最終処分の話をしようや (6): 最終処分の資金はどうなっているのか

The budget of long term waste management

The budget for long term waste management depends on the country. Typically, the power companies that have nuclear power plants pool the budget for the back-end process. The size of the pool is based on the electricity fee. This is the user-pays principle: Someone who has a benefit must pay for it. This means that the consumers of electricity from the reactors pay for the decommissioning of the reactor and the long term waste management.

In Germany, the power companies pool the back-end budget of around 30-36 billion Euro. It seems that Germany has the largest back-end budget in the world, still there is no guarantee that it is large enough.

In Japan, some back-end budget is pooled, however, there is no budget for the long term storage. Since the Japanese plan assumes that the nuclear cycle will be established soon, and the nuclear cycle assumes that there is no nuclear waste (MOX used fuel).

In any case, the budget is most probably not enough and the people who did not use the energy need to pay the debt.

The status of long term waste management in the world

A final disposal facility for high level nuclear waste has not been implemented yet in the world (as of November 2014). The Onkalo used nuclear fuel repository on the west coast of Finland will be the world’s first deep geological repository for used fuel final disposal. It is currently under construction and planned to begin operation use around 2020. Here we summarize the current status of Germany and Japan.

The final used fuel disposal plan in Germany

For low-, middle-level nuclear waste final disposal, there were following plans in Germany. However, still many problems should be sorted out.

Schacht Konrad

  • 1000m deep under ground
  • Originally, this was an iron mine. The upper part is clay stratum.
  • The permission of operation has been issued. Use is planned for 2017. However, there are unresolved technical issues. There is a large possibility that the plan would be delayed.

Morsleben (at ex East Germany)

Asse (at ex West Germany)

  • 1000m deep under the ground
  • The deployment was begun in order to test whether the rock salt stratum is suitable for the purpose.
  • Water leaking was found. High level nuclear waste disposal was found. It was planed to remove all the nuclear waste.

Germany investigated the location of deep geological repository of high level nuclear waste at Gorleben. However, the discussion was cleared up. After that, the deep geological repository investigation committee has established and the committee representing many areas was gathered. Here is the current plan:

  • July, 2013, the law of how to decide the location of the final disposal facility.
  • The ministry of the final disposal facility has been established.
  • The procedure how to decide the location of final disposal facility will be established at the end of 2015.
  • The operation of the facility will be started in 2035. (Updated May 2015: The committee mentioned the operation of the final disposal facility should be postponed after 2170 due to not enough backend budget.)

At Gorleben, the stratum of Rock salt under 1000m from the ground was investigated. However, how to proceed is not clear yet.

In Germany, the first plan was an eternal repository. But the plan has
been changed. The operation time of the current plan is 1,000,000
years. For the first 500 years, we can still have access to the used
fuel. This is in case we could develop a technology to make the used
fuel innocuous in the first 500 years.

The final disposal plan in Japan

In Japan, the low level final nuclear waste disposal facility is in operation at Rokkasho-mura. The maximal depth of this repository is 100m.

Japanese plan of high level used fuel disposal is based on the assumption that the technology for a nuclear fuel cycle can be established soon. This means the reprocessing of the used fuel is a prerequisite and then the final disposal facility would not be necessary anymore. After the Fukushima’s accident, the discussion about establishing a final disposal facility raised, there is no concrete plan however of the final disposal yet both for used fuel and vitrified waste (as of May 2015).

A part of the high level nuclear waste is vitrified waste. 40,000 containers of vitrified waste will be produced in 2020 (estimate). For this waste, the government officially asked all the cities to be voluntarily a candidate location for the final disposal facility. There were around 10 candidate locations, but most of them were retreated and there is none as of December 2014. (Updated May 2015: The government gave up the public offering and has decided that the choice of the location will be up to the government [1].)

There are a few research facilities for a deep geological repository. At Horonobe-city in Hokkaido, the research is on going on a clay stratum, at the depth of more than 350m. At Mizunami-city in Gifu, a granite stratum at the depth of around 500m is being investigated.

However, Japan is a country with lots of ground water and has frequent earthquakes compare of to other countries. It is hard to find the location where “There is no ground water and the stratum is stable for more than 10,000 years.” The existence of ground water and the possibility of earthquakes are not well suited for a final disposal facility. This is a problem for Japan.

Yamauchi’s memorandum

Middle-/Low-level final disposal nuclear waste facility will be investigated in Miyagi prefecture [2] (Updated December 2014). This waste was the product of a decontamination process.

Principle of final disposal of spent fuel

The principle of final nuclear waste disposal is “In land and the user pays.” The consumers who actually used the electricity should pay all the cost. We should not pass this negative legacy to the next generations. But, it is not possible to avoid this anymore. We have a debt to the future.

What we could still do is, for instance, to invest in clean energy technology to alleviate the burden on the next generations. In our generation, we will not be able to finish the clean up of the negative legacy, i.e., reactor decomissioning and final waste disposal. Therefore, one way to decrease the next generation’s burden is to invest in sustainable energies and distribute the cost between the generations. Otherwise, the energy cost is not fairly distributed between the generations. If the generations of nuclear reactor put the cost to the next generation, the next generation will suffer from their development.

