Skip to main content

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.
---
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.
---
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.

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?

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…