Friday, August 10, 2012

Japan: Onagawa Good - Emissions Very Bad - Nuclear Energy?

Onagawa[3]
Japan's Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant
The nuclear facility that was nearest the epicenter of the 2011 earthquake in Japan was not Fukushima Daiichi but Onagawa. How did it do?
An IAEA team of international experts on Friday delivered its initial report at the end of a two-week mission to gather information about the effects of the Great East Japan Earthquake on the Onagawa Nuclear Power Station (NPS), saying the plant was "remarkably undamaged".
A little more:
Onagawa, facing the Pacific Ocean on Japan's north-east coast, was the nuclear power plant closest to the epicenter of the March 11 magnitude 9.0 earthquake that struck Japan and resulted in a devastating tsunami.
The plant experienced very high levels of ground shaking - among the strongest of any plant affected by the earthquake - and some flooding from the tsunami that followed, but was able to shut down safely.
The story doesn’t mention this, but Onagawa also acted as safe harbor for the people of the town, with over 200 taking shelter inside the plant. More on that here.
Within the nuclear plant, facilities are pristine, electricity flows directly from Japan's national grid, and evacuees can use its dedicated phone network to make calls.
"The general public isn't normally allowed inside, but in this case we felt it was the right thing to do," company spokesman Yoshitake Kanda said.
Just so.
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There were a fair number of stories over the last few days about the Japanese government pledging to use less nuclear energy at a annual remembrance ceremony at Nagasaki. That didn’t seem right – even though Japan may well end up using less nuclear energy – because using the ceremony to announce it just seemed crass.
This report seems closer to right:
In his address, [Prime Minister Yoshihiko] Noda said "we aim to establish an energy structure in the mid- to long term in a form that will reassure the people of Japan, under a basic policy of reducing our dependence on nuclear power," without elaborating.
This is much gentler, although Noda still walked it back a bit later. Nuclear energy really isn’t the issue here.
"The international community must act now by taking the first concrete steps toward concluding the Nuclear Weapons Convention," Mayor Tomihisa Taue said during the city's annual peace ceremony at Nagasaki Peace Park.
That’s the issue.
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Japan without (much) nuclear energy:
Japan, with only two working nuclear power plants, has discharged a record high amount of carbon dioxide in the year ended March 31 as it relied on crude and fuel oil to support its energy requirements.
According to Bloomberg calculations based on data provided by Japan's 10 power utilities, the companies released a whopping 439 million tons of CO2 for the year, a 17 per cent jump from 374 million tons a year ago.
Oil and crude? I wonder how the air quality is doing.
"Objectively speaking, there is no doubt that it is more difficult to achieve the 25 per cent reduction goal than before," Naomi Hirose, president of Tepco, said in June.
Objectively speaking.
Onagawa.

2 comments:

jimwg said...

The engineering and humanitarian stories of Onagawa have been shamefully muted in the Japanese media. Someone must be keeping the Japanese in the dark about the virtues of the nuclear power that they can't wait to trash and the low-key knowledge about the pollution and lung aliments incurred by fossil fuels. It just beats me how they're protesting against a atomic nightmare that didn't happen -- indeed had three chances to -- without any injuries, These people are staring a energy gift-horse in the mouth. They better be careful what they're wishing for in trying to oust the atom for what happened in Hiroshima because their kids are going to pay dearly for their wild fears.

James Greenidge
Queens NY

Anonymous said...

Another interesting question would be: How does this reliance on crude influence the gas prices?