Yamauchi’s memorandum of the final disposal

Here is a conclusion including my personal opinions.

A nuclear power plant cannot run forever. Thus one day we need a decomissioning and a final waste disposal. This is independent of agreeing with or not for nuclear power. This is just a fact: a human made object will not stand forever. Fundamentally, human activity produces garbage.

The nuclear fuel cycle plan is based on an assumption that does not produce used fuel. The research into the nuclear fuel cycle in Japan spent more than 40 years and 100 billion yens, the prospect of the plan still does not stand [3]. I think we need a new plan since the assumption seems to have a problem. Many of the countries realized this problem and most of them have retracted the plan. Even if a nuclear fuel cycle plan is established, the reprocessing produces high level nuclear waste as vitrified waste. The amount of this high level waste is increasing (ref. a report of the federation of electric power companies of Japan [4]). This means we cannot avoid two negative legacies: decomissioning and final nuclear waste disposal.

I mentioned the “user-pays (beneficiary pays) principle”. This principle is for our future development. I think the energy problem is not a public service problem since the industry has a large role in energy consumption. We would in theory ignore the principle: Essentially we would not care about the future of our children and our country in order to gain something right now. Since these children do not exist yet, it is possible to have a democratic decision without them. I must ask this myself, is it ok? We elect governments that make a lot of debt for the future without a plan to pay it up. We could even decide that we do not want to return the debt. However, such people would lose trust. This means no more investment, since investors expect returns. I think we should think more about the meaning of the “user-pays principle.” If no investment is expected, we need a sustainable future, but what we are doing (living on the debt) is not sustainable.

It is not easy to find the information about the backend budget of Japan. (The backend budget for nuclear power plant is the budget for clearing up the plant: decomissioning, fanal disposal of waste, and so on.) The backend budget is about the user-pays principle. Today’s backend budget of Germany is 30 – 36 billion Euro (4 trillion yen as 136 yen/euro as of today (2015-7-3)). This is now considered not sufficient. According to the article [7], all the Japanese power companies as a whole should set aside 1.5 trillion yen for the decomissioning budget. The backend budget includes final waste disposal besides decommissioning. I am interested in how much backend budget the Japanese have set a side. I have not been able to find this information yet. Please notice that budget of Japan and Germany cannot be easily compared, since Japan has more than the twice reactors of Germany. The article [7] pointed out that Japanese power companies have a plan to collect the budget deficit even after the decommissioning. This means the people who did not use electricity will pay the backend budget as electricity fee. According to this plan, the nuclear energy fee cannot cover the whole life cycle of the nuclear energy, so fossile/water/solar power sources will cover the nuclear’s energy. I think the user-pays principle does not hold here. Moreover under the current law electricity consumers have no choice but to pay for the nuclear power life cycle via another type of energy. Our children have no choice as well, they need to pay for non-used electricity fee. I don’t find acceptable that they say “Here, there is some cheap stuff, use it!” then later say, “Hey, you have hidden debt because of that. Your children and grandchildren must also pay for that.” I also find hard to imagine, how our children and grandchildren look at it. Because of this, I find the backend budget an intersting item. I think that if someone uses them, he/she should also pay for it.

This is my personal opinion: I’d rather stop the investment to make the old system to just survive for a short time. It will be a burden to the country’s economic system. We can get a small gain for a few years span, but then we have a long term suffering negative effect. It’s this kind of effect that can cause the collapse of a country. I hope we are able to clear up the negative legacy as early as possible.

Another drawback of nuclear plants is negative effect for national security. One of the reasons that the U.S. have a hard time building a new nuclear plant is not only the cost itself, but also the security. You can find a discussion considering the terrorist danger for the nuclear plant [5]. In this discussion, nuclear power plants are good target for terrorists as a country can easily lose a large part of the land. On the other hand, natural energy, i.e., solar, wind, etc. is way safer in case of terrorism and war. Personally, I do not have enough knowledge to numerically evaluate this kind of cost, although some other countries have discussion this kind of costs. We could also consider them.

I would like to think about what future I would like to have, how we can decrease the negative legacy for our children, what can I do for that. I wish we and our children could have sustainable development in our future.

(Update: 2015-6-26(Fri) Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (Yoichi Miyazawa, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry) agreed to establish the working group of “Nuclear cycle operation” to discuss how to continue the nuclear cycle development [6].)

