6 December 2013, 09:49

Japanese government to abandon nuclear power phase-out

Japanese government to abandon nuclear power phase-out

The Japanese government will call nuclear energy an "important" source of power in an upcoming energy plan, abandoning a policy of phasing it out, Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi was quoted as saying Friday.

A government panel working on a draft of the long-term energy plan will urge the country to continue to use nuclear power, the minister told a news conference, according to Kyodo News agency.

"I understand that discussions by the panel are heading toward labeling nuclear power as an important and basic power source," Kyodo quoted him as saying.

The previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan had said it wanted to boost the country's use of nuclear power from 30 to 50 per cent of its electricity in 2030.

The DPJ-led government, however, decided to phase out nuclear power by the 2030s after the 2011 triple reactor meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

Japan's 50 nuclear reactors have been suspended for maintenance and are required to clear tougher guidelines introduced earlier this year to be restarted.

Experts said power companies could be forced to scrap some of the reactors.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government, led by the Liberal Democratic Party since elections in 2012, is expected to adopt the new basic energy policy in January.

Japan considers dumping radioactive water into sea

The Japanese government said Thursday that it would consider discharging radioactive water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean.

"We will respond by considering the advice" from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Juan Carlos Lentijo, who led an IAEA team to Japan, said in Tokyo on Wednesday that "controlled discharge is a regular practice in all the nuclear facilities in the world," and suggested the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant mull it as an option.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has been struggling to deal with a massive amount of radioactive water at the plant, which suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactors after being hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The IAEA team spent 10 days observing the decommissioning process at the Fukushima plant, 230 kilometres north-east of Tokyo.

Nuclear watchdog suggests Fukushima plant dump toxic water into ocean

The International Atomic Energy Agency suggested on Wednesday the operator of a damaged Japanese nuclear plant should consider discharging radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

"Controlled discharge is a regular practice in all the nuclear facilities in the world. And what we are trying to say here ... is to consider this as one of the options to contribute to a good balance of risks and to stabilize the facility for the long term," said Juan Carlos Lentijo, who led an IAEA team to Japan, said in Tokyo.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co "should prepare appropriate safety and environmental impact assessments and submit them for regulatory review," the agency said.

The team spent 10 days observing the decommissioning process at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, 230 kilometres north-east of Tokyo.

The plant suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactors after being hit by an earthquake and tsunami on March 2011.

Tokyo Electric has been struggling to deal with an increasing amount of radioactive water at the plant as it continues to inject water into the three reactors to keep them cool.

"The situation remains very complex, and there will continue to be very challenging issues that must be resolved to ensure the plant's long-term stability," Lentijo said. In late November, the operator started to remove more than 1,500 fuel rod assemblies from reactor 4. "We are still at the beginning of a lengthy process," Lentijo said.

"But Japan is gaining a better understanding of the situation, an understanding that is critical to address the challenges."

Read more:

- Fukushima two years on: still 'very complex' despite progress - IAEA

- Japan seeks new measures to tackle Fukushima crisis

- Water decontamination system in trouble at Japan's Fukushima

Voice of Russia, dpa

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