Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant

Infobox Nuclear power plant
Picture = Kashiwazaki-Kariwa cropped.jpg
Pic_des = Aerial view. The controlled area where waste heat is dumped into the ocean can be seen fairly clearly. There is a buffer zone of green space between the plant and nearby farms.
Country = Japan
coords = coord|37|25.7|N|138|36.1|E |region:JP-15_type:landmark |display=title,inline
Built = 1977
Start = September 18, 1985
End =
Reactor = 7
Reactor_MW = 8212
S_Reactor =
S_Reactor_MW =
B_Reactor =
B_Reactor_MW =
E_Reactor =
E_Reactor_MW =
El_Prod = 50,791
for_year = 2006
El_Prod_avg = 44,513
Net_Prod = 764,582
as_of = July 25, 2007
The nihongo|Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant|柏崎刈羽原子力発電所|Kashiwazaki-Kariwa genshiryoku-hatsudensho|Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP is a large, modern (housing the world's first ABWR) nuclear power plant on a 4.2 square kilometer site including land in the towns of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in the Niigata Prefecture, Japan on the coast of the Sea of Japan, from where it gets cooling water. The plant is owned and operated by The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).

It is the largest nuclear generating station in the world by net electrical power rating. It was near the epicenter of the strongest earthquake to ever occur at a nuclear plant, the Mw 6.6 July 2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake. This shook the plant beyond design basis and initiated an extended shutdown for inspection. In May 2008 TEPCO concluded that greater earthquake-proofing was needed before operation can be resumed.

As of CURRENTMONTHNAME CURRENTYEAR, the entire plant is still shut down for exhaustive inspections and seismic upgrades following the earthquake.


There are seven units, which are all lined up along the coast line. Numbering starts at Unit 1 with the south-most unit up to Unit 4, then there is a large green space in between Unit 4 and 5, then it continues with Units 6 and 7, the newest of the reactors.

The power installation costs for units at this site well reflect the general trend in costs of nuclear plants. Capital costs increased through the 1980s but have become cheaper in modern times. The last two units were the first Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) ever built.


Such a large plant size has several economic advantages, one of these advantages is very little effect on net power production due to refueling outages of individual units. A smooth transition was seen in the power production history of the plant up through the time the last two units were built. Unfortunately, since completion the plant has seen two events that caused the entire plant to be shut down. The last of these two events is ongoing and data is not available yet, data for the rest of the plant's history is shown below:

2002 Scandal shut downs

The reactors at the KK plant were shut down one by one after the discovery of deliberate falsification of data. The first one was taken offline September 9, 2002 and the last one was taken offline January 27, 2003. [ [http://www10.antenna.nl/wise/582/5487.html WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor; UPDATE ON TEPCO SCANDAL ] ] The newest units, the more inherently safe ABWRs, were taken back online the quickest and suffered the smallest effect. Units 1, 2, and 3 on the other hand, generated no electricity whatsoever during the entire fiscal year of 2003.


All reactors continue to use low-enriched Uranium as the nuclear fuel, however, there have been plans drafted by Tepco to use MOX fuel in some of the reactors by the permission of the atomic energy commission. A public referendum in the Kariwa village in 2001 voted 53% against use of the new fuel. After the 2002 Tepco data fabrication scandals, the president at the time, Nobuya Minami, announced that plans to use the MOX fuel at the KK plant would be suspended indefinitely.


Earthquake resistant design features

The foundation of the plant goes through an unstable layer of sand down to a sturdy layer of bedrock, and thus the foundation was very deep. Four stories are underground currently as a result of this. The large portion underground also supposedly makes it less likely to suffer large sways due to resonance vibrations. As with other Japanese power plants, the plant was built according to strict earthquake-resistance standards which are regulated by the law and the atomic energy commission.

In 2006, the safety standards for Japan's nuclear plant's earthquake resistance were modified and tightened. After the 2007 earthquake, suspicions arose that another fault line may be closer than originally thought to the plant, and possibly running straight through the site.

2004 Chūetsu Earthquake

In the 2004 Chūetsu earthquake on November 4, 2004, devices around the base of the plant only measured 4 on the Japanese seismological intensity scale while other nearby places measured 6.

All of the reactors except for Unit 4 were operating normally at the time of the earthquake and continued to do so through the quake, Unit 4 was shut down due to routine maintenance. Unit 7 shut down during an aftershock because the turbine thrust bearing wear trip signal was activated.