References

  1. Asahi Shinbun (朝日新聞), “The govenment leads to choose the waste processing site. [Promised location] was presented. The cabinet’s decision (国主導で原発ごみ処分地選定、「有望地」提示 閣議決定)(2015-5-22), http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH5Q335KH5QULBJ002.html, [Online; accessed 2015-7-2]
  2. Kahoku shinpou (河北新報), The governor of Miyagi has accepted the candidate’s investigation of the final waste disposal (宮城県知事,詳細調査受け入れ 最終処分場 2014-8-5), http://www.kahoku.co.jp/tohokunews/201408/20140805_11016.html, [Online; accessed 2014-12-22]
  3. Tokyo Shinbun (東京新聞), Spent 45 years and 100 billion yen. Nuclear fuel cycle has no concrete plan yet. {45年で10兆円投入.核燃サイクル事業めどなく), http://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/feature/nucerror/list/CK2012010502100003.html, [Online; accessed 2014-10-04]
  4. The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (電気事業連合会), Nuclear power plant (原子力発電について): Vitrified radioactive waste (ガラス固化体), http://www.fepc.or.jp/nuclear/haikibutsu/high_level/glass/, 2014, [Online; accessed 2014-12-21(Sun)]
  5. Amory Lovins, A 40-year plan for energy, TEDSalon NY2012, http://www.ted.com/talks/amory_lovins_a_50_year_plan_for_energy, [Online; accessed 2014-12-22]
  6. Asahi Shinbun (朝日新聞), Return to the nuclear power. Question on restarting the reactors 4: Nuclear fuel cycle office is looking for reopening the process (原発回帰 再稼働を問う:4核燃サイクル、再開にらむ (2015-7-11(Sat)), http://digital.asahi.com/articles/DA3S11852879.html, [Online; accessed 2015-7-11]
  7. Nishi-nippon Shinbun (西日本新聞), 40 percent deficit of nuclear decommisioning budget, Fill the budget by after the decommisioning through the electricity fees, investigated the back end budget of 9 power companies (原発解体費4割不足 廃炉後も電気料金で穴埋め 電力9社積立金調査 (2014-10-20)), http://qbiz.jp/article/48036/1/, [Online; accessed 2015-7-3]

最終処分の話をしようや (5): 最終処分の方法

Deep geological repository

One method for the final disposal storage is the deep geological repository method. Surprisingly, there was also an ocean disposal method. However, this method has environmental problems and is no longer permitted by international agreements. The deep geological repository method basically digs a deep hole and stores the waste in the hole. This method is considered as the most practical method.

The deep geological repository method blocks the radiation by two
methods.

  • Artificial barrier: container, concrete wall
  • Natural geological barrier: stratum

Most of the radiation blocking effect is by the natural barrier.

The level of the waste and the criterion of how deep the waste should be stored depends on the country. Some examples are following:

Low-, Middle-level waste

  • shallow (a few hundreds meters (e.g., Japan))
  • middle
  • deep (around 1000m (e.g., Germany))

High-level waste (+TRU waste)

  • deep geological storage

The stratum suited for high level nuclear waste are following. Each has own characteristics.

  • Clay stratum
    Disadvantage: This stratum has low thermal conductivity and the
    heat would not be well diffused. Therefore, the stratum could be
    dried out and might generate cracks. The waste would possibly
    leak through such cracks.
  • Granite stratum
    Disadvantage: The rock is relatively hard, thus the cost of
    digging is quite high. There could be ground water and the water
    diffuses the contamination of the waste.
  • Rock salt stratum
    Advantage: This stratum has high thermal conductivity and the
    heat of the high level waste is well diffused.\\
    Disadvantage: It is highly possible to have ground water since it
    was a sea in the past. The water diffuses the contamination of
    the waste.

For long term geological waste management, the following conditions are necessary for the stratum to stably store the waste.

  • Uniformity. (If the stratum is uniform, there is less possibility
    to have cracks, or less possible to cause them.)
  • No ground water. (Ground water possibly diffuses the waste.)
  • No movement. (We cannot stably store the waste in moving strata.)

Ground water and cracks may distribute the radioactive contamination, especially for the long term waste storage. Therefore, the non existence of ground water is an important condition.

Example of long term deep geological repository

The deep geological repository method typically consists in digging two vertical holes and connecting them with a tunnel under the ground where the stratum is suited for long term waste management. The waste will be stored in the tunnel.

Figure 4 shows the long term storage facility for low-/middle-level waste in Morsleben in the Eastern Germany time. You can see the huge storage faciliy under the ground. Later the government decided to stop using it and closed the Morsleben’s storage facility since there is a danger of rockfall for the rocksalt stratum.

morsleben_1511_3
Figure 4: Picture: the structure blueprint of the long term waste storage facility in Morsleben

Gorlben (in Germany) had a plan to build a general waste processing facility. First, the central interim storage facility has been built. Then, a facility was built to check that whether the rocksalt stratum of this area is suitable for the long term storage. However, there were some questions regarding the suitability, the investigation was suspended and reopened, repeatedly. The government decided to start over the process of choosing a location. A committee that will choose the candidate location has been established at the parliament.
Picture: oil in the stratum (Gorleben, Germany)

gorlben_DSC_0018
Figure 5: Picture: the structure blueprint of the long term waste storage facility in Morsleben

Figure 5 shows a pictures of stratum in the tunnel of Gorleben. The black part is oil and that means the rocksalt stratum is not uniform.

最終処分の話をしようや (4): 最終処分とは? 放射性廃棄物と放射能減衰の推移

We talked about what is the nuclear waste, how it is generated and what kind of process we need to do in order to put it in a final disposal storage. Since we still do not have a practical (cost effective) nuclide conversion technology, the most practical method to render nuclear waste innocuous is its long term management. In the next section, we will review the property of nuclear waste. That will bring up what kind of problems we have with the final disposal of waste.

