APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fukushima Daiichi 5 and 6 - finally a solid plan?

Long time readers of this site (as well as people I talk to frequently) will know that I have maintained the position for years that TEPCO intends, or at least, has intended to attempt to restart not only the four units at its Fukushima Daini nuclear station (south of Fukushima Daiichi) but also Unit 5 and Unit 6 at Fukushima Daiichi.

If you don't believe that, look at this post I made in May 2011.

Now we have seen a rather startling and abrupt statement by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has directly asked TEPCO to decommission and dismantle Units 5 and 6 at Fukushima Daiichi.

I would imagine for some people the reaction will be essentially "you mean there was a plan to restart these plants, at that site?  Really?"  Really.  Make sure you read the above link and realize that it's two years old.... and that TEPCO has essentially said nothing either way about these two units for the intervening time.

There are numerous stories out today about Abe's statement. Here are just a couple of these news links, carrying information about Abe's most recent tour of Fukushima Daiichi and the revelation that he's asked TEPCO to decommission the two undamaged units at the site:



TEPCO continues to release periodic updates on the status of restoration and modification of the Fukushima Daini nuclear station (such as this one) although the alterations and improvements at that plant are absolutely miniscule when compared with work at the gigantic Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant on the opposite coast.

TEPCO appears to have continued, at least until now, the possibility of restarting the two undamaged units at Fukushima Daiichi although it's been silent on the prospect -- the evidence for this assumption being somewhat more omission of data than admission of fact.  Plans to restart the other Fukushima station to the south are more clear; plans for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa could not be more clear.  The Fukushima prefectural government, on the other hand, has stated that no nuclear plant would ever again operate on its soil; it appears now that at least in terms of Units 5 and 6 at Fukushima Daiichi, the Prime Minister agrees.

What remains to be seen is a clear response from TEPCO.  When one appears, you'll see it here.


Background link:

Preparing to Restart:  Tsunami Safety Measures at Japanese Nuclear Power Stations.


UPDATE 2:00 PM Eastern 9/19

TEPCO has provided a response to Prime Minister Abe's request to dedicate itself to decommissioning Units 5 and 6.  That terse response, as well as two others to requests made by Abe, can be found at this link:  TEPCO responds

Analysis:  TEPCO in fact had no plan to decommission Units 5 and 6.  TEPCO will now have to consider this, and this will kick the lid off the barrel that's been containing the eventually required discussion about operating any nuclear plants in Fukushima Prefecture at all.  TEPCO may be forced to come to grips with a determined future not only for Fukushima Daiichi 5 and 6 but also for the Fukushima Daini site as well through this process.  My feeling is that this is a discussion TEPCO very much did NOT want to have.. at least, not yet.


UPDATE 9:40 AM Eastern 9/20

Japan's Industry Minister, Toshimitsu Motegi, has gone on record as saying that adopting the strategy to scrap Unit 5 and Unit 6 at Fukushima Daiichi could have multiple parallel benefits to the remediation of the site.  His comments include the concept that the area the units occupy could eventually be used for more storage tanks, and that (before this, of course) the scrapping process could be used to train personnel who will be required to scrap the damaged units.

Click here for NHK World link to this story.

Following up on earlier posts, just as a matter of interest... yesterday, NHK posted a brief piece which stands as its revelation that, until now, TEPCO has actually not said anything one way or another about Units 5 and 6 ... click here to see it.  Readers of this blog of course knew this fact, but it appears as if it's been hiding in plain sight in front of many analysts and reporters. 

9:40 AM Eastern 9/19/2013


  1. If the integrity of 5 and 6 are good, it sort of seems sensible to operate them. If they survived that earthquake and tsunami, one might say they have passed their trial by water. What's the worst that could happen? They contaminate the area? Water over the dam at this point.

    Three mile island still generates. Chernobyl generated for a long time after its disaster with reactor no. 4.

    1. It seems sensible to us as outsiders to operate them; it seems sensible to TEPCO to utilize a material asset that can generate revenue.

      It's absolutely, completely insensible to most everyone in Fukushima Prefecture, the Fukushima Prefectural government, and now also apparently the Prime Minister.

      In an ideal world, yes, Units 5 and 6 could stand (with heavy modifications to the site) as proof that recovery from such an event as the Fukushima Daiichi accident is possible. The chances of TEPCO putting enough time, effort or money into them to get the locals convinced they're perfectly safe are about zero, no matter what they do. This is why they've been so silent on the matter until now -- and why they've poured so much effort into Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.

  2. Would 5 and 6 actually be at least for awhile in SafeStor? I would think so, with all the work that has to be done on the wrecked 4 that would make the most sense.

    1. I think that the answer probably is "yes," although the time in SAFSTOR probably will not be long enough for anyone to convince the local government to allow TEPCO to save the units. That is my personal opinion.

  3. Will, you should consider that Fuksuima daiichi is almost the only industry and employment there is in the area.
    It is as insensible as you see it only in the view of those of the locals who have no need to look for a job, so certainly not all of them. Comparably in 2000, it's at the specific request of Europe that the last Chernobyl reactor closed, not of the Ukrainians.

    1. A very good point; if only the Fukushima prefecture government would consider this concept, there could be hope for 5 and 6 and for Fukushima Daini as well.