2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake

The KK plant was 19 kilometers away from the epicenter of the 2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake, which took place 10:13 a.m., July 16, 2007. Shaking of 6.8 m/s² was recorded in Unit 1 in the east-west direction, above the design specification for safe shutdown of 4.5 m/s², and well above the rapid restart specification for key equipment in the plant of 2.73 m/s². [ cite news |url=http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/corporate/Profits_shaken_at_Tepco_310707.shtml |title= "Profits shaken at Tepco" |date=31 July 2007 |publisher= "World Nuclear News" |accessdate=2007-08-01] Units 5 and 6 also recorded shaking over this limit. [Asahi.com. [http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200707180144.html Quake exposes nuke-plant danger] . July 18, 2007.] Shaking of 20.58 m/s² was recorded in the turbine building of Unit 3. [cite news |url=http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/31/asia/AS-GEN-Japan-Quake-Nuclear.php |title= "Quake-hit Japanese nuclear plant may have experienced strongest shaking on record in world" |date=31 July 2007 |publisher="International Herald Tribune" |accessdate=2007-08-01] Those nearby saw black smoke which was later confirmed to be an electric transformer that had caught fire at Unit 3. [ABC News. [http://www.abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3380387 Strong Quake Rocks Northwestern Japan] . July 16, 2007.] Xinhua News. [http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-07/16/content_6382679.htm Two die, over 200 injured in strong quake in Japan] . July 16, 2007.] The fire was put out by noon on the day of the quake, about 2 hours after it started. The 3-story transformer building was nearly completely charred. [Chunichi Web. [http://www.chunichi.co.jp/s/article/2007071601000275.html 柏崎刈羽原発が緊急停止 3号機外の変圧器で火災] (Japanese)]

Reactor units 2, 3, 4, and 7 all automatically powered down safely in response to the quake, while units 1, 5, and 6 were already shut down for inspection at the time. TEPCO was ready to restart some of the units as of the next day, but the trade ministry ordered the plant to remain idle until additional safety checks could be completed. On Wednesday, July 18, the mayor of Kashiwazaki ordered operations at the plant to be halted until its safety could be confirmed. [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/07/18/asia/japan.php Nuclear plant hit by earthquake closed indefinitely in Japan] , Associated Press in the "International Herald Tribune", published 2007-07-18, accessed 2007-07-19.] The "Nikkei" reported that government safety checks could delay the restart for over a year, without stating the source of the information. [http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/T112824.htm TEPCO shares dive on risk of lengthy shutdown] , Reuters, published 2007-07-19, accessed 2007-07-19] For comparison, in 2005, a reactor at the Onagawa NPP was closed for five months following an earthquake.

IAEA Inspection

Wikinews|Japan to request IAEA inspection of quake-damaged nuclear plant The International Atomic Energy Agency offered to inspect the plant, which was initially declined. The governor of Niigata prefecture then sent a petition to Shinzo Abe. On Sunday, July 22, the NISA announced that it would allow inspectors from the United Nations to review the damage. [Reuters. [http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUST20337520070722 Japan accepts IAEA inspectors after quake troubles] . July 22, 2007. accessed July 22, 2007.]

A team from the IAEA carried out a four day inspection, as investigations by Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) continued. [ [http://www.iaea.org/NewsCenter/PressReleases/2007/prn200715.html IAEA Team to Visit Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant] , "IAEA", published 2007-08-03, accessed 2007-08-06] The team of the IAEA confirmed that the plant had "shut down safely" and that "damage appears less than expected."cite web | publisher= World Nuclear News | url = http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/regulationSafety/Kashiwazaki_Kariwa_visit_concludes_150807.shtml?jmid=1050181513 | title = Kashiwazaki Kariwa visit concludes | date = 2007-08-15 | accessdate=2007-08-15] On August 19, the IAEA reported that, for safety-related and nuclear components, "no visible significant damage has been found" although "nonsafety related structures, systems and components were affected by significant damage". [ [http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20070819a2.html "The Japan Times" Online] ]

The official report issued by the IAEA stated that the plant "behaved in a safe manner" after a 4-day inspection. Other observations and recommendations were:
*"Safety related structures, systems and components of the plant seem to be in a general condition, much better than might be expected for such a strong earthquake, and there is no visible significant damage"
* Conservatisms introduced in the construction of the plant compensated for the magnitude of the earthquake being so much greater than planned for.
* A re-evaluation of the seismic safety.
* Detailed geophysical investigations [ "Nuclear Engineering International". [http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectionCode=132&storyCode=2046814 IAEA report on Kashiwazaki-Kariwa] . 31 August 2007.]

External inspections of the plant are planned to be completed by the end of July 2008. The schedule was confirmed on 10 July 2008 by the site superintendent, Akio Takahashi. On July 15, Akira Amari said his ministry was also continuing their own tests. An IAEA workshop in June 2008 recognized that the earthquake exceeded the "seismic input" used in the design in that plant, and that regulations played a critical role in keeping the plant safe. [NucNet. [http://www.worldnuclear.org/_news_database/rss_detail_features.cfm?objID=9299F0F7-F250-4DBA-B3D9B4E6FDAB6BEE Inspections Draw To Close At Quake-Hit Japan Plant] . July 22, 2008.]