Transition of used fuel radioactive decay

A chart of radioactive decay over time

When used fuel is taken away from a reactor it is highly radioactive. Thus we need to store it in somewhere and wait for the radioactivity to become lower. At the meeting we saw a radioactivity attenuation chart, which shows that it takes a long time.

Yamauchi’s memorandum

How long do we need to store the used fuel? If we only need to store the used fuel for a few months and the radioactivity level became low enough, nuclear waste management might not be a big issue. However, it is not so easy.

Figure 3 shows the radioactivity attenuation of used fuel over time. You can find this chart at the web site of Research organization for Information Science & Technology (RIST) [1], that refers to the web site of Japan nuclear cycle development institute asthe source of the data.
radioactive_timeline_2_enFigure 3: Radioactivity attenuation of vitrified waste over time. The x-axis is time in years, the center is 0 years. The y-axis is labeled `1 ton nuclear fuel (MTU) corresponding radioactivity [GBq]’
[Original figure] Japan nuclear cycle development institute: 2nd period of research and development of deep geologically repository, summary report I-4 (1999-11-26)

How to read Figure 3:

Let me show you how to read this chart. First, please notice the graph scale is log-log. What does this mean? Both axes of a log-log graph are described by exponent. You may be familiar with a linear graph. In a linear graph, one tick of an axis means usually +1 (or +n), but one tick of this chart is × 10. For example, one tick of this chart means ‘times ten’ instead of ‘plus one’. If you go two ticks, the value increases 100 times more.

The vertical axis shows the radioactivity in Becquerel. When the used fuel was taken from a reactor, the radioactivity indicated 1010 GBq/t.

1010 means 10 zeros after 1. Therefore, it is 10000000000, which is 10 billion. The character ‘G’ (Giga) before the unit `Bq’ is a SI-prefix, and it means 109. If you are familiar with computers, you know the memory size is represented as GBytes, which is 1000 times larger than MBytes. This means, 1010 GBq is 10,000,000,000 GBq = 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 Bq = 10 quintillion.

According to the criterion of the Japanese government, though it depends on nuclide and food, we should avoid eating food with an activity of more than 100 Bq per kg. Compare to this number, radioactivity of the used fuel is enormous. It seems beyond my imagination.

There is the 0 on the x-axis at the center of the graph. This is the time when the fuel is first used. To make Uranium useful as fuel, it is enriched, i.e., its radioactivity is increased. As we go to the right, time passes. The axis ticks increases 100 years, 102 years, and so on.

The exponent number of 10 has the same meaning as in the last example about Bq, how many zeros after the 1. This means, 100 years is one year (zero zeroes after 1), 102 years is 100 years, 104 years is 10,000 years, and 108 years is 100,000,000 years.

The graph shows a horizontal blue dotted line. This line shows the radioactivity when Uranium ore is in a mine. The cross point of the red line and the blue line is between 104 and 105 years. Therefore, it takes about 10000 to 100000 years until the radioactivity of used fuel reaches the level of naturally occurring Uranium ore.

By the way, it is unfair to compare the 100 Bq/kg for food and 10 quintillion Bq/t for used fuel. Note that the units are different: Bq/kg and Bq/t. This means that radioactivity of 1 Bq/kg is 1000 times higher than 1 Bq/t. Therefore a fair comparison is between 100 Bq/kg for food and 10 quadrillion Bq/kg for used nuclear waste. We sometimes miss the unit difference. Sometimes we could find these units are not consistent in some news articles. The different units are not technically a mistake, but it is still misleading. When we use the same unit here, 100 and 10 quadrillion are quite different.

These large numbers are hard to see. We do not know what 10 quintillion or 10 quadrillion are. Scientist usually use the scientific notation to write these numbers. The scientific notation uses exponent. In other words, this is how many zeros are in the number. 100 has two zeros after one, in exponent writing this is 102. 1 quadrillion is 10,000,000,000,000,000. This has 16 zeros after 1, it is 1016. Many advertisements use large numbers since they have a high impact when heard. For example, a sport drink in Japan claimed that was an 1000 mg effective medicine dosage, but this has the same effect as 1g of medicine dosage. Still, 1000 has makes an impression on us, so it is a good advertisement strategy. This is fine for an advertisement, however, I recommend to be careful about units an article about radioactive contamination for the news.

How long shall we keep the used nuclear fuel?

If you search about radioactivity attenuation of nuclear waste (Figure 3) you find many similar figures on the Web. I later realized that this figure only shows it takes more than 10 thousand years for the used fuel radioactivity to decay to the same level of an Uranium mine. I found nothing about the safety of the level of an Uranium mine. My first impression was, “wow, at least 10 thousands years, that’s a long time!” But I never asked the question: “is it safe after 10 thousands years?”

