The operator of Japan's wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant said Tuesday it is struggling to stop contaminated underground water from leaking into the sea. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said some of the water is seeping over or around an underground barrier it created by injecting chemicals into the soil that solidified into a wall.
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. will fight Southern California Edison's allegations of gross negligence in the design and manufacture of steam tubes built for the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which has been permanently shut down due to excessive wear in the tubes.
The powerful earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011 set off tremors around a West Texas oil field, according to new research that suggests oil and gas drilling operations may make fault zones sensitive to shock waves from distant big quakes.
Officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority said a leak is "strongly suspected" and urged plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. to determine where the water may be leaking from and assess the environmental and other risks, including the impact on the food chain.
Japan moved a step closer to restarting nuclear reactors Monday as four utility companies applied for safety inspections of 10 idled plants, the clearest sign of a return to atomic energy nearly two and a half years after the Fukushima disaster.
Japan's nuclear watchdog has formally approved new safety requirements for atomic plants, paving the way for the reopening of facilities shut down since the Fukushima disaster. The new requirements approved Wednesday by the Nuclear Regulation Authority will take effect on July 8, when operators will be able to apply for inspections.
Plant chief Takeshi Takahashi told journalists given a tour of the plant Wednesday that workers have cleaned up much of the debris in their work areas, but that the priorities are keeping the plant stable and working toward shutting it down — a process that operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. estimates will take 40 years.
Keeping the meltdown-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in northeastern Japan in stable condition requires a cast of thousands. Increasingly the plant's operator is struggling to find enough workers, a trend that many expect to worsen and hamper progress in the decades-long effort to safely decommission it.
It was the first time Japanese regulators had officially recognized an active fault underneath an existing reactor, virtually acknowledging that the risk at Tsuruga had been overlooked for decades by both the operator and regulators despite warnings by some experts.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority's decision is the latest blow to the Monju fast-breeder reactor and Japan's nuclear fuel cycle program. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is hoping that Monju will be a key part of Japan's plans for disposing of atomic waste and reducing the nation's plutonium stockpile.
A Japanese court has rejected a demand that a city affected by the fallout of the country's 2011 nuclear disaster evacuate its children. The unusual lawsuit was filed on behalf of the children by their parents and anti-nuclear activists in June 2011. The Sendai High Court handed down its ruling Wednesday.
The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. have predicted the cleanup would take up to 40 years. They still have to develop technology and equipment that can operate under fatally high radiation levels to locate and remove melted fuel. The reactors must be kept cool and the plant must stay safe and stable.
The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency Monday began reviewing the decommissioning process at Japan's crippled nuclear plant, where new problems are triggering growing safety concerns about a cleanup expected to take decades. The experts will assess and analyze melted reactors, radiation levels and waste management at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to make its decommissioning process safer and more stable.
The investigators told parliament on Monday that the recently formed Nuclear Regulation Authority is merely rubber-stamping TEPCO's work at the plant, which is still using makeshift equipment put together after the March 2011 disaster, caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
The plan is meant to encourage more innovation and modernization of the power grid as the country grapples with its energy policy following the shut-downs of almost all its nuclear power plants after the March 2011 tsunami disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. acknowledged in a report that it was not prepared to deal with the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeastern Japan in March 2011. The twin disasters cut power at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, causing meltdowns at three reactors.
Several groups have published findings of their own investigations into the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which was ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Previous investigations have largely blamed the disaster on botched crisis management, government-industry collusion and the tsunami.
An independent panel says the operator of Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear plant misinformed investigators and blocked inspection of key equipment last year, but that there was no cover-up attempt. The case involves a parliamentary probe of equipment at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's Unit 1 reactor.
All but five of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of 2012, Macfarlane said, citing a recent NRC report. "You can't engage that many reactors and not have a few that are going to have difficulty," she said.
Memorial services are planned Monday in Tokyo and in barren towns along the battered northeastern coast to coincide the moment the magnitude-9.0 earthquake — the strongest recorded in Japan's history — struck, unleashing a massive tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people.
Just as with Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, mental distress could be one of the biggest health issues to emerge from this disaster, experts say. While attention has focused on the potential cancer risks, they remain unclear. What is clear is that the uncertainty and the upheaval it's caused in people's lives is already exacting a very real and pervasive psychological toll.
People exposed to the highest doses of radiation during Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011 may have a slightly higher risk of cancer but one so small it probably won't be detectable, the World Health Organization said in a report released Thursday.
The five-member panel commissioned by the Nuclear Regulation Authority announced Monday that the structure underneath the Tsuruga plant showed signs of seismic movement around 100,000 years ago, recent enough to still be active. Japanese guidelines prohibit nuclear facilities above active faults.
If disaster strikes a nuclear power plant in the U.S., the utility industry wants the ability to fly in heavy-duty equipment that could avert a meltdown.That capability is part of a larger industry plan being developed to meet new rules that emerged since a 2011 tsunami struck a nuclear plant in Japan, flooding its emergency equipment and causing nuclear meltdowns.
The head of the utility behind Japan's nuclear crisis has acknowledged that hundreds of workers at the contaminated Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were mobilized through a murky hiring system. Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose attributed the hiring problem to high worker turnover at the worksite.