Radiation Releases

Initially, it was thought that some water (estimated to be about 1.5 L) from the spent fuel pool leaked into the Sea of Japan as a result of the quake. [ "The Washington Post". [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/16/AR2007071601712.html Earthquake Spills Water At Japanese Nuclear Plant] . July 17, 2007.] [BBC News. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6901213.stm Nuclear scare after Japan quake] . July 16, 2007.] Later, more detailed reports confirmed a number of releases, though most of them were far less active than common natural radiation sources. According to the NISA, this was the first time a release of radioactive material happened as a result of an earthquake.
*0.6 litres of slightly radioactive water leaked from the third floor of the Unit 6 reactor building, which contained 280 becquerels of radioactivity. (For reference, a household smoke detector typically contains 37,000 Bq (1.0 microcuries) of radioactivity [Howstuffworks.com. [http://home.howstuffworks.com/smoke2.htm How smoke detectors work] ] , and a living adult human typically has around 8000 Bq of naturally occuring radioactivity inside her body.)
*0.9 litres of slightly radioactive water leaked from the inner third floor of the Unit 6 reactor building, containing 16,000 Bq of radioactivity.
*From unit 6, 1.3 cubic meters of water from the spent fuel pool leaked from the pool, and flowed into through a drainage pipe, ultimately into the Sea of Japan. The water contained 80 Bq/L, totaling 90,000 Bq in the release. [ [http://www.tepco.co.jp/cc/press/07071604-j.html Official word from TEPCO regarding activated water releases] ] For comparison, an Onsen located in Misasa, Tottori, Japan uses water with a large concentration of radon, which gives it a radioactivity of 9300 Bq/L. The leaked water from the plant did not pose a health risk even before being diluted. Towels were used to mop up the water. [Asahi. [http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200707250500.html Towels used to mop up nuke spill] . July 26.]
*On Wednesday June 18, at Unit 7, radioactive Iodine was found leaking from an exhaust pipe by a government inspector, the leak began between Tuesday and Wednesday and was confirmed to have stopped by Thursday night. The amount of radioactivity released into the air was about 402 MBq. [ [http://www.meti.go.jp/press/20070720001/no3_press.pdf 平成 19 年新潟県中越沖地震における東京電力(株)柏崎刈羽原子力発電所 7 号機の主排気筒からのヨウ素等の検出について (第 3 報)] (A press release published by Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, METI), July 20, 2007, in Japanese] This was said to have been one 10 millionth of the legal limit. [Bloomburg. [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=aISahKatmLSM&refer=japan Tokyo Electric Shares Drop to 9-Month Low After Quake (Update3)] . July 19.] It is estimated that this caused an unintentional dose of 0.0002 nanosieverts (nSv), per person distributed among around 10 million people. The limit for dose to the public from the operations of a nuclear plant in Japan in one year is 1100 nSv. In regards to the cause, Yasuhisa Shiozaki said "This is an error of not implementing the manual," because the vent should have been closed. [ABC News. [http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory?id=3396843 Another Radioactive Leak at Japan Plant] . July 20, 2007.]

Other Problems

About 400 drums containing low-level nuclear waste stored at the plant were knocked over by the aftershocks, 40 losing their lids. ["Forbes". [http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/07/18/ap3926533.html Company: Japan Radioactive Leak Bigger] . July 18, 2007. accessed July 21, 2007.] Company officials reported on July 17 that traces of the radioactive materials cobalt-60, iodine, and chromium-51 had been released into the atmosphere, presumably from the containers losing their lids.

Criticisms of the company's response to the event included the time it took the company to report events and the certainty with which they were able to locate the source of various problems. Tepco's president, in fact, made a comment the site was a "mess"NDTV.com. [http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN20070019476 Japan: Nuke plant closed indefinitely] . Thursday, July 19, 2007. accessed July 21, 2007.] after visiting post-quake. While the reported amount of leaked radioactivity remained far below what poses a danger to the public, details changed multiple times in the few days after the quake and attracted significant media attention. After the quake, Tepco was supposedly investigating 50 separate cases of "malfunctioning and trouble," a number that was changed to 63 cases later. [FOXNews.com http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,290158,00.html] Even the radioactivity sensors around the site encountered trouble, the reading from these devices are normally available online, giving the public a direct measure of ambient radioactivity around the site, but due to damage sustained during the earthquake, stopped reporting on the website. The company published an apology on that page, and data from the devices during the off-line was released later, showing no artificial abnormalities (note that the readings naturally fluctuate depending on whether it's raining or snowing and a host of other factors). [The detector data from the onset of the earthquake through the next day: [http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/kk-np/info/pdf/19071702.pdf] ]

Tepco's president still maintained that fears of a radiation leak were unfounded (ie the amount leaked into the ocean increased by 50% but were still a billionth of the legal limit), but many reporters of the international community expressed distrust of the company that has had a history of cover-up controversies. The IAEA's Mohamed ElBaradei also strongly encouraged full "transparency" throughout the investigation of the accident so that lessons learned could be applied to nuclear plants elsewhere.