The blue line in the figure indicates 1000GBq/t, which means 1GBq/t (one billion Bq/t). 1 GBq/t is quite a large radioactivity value. Though one thing is not clear here that in the explanation, “1 ton nuclear fuel (MTU) corresponding radioactivity [GBq]”, I assume that this unit means GBq/t. If I convert it to Bq/kg, this is 1000 MBq/kg, that is 1GBq/kg, and this is 10 billion Bq/kg. As we mentioned before, the recommendation of safety for food is 100 Bq/kg according to Japanese government, and a value that is 10 million times larger does not safe to me.

I do not know what is blue line in Figure 3 means. Can I safely get near to some radioactive substances if the level is lower than this blue line? As a citizen, I am more interested in safety, so I try to connect this figure to safety, but this is not even labelled as radioactive dosage. I think this figure only shows the relationship between time and radioactivity attenuation, but that is not related to safety.

Progress of radioactive decay and waste management

Figure 3 shows the progress of radioactive decay over time. When the fuel is taken out of the reactor, its radioactivity is 10 billion GBq/t. After three to five years of cooling down in the fuel water tank, it becomes a few tens of million GBq/t. Then, after 30 to 50 years the radioactivity of vitrified waste in interim storage becomes a bit less than ten million GBq/t. Until the radioactivity drops to the level of a Uranium mine, we need to wait approximately ten thousand years. The final disposal process starts after the interim storage stage. Let’s see what is planned for that.

References

  1. Research Organization for Information Science and Technology (RIST: 高度情報科学技術研究機構), “Safety problems of high level nuclear waste and its processing (高レベル放射性廃棄物と処分対策の安全問題), note: the decay graph of vitrified waste can be accessed from this page)”, http://www.rist.or.jp/atomica/data/dat_detail.php?Title_Key=05-01-01-03, [Online; accessed 2015-7-1]

最終処分の話をしようや (3): 最終処分とは? 放射性廃棄物の処分方法

Procedures of handling the nuclear waste

Until now, we do not have a practical technology to render the nuclear waste innocuous. Therefore, what basically we can do is to wait for the nuclear waste to become low enough in radioactivity due to decay. To do so, we need to store the nuclear waste in a safe storage for a long time until it does not harm the environment.

The low level and middle level nuclear waste do not generate much heat, so it would be possible to store them in the final disposal storage immediately. But, what happened is that it gets stored in a middle term storage due to either of the following reasons:

  • There is no such final disposal storage (Most of the countries that have nuclear reactors have no final disposal storage. Ex. Japan.)
  • The process would take too long, even when there is a final disposal nuclear waste storage.

Since high level nuclear waste generates high temperature heat, we first need to cool it down. We store them in an interim storage facility to wait for it to cool down. Used nuclear fuel is a high level nuclear waste. First we usually store it in a fuel storage water pool for three to five years to cool it down. Next, we store it in a interim storage facility for 30 to 50 years. If it has cooled down enough, then we store it in a final disposal facility. There are some issues with this interim storage facility, for example where should we store and how should we store.

Japan also reprocesses used fuel, it is one of a few exceptional counties since most of the countries do not any more. In this case, the used fuel is stored in a fuel storage pool in the nuclear reactor building until it is sent to a reprocessing facility. This process of cooling down takes approximately 10 years in Japan. Reprocessing generates nuclear liquid waste as a by-product. One way to stabilize this waste is through vitrification. In the vitrification process, the high level waste is mixed with fragmented glass and melted. This is stored in a steel container called “canister.”

There are two interim storing strategy: 1. geologically distributing them among the nuclear power plants, 2. concentrating them in a few interim storage sites. In Germany, the used fuel is distributed among the nuclear power plants and the vitrified waste is stored in one storage facility.

There are two storing methods: 1. a used fuel pool method, where the used nuclear fuel is put in a water pool and cooled down with water. 2. A dry cask storage method, where the used fuel is put in a canister which in turn is put in a storage place on the ground and cooled down with air. The used fuel pool method needs less space than the dry cask storage method. It does not need special storage cases. Therefore, the cost of pool method for the used fuel lower than the dry method. However, if the water pool loses water for some reason, e.g., because of an earthquake, it is quite dangerous. The dry method needs more space but cooing only needs natural air, therefore this method can avoid the problems the pool method can have. But this method might still pollute the environment with neutron radiation. Despite Japan having relatively frequent earthquakes compare to other countries, the pool method is used. This means that even if all the nuclear reactors would not run, Japan is always under danger because of earthquakes.

Germany uses the dry method. The interim storage facility of Germany is located in Gorleben. In our meeting we saw a documentary film that shows the facility in Gorleben. We saw many casks with fins for cooling in the facility.

In either case pool or dry method, the waste is first stored for 30 to 50 years in the interim storage facilities, afterwords, it will be put in the final disposal storage facilities. This process flow is shown in Figure.

Process flow of used nuclear fuel
Figure 2: Process flow of used nuclear fuel

Yamauchi’s memorandum

Supplemental information on vitrified waste:

Vitrified waste emits high radiation right after having been generated, so high to kill a person near will die in 20 seconds. Its surface temperature is more than 200 degree C. (c.f. The web site of “The federation of electric power companies of Japan”[1])

This waste will be stored and cooled down for 30 to 50 years in a interim storage site. Reprocessed plutonium can be turned into a MOX (mixed oxides) fuel, Or, alternatively it can be reused in the nuclear cycle. A national research institute has been established to develop a feasible nuclear cycle, and this research has been going on for over 40 years (and 10 trillion yen been spent), but still there is no plan [2] and the government continues to invest on this.

