average level, about 15% of the overall production of energy, it’s not excluded that there will be a significant rise in prices and a shortage of energy. At present, Japan is stick to use the alternative sources. This is witnessed by talks with Russia, says editor-in-chief of the Atomnaya Strategia” magazine Oleg Dvoinikov.

“The two countries are holding talks on supplying liquefied natural gas. The Japanese will demand that the government put an end to the construction of nuclear power stations and shut down the existing ones. Seismological danger will raise the problem of nuclear power plants, and Japan will do its best to shift to gas, coal and wind energy. It will follow Germany’s footsteps and develop new technologies,” Oleg Dvoinikov said.

Notably, a week ago Japan was hit by a severe earthquake with a magnitude of 7.0 points on the Richter scale. This has added fuel to the fire in the discussions concerning the danger of the existing nuclear plants. However, it’s not yet clear what will be the government’s decision in the clash of interests between big business and millions of ordinary people.

If the country decides to shut down all nuclear power plants, it will need additional 65 billion cubic meters of gas a year. In this case share of such power stations will increase up to 25%. Meanwhile, Japan occupies the first place in the import of gas. When taking into account the recent dispute between China and Japan over a cut in rare earth metal export, a metal widely used in the Japanese industry, the situation might turn in the favour of promoting nuclear energy. One of Tokyo’s main fears is the country’s dependence on import. To get rid of this, the country will have to build new nuclear power stations.

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