AMANDA KRETSCH WRITES – Recent efforts to reactivate the Takahama nuclear power plant have been shaky at best, since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster shutdown. The fourth reactor was reinstated in early February, but radioactive leaks and generator mishaps have been haunting the continuation of this project, making the government and the public wary of progress.
On February 20, a radioactive coolant was found leaking into the water. Japan Times reported that the leak was due to “insufficient tightening of a bolt in a pipe valve” and not a problem with the infrastructure itself. The contaminated water amounted to 64,000 becquerels of radioactive waste, making it fairly significant.
Three days later, Takahama announced that these issues were resolved; however, on February 29, the reactor was deactivated again.
Reactor No. 4 was deactivated when an alarm sounded because of a generator issue. As reported by RT News, a company publicist publically stated that Kansai Electric Power Company was supposedly trying to send power to the grid from the reactor when the turbine shut down, which led to the automatic shutdown of the entire reactor. While no “real” problem was reported then, control rods were still inserted, just to be safe.
The Asahi Shimbun updated the story on March 1, saying that KEPCO (Kansai Electric Power Company) now says that the reason behind the issues is unknown, and they are unsure when the Takahama reactor will be online again.
The Asahi Shimbun brought a major issue to light, though:
Kansai Electric divides its incidents into five categories between Level 0 for mishaps that do not have to be publicized and Level 4 for those that require swift announcements. With the reactor forced to halt, the latest incident was designated a Level 4
This speedy alert alludes to a more potentially severe problem.
After Fukushima, the government created more stringent guidelines and safety monitoring checks.
However, recent news has the surrounding local governments and public concerned with nuclear waste.
The Asahi Shimbun reported details on how the reactor specifically releases MOX fuel which cannot be processed.
There is no decision on how the waste should be eliminated. The local government asks the State to take on some responsibility and soon. The public has been protesting, asking for a solution to the nation’s reliance on nuclear power.
A Fukushima meltdown repeat is the last thing Japan wants, so it is only to be expected that the government and utilities will be making some big decisions in the near future about nuclear waste and bringing more reactors online.