Supplemental information of nuclear transmutation technology:

Nuclear transmutation technology is fundamentally a technology that is able to change the atomic elements. Nuclear fission is one of such technologies. Mankind has spent a few thousand years to efforts in a field called “chemistry” in order to be able to do precisely this. Element conversion at will is a very old dream of mankind. For example, alchemists were looking for a method to convert lead into gold. This is what nuclear transmutation technology could do, but unfortunately we still do not have a practical technology to achieve that, especially to process a large amount of nuclear waste. A national funded project in Japan, the Omega project [3] is an endeavor of such kind.

References

  1. 電気事業連合会 (The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan), 原子力発電について (About Nuclear power plant): ガラス固化体 (Vitrified radioactive waste),  ([Online; accessed 2014-12-21(Sun)])
  2. 東京新聞 (Tokyo Shinbun), 45年で10兆円投入.核燃サイクル事業めどなく (10 trillion yen been spent for 45 years, still no plan of nuclear cycle), [Online; accessed 2014-10-04]
  3. Wikipedia ja, オメガ計画 (Plan Omega), [Online; accessed 2015-3-28]

最終処分の話をしようや (2): 最終処分とは? 放射性廃棄物とは?

The final disposal of nuclear waste consists in storing the waste until its radioactivity becomes low enough to not affect the environment. We first talk about what kind of nuclear waste there is, then what the sources of the waste are, and then how we manage them.

What is nuclear waste?

There are two criteria to define whether some waste is nuclear waste or not. The first one is based on measuring the amount of radiation that is absorbed in a certain amount of time (10 mSv/y), the second one is based on the amount of emitted radiation (radioactivity, Bq). Both have thresholds that used to define whether something is nuclear waste or not. If some specific waste goes over either one of two thresholds, it is classified as nuclear waste. One other point here is if a waste is less than this criteria even the waste has some radioactivity, such waste can be recycled in the market.

Yamauchi’s memorandum

Previously, I had the misconception that all the waste which is radioactive and which is produced by nuclear reactors is nuclear waste. However, there is a criterion that defines what nuclear waste is. In a later section, I extended my memo about the meaning of the criterion. For instance, what is Sievert and what is Becquerel, and what is the difference between radioactivity and radiation.

Classification of nuclear waste

Nuclear waste is classified in the following three categories:

  • High level (TRU waste, used nuclear fuel)
  • Middle level (This waste is rare)
  • Low level

Germany’s classification is based on how much heat the waste generates since it is important for the waste management. TRU waste consists of TRans-Uranium elements whose atomic number is higher than Uranium. TRU waste is usually generated by a running reactor.

Source of nuclear waste

The sources of high level nuclear waste (+TRU waste) are:

  • Used nuclear fuel
  • Waste liquid by reprocessing, vitrified waste
  • etc. …

The sources of low and middle level nuclear waste are:

  • Nuclear power plant
  • Decommissioning process
  • Nuclear fuel fabrication facility
  • Used nuclear fuel reprocessing plant
  • (uranium mine, enrichment plant)(mining field)
  • Medical institution
  • Industrial factory
  • Research and development institutions, miscellaneous

A nuclear power plant always produces nuclear waste regardless of whether the reactors are running or not, because of the maintenance process. For example, the clothes of the workers will become irradiated even if the reactor is not active. Hospitals and some industry are also sources since they use radioactive materials.

All nuclear waste is managed as dangerous substances by law in Germany. On the other hand, the last three items are not managed as dangerous substances in Japan. Therefore, we do not know how some nuclear waste is transported or preserved in Japan.

Yamauchi’s memorandum

In my personal opinion, Japan should also handle the last three items as dangerous substances as in Germany. This is to ensure control of these types of radioactive waste.

The classification as nuclear waste should depends on whether the radiation dose is more than 10mSv/y or not. If the radiation dose is less than 10mSv/y, we can recycle the waste in the public market. However, this threshold (10mSv/y) does not really tell whether this is safe or not. I would like to notice that by this criterion, safety is unclear. Also according to this definition, we can recycle a steel with 9.9mSv/y radiation dose to build a house or household items. This is legal. If you search with keywords “steel radioactive waste recycle”, you can find some information. However, many of the cases could be completely legal. In this article, I do not discuss the safety of this clearance criterion since the safety of radioactive waste is difficult to discuss. The best way is just to avoid it. But I would like to point out that some waste which is pass this criterion can be legally in our market.

最終処分の話をしようや (1): 核のゴミの現状: なぜ最終処分の話なのでしょうか?

