Wednesday 22 May 2013

Costly mistake

You remember the leakage of contaminated water from storage pools back in April estimated to be 120 tonnes and 7.1 billion bq. of radioactive material? The plastic wall of the pools did indeed split but once Tepco got round to digging holes and actually measuring the amount of leakage, the figure turns out to be a mere 20 litres! The fault seems to have been in mistaken settings for the instruments used to measure water levels in the pools. Within days a decision was taken not to use the seven pools and they're all being emptied. What a palaver. Tepco has apologised yet again for the anxiety caused. 'Shinpai o kakete moshiwake nai'. Quite.

And then there was the furore over safety at the Monju fast breeder reactor in Fukui. The head of JAEA (Japan Atomic Energy Agency) resigned over the matter but only the day before the PM had told the Diet that the nuclear fuel cycle policy (making MOX fuel for fast reactors) would continue. The Monju plant is a white elephant. It costs a fortune to maintain and has only produced one hour of electricity since its first testing 20 years ago. The problem is that Japan has 40 tons of weapons grade plutonium that need to be used up, as fuel in this reactor. France and the United Kingdom reprocess nuclear fuel to make MOX fuel. America doesn't because of non-proliferation considerations. Japan was given special permission, which was not granted to Korea. So this is a political problem, not an economic one.

Nearer home, for those of you who know Koriyama, demolition work has begun on the Marui building in front of the station which has been vacant since 1994. Buildings aren't blasted to bits with dynamite in this country. It's a very tidy process. (Even more incredible is the gradual taking apart of the Akasaka Prince Hotel in Tokyo you can see featured on the BBC website under the headline 'Japan's Incredible Shrinking Building'). Round here the building is covered in sheeting and the building dismantled inside. Then one day the sheeting comes down revealing a headturningly empty space. There's a lot of pedestrian traffic on three sides of the Marui building and I feel a bit nervous passing so close but no one else seems to bother. The owners plan a new building of shops aimed at young people.

I'm off to Osaka tomorrow for a meeting and staying on for the weekend. Highs of 28'C forecast. So nothing from me till next week.
Stay well

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. We were wondering just the other day what the plans were for that building. It doesn't do much for consumer confidence to have a building like that unused by the station.