In our last meeting “Let’s talk about nuclear decommissioning,” we realized the nuclear decommissioning produces nuclear waste. But we did not talk about what do we do about the nuclear waste. A nuclear decommissioning is about what do we do for a reactor after its lifespan ended or cannot use the reactor anymore when it is broken by any reason (e.g., an accident). What we learned was that a decommissioning costs money (e.g., 1 billion dollar/reactor) and time (e.g., 30 years). Even then the decommissioning has finished, the nuclear waste still remains. The last meeting ended here. Then some of our members asked: “What do we do about the nuclear waste?” “How much does they cost?” “Who need to pay that?” “What is the current plan?”

The members of SNB (Sayonara Nukes Berlin) originally asked both questions: nuclear decommissioning and nuclear waste management. However, two and half hours were not enough to talk about both themes. So, we have this second meeting.

Let's talk about nuclear waste: A meeting snapshot
Let’s talk about nuclear waste: A meeting snapshot

 

There are two parts alternately in this report: Fukumoto’s lecture and Yamauchi’s memorandum. Yamauchi’s memorandum is the part of how the reporter understood.

Introduction

In the first meeting, Fukumoto pointed out the importance of “think through what I can do as a citizen,” when anyone thinks about the energy problem. He would like to add one more point in this meeting:

After the Fukushima incident, we had blackout days. When the power companies explained that this is because we do not have nuclear reactors running. Can you still be against the nuclear reactor? Please think through this once more.

He mentioned the importance of thinking about the problem first and having an opinion. It is important to understand the problem yourself and also important to find the information by yourself. It does not matter whether you are in favor of the reactor or against the reactor. But you need to find the correct information and you need to think about the problem based on that information.

Yamauchi’s memorandum

The sections of Yamauchi’s memorandum shows the reporter’s opinion and research; how we think in the current situation, how we think about our future. Under our current political system, these ideas will be shown in the vote. After the meeting, I reconsider this.

What I thought was that: Do I want to have a future with nuclear reactors? Do I agree with the nuclear reactors because the electric company said they are needed. Do I disagree with the nuclear reactors if the electricity is enough? I thought first I needed a clear vision for our future. The vision should not depend on whether the current electricity is enough or not. The reality would have some compromises, but the vision should not. I would like to think about what I could do, or what each of us could do for our future. Of course this also includes the near future, tomorrow. Shall I make a compromise tomorrow? Another idea is that there is no future without tomorrow. So we could put the highest priority on tomorrow. It is not a simple problem. Still I think I should have a clear vision for the future. Because we and our children will live in that future. In my personal opinion, I could not agree with the idea that now is important enough, so that we can destroy the future.

We see a lot of potential in our technology. I understand that we cannot stop using electricity now. However, we have some technology that generates sustainable energy. For example, a combination of solar energy and hydrogen energy, we might have a stable energy source. We could develop a technology to produce this energy at low cost in the future. Investing in such technology is also a way of working on the future. One day we could export such technology to the people who need all over the world.

We also have a lot of possibility in politics. We can provide a way to only buy natural energy for the people who want this. This means we can also provide a way to only sell nuclear energy to the people who want it. I see that the current problem in Japan is that the people cannot choose in either way. (There is an official plan to make this possible.) We can work on these political problems together.

In the end, I need to have my own opinion based on the current situation. It will be cumbersome, it will be hard, but I need to understand the current situation. I hope this report is of use to someone who would like to understand the current situation.

We tend to avoid the politics, we can leave it alone. But politics will catch you. — Richard Stallman.

会津磐梯山リミックス2015

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You can listen to the exclusive remixes of Aizu-Bandaisan (a folk song from Fukushima) that were created for our anti-nuclear Kazaguruma Demo – Remember FUKUSHIMA – held on March 7th, 2015 in Berlin.  Enjoy a wide variety of 14 songs!

https://sayonaranukesberlin.bandcamp.com/album/remix-for-fukushima

Our deepest appreciation goes to the artists who devoted their time and effort voluntarily to this project.  Thank you so much!!

Please note:   The artists who provided the songs retain the copyrights and duplication of the copyrighted material for commercial use without permission is prohibited.

 

Sayonara Nukes Berlin

核のない未来へと希望をのせて「かざぐるまデモ」2015

3月7日、東京電力福島第1原発事故から4年が経つのを前にベルリンで反原発デモを行いました。
ドイツ人、日本人、韓国人、イスラエル人などベルリンに住む市民ら約700人が参加しました。
Anti-Atom-Berlin(アンチアトムベルリン)、NaturFreunde Berlin e.V(ナトゥアフロインデ)、ドイツの反原発、自然保護団体2団体との共催で行いました。
今回は「福島を忘れないで!」をテーマに、原発事故を風化させないこと、日本の原発再稼動・原発の海外輸出に反対するとともに、世界のすべての原発の早期廃炉と再生可能エネルギーへの転換を求めました。
核のない未来へとの希望をかざぐるまに象徴し、昨年に続き今年も「かざぐるまデモ」と名付けたデモ。前日まで雨が降っていましたが、見事に晴れ、かざぐるまが風を受け勢いよく回っていました。

Puppe’n Muckeのライブ演奏がはじまりの合図となり、ブランデンブルク門前に集まった人々の注目を浴びました。その後、ブランデンブルク門前を舞台にSayonara Nukes Berlinから梶川ゆうさんが開会のあいさつをし、「福島の原発事故はいつでもどこでも起こりえます。放射能まみれの地球を次世代に残してはいけません」と訴えました。
(あいさつ全文)
参加者は東日本大震災での犠牲者と世界中で放射能の被害に遭った人々に黙とうをしました。
福島県の民謡「会津磐梯山」に合わせてかんしょ踊りのレクチャーをした後、BodyPoetとTakushi&Friendsによるかんしょ踊りのダンスパフォーマンスが行われ、「Jetzt los!」(さぁ出発)の掛け声でデモが出発しました。
かんしょ踊りとは福島県会津地方に伝わる踊りで、他の反原発アクションシーンでも踊られています。
アンチアトムの横断幕「FUKUSHIMA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI ATOMTOD STOPP 福島 広島 長崎 被曝死ストップ」(ママ)、女優の木内みどりさんから届いた横断幕「DON’T FORGET FUKUSHIMA」を先頭にデモは進んでいきました。
参加者は「会津磐梯山」のリミックス曲に合わせ、踊ったり、リズムにノったりしながらベルリンの中心街をデモ行進しました。
リミックス曲は公募し、ドイツ、フランス、イギリス、メキシコ、日本から15人のミュージシャン、DJからの応募がありました。そのうちの数曲をDJ SiSeNが演奏しました。
ひょっとこ、おかめ、きつねのお面を被ったり、和装をしたり、法被を着たりして踊る様子は観光客や道行く人々の目を引いていました。
最終地点Potsdamer Platz(ポツダマープラッツ)に到着後、日本で「のりこえねっと」(ヘイトスピーチとレイシズムを乗り越える国際ネットワーク)の共同代表をしている辛淑玉(シンスゴ)さんのあいさつがありました。
(全文)
Anti-Atom BerlinのBernd Lisekさんが閉会のあいさつをしました。
(全文)
最後はPuppe’n Muckeのライブ演奏で締めくくりました。
デモに参加した保育士のカタリーナ・ヴァルケンティンさん(26)は「原発事故は健康被害や環境破壊をもたらします。原発ではなく再生可能エネルギーに転換すべき。子どもの未来のためにも原発はなくすべきです」と話していました。

わたし自身、2回目の参加となる「かざぐるまデモ」。集会が始まる前にワークショップで作ったかざぐるまを参加者や観光客に渡していると、ブランデンブルク門を見に来た日本人観光客が参加しますとかざぐるまを受け取ってくれたり、かざぐるまを受け取ったスペイン語圏の観光客が「一体何をしているの?」と聞いてきて、説明するとわたしたちの主旨に賛同してくれたりと昨年より事前にデモを知らなかった人たちが関心を寄せてくれたようにじました。ライブがあったり、音楽が流れていたという雰囲気が飛び入りのデモへの参加をしやすくしたのではないかと思います。残念ながら東京電力福島第1原発事故を知らない外国の方もおり、時間の経過とともに特に海外では関心が薄れていきがちになってしまうことですが、世界の問題として、日本のみなさんとも連帯し、続けていくことが大切だと改めて感じました。

希望の象徴・かざぐるまを作る。

   P1030970

Zeronomikuma arrived in Berlin!  He flew all the way from Japan to join us in Kazaguruma Demo.

Despite his long flight and jet-lag, he joined our pinwheel-making&dance workshop last Saturday. We had fun making all the pinwhees which will be distributed at our Demo, we made over 600 pinwheels so far!   We thank all of those who participated in the workshop.  We are very much looking forward to meeting with you at Kazaguruma Demo on March 7th. Let us raise No Nukes pinwheels to the sky together!

Zeronomikuma is a popular Japanese mascot character who is promoting the phase-out of nuclear energy. He travels everywhere where anti-atom events take place to encourage people.  His blog (only Japanese):http://zeronomikuma.com/

「かざぐるまデモ」やります! ”フクシマを忘れないで!”  かんしょ踊りで大行進 07.03.2015

Flyer (front) 

Kazaguruma-Demo to mark the 4th Anniversary of FUKUSHIMA

Sa. March 7th, 2015,  from 13:00 Uhr Brandenburger Tor

 Sayonara Nukes Berlin, Anti-Atom-Berlin and NaturFreunde will hold its third anti-nuclear public rally “Kazaguruma Demo” on March 7, 2015. Our motto will be: “Vergesst FUKUSHIMA nicht! (Remember FUKUSHIMA!)”.

We will march through the city center of Berlin holding Kazaguruma (pinwheel in Japanese) to remember the lesson learned through the Fukushima disaster and call for a nuclear-free future. 

To show our respect to the culture that the people in the Fukushima region embrace, we will dance one of their traditional folk dances “Kansho-Odori”with remix music of a popular folk song from Fukushima called “Aizu-Bandaisan” in our parade.  

Join us and dance with us!

* Kazaguruma (pinwheels) will be distributed during the opening of the demo on 07.03.

http://kazagurumademo.de/

What does “Kansho-Odori” look like?  Check this out! =>  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofDNxVGFpC0

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