News of the earthquake, combined with the fact that replacement power sources (such as oil and gas) are at record highs, caused TEPCOs stock to plummet 7.5%, the largest drop in seven years, which amounted to around 4.4 billion USD lost in stock capitalization. [Bloomberg News. [http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aCWh.1vTk3_Y&refer=home Tokyo Electric Shares Drop Most in 7 Years on Quake (Update1)] . July 19, 2007.] This made the event even more costly to the company than the 2002 data falsification scandal. Additionally, Tepco warned that the plant closure could cause a power shortage during the summer months."International Herald Tribune". [http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/07/20/asia/AS-GEN-Japan-Quake.php Leak at Japan nuke plant blamed on failure to follow operating manual] ] Trade minister Akira Amari requested that business users cut electricity use, ["The Independent". [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/asia/article2788602.ece Fear and fury in shadow of Japan's damaged nuclear giant] . July 21, 2007. accessed July 21, 2007.] and in August TEPCO was forced to reduce electricity supplies for industrial uses, the first time it had to resort to such measures in 17 years.cite news |url=http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectioncode=188&storyCode=2047061 |title= "Japan's PR aftershock" |date=14 September 2007|publisher= "Nuclear Engineering International" |accessdate=2007-10-25]

Reports of the leak caused thousands of cancellations at resorts and hotels along the Sea of Japan coast, even as far as Murakami, Niigata (140 km northeast) and Sado Island. Inn owners have said that rumors have been more damaging than direct effects of the earthquake. [Yomiuri. [http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070726TDY02006.htm Tourism in Niigata on ropes / N-plant leaks keep droves of visitors away in summer season] . July 25.]


By Japanese law (and other countries have similar reporting), utilities operating nuclear plants must report certain kinds of events (power excursions, high dose to a worker, or accidents) to the NISA and METI. Some of the events listed below didn't necessarily fit this category but Tepco decided to officially report them anyway.
*In May 2000, Unit 6 had to be shut down as a precautionary measure when increased concentrations of Iodine were detected in the coolant loop.
*On June 12, 2004, the vacuum in the condenser in Unit 1 began to decrease. The operators did a power reduction, and the condenser pressure stabilized so the unit was ran at the lower power of 800 MW for some time.
*On February 4, 2005 Unit 1 was manually shut down due to leakage of steam in the lower floor of the turbine room.
*On July 3, 2005, the Unit 5 reactor tripped by a turbine trip caused by a decreased vacuum in the condenser (turbine trip occurs to protect the turbine).
*On May 26, 2006, Tepco and the Chūbu Electric Power Company submitted a report about cracking in the hafnium control blades.
*On July 12, 2006, it was discovered that a worker was exposed to radiation above the 0.8 millisievert legal limit in one day, receiving 1.03 millisieverts.
*On July 16, 2007, the 2007 Chūetsu offshore earthquake caused severe damage to parts of the plant, resulting in minuscule radioactive releases, and complete shutdown. Operation has not been restored (see previous section).
*On September 20, 2007, a fire (due to a fault in a temporary air conditioner on the roof of the plant) broke out, but workers put out the flames and there was no danger of a radioactive leak. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7003975.stm BBC NEWS, Fire at Japan's quake-hit plant] ] [ [http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/07110102-e.html The Possible Cause of and Measures against the Fire on the Roof] ]
*In February 2008, the Citizens' Nuclear Information Center anti-nuclear group called for the closure of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant. [http://cnic.jp/english/topics/safety/earthquake/kkscientist24feb08.html Close Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant] ]
*On May 22, 2008, TEPCO announced that earthquake resistance standards needed to be increased by a factor of five and work to reinforce the reactors would begin in June. The Niigata prefectural government has not indicated if it would approve resumption of operations, even with the reinforcement. [ [http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200805220330.html TEPCO calls for better safety] ]

1,000,000 Volt Electric Line

There had been plans to supply some areas by means of a 1,000,000 V power line, however, objections from the local community due to concerns of electromagnetic waves stopped the plan. This would have been Japan's first electric line of that scale.

ee also

*Katsuhiko Ishibashi
*Pacific Ring of Fire


External links

;Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake related
* [http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/index.html Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake inpacts] — Japan Atomic Industrial Forum
* [http://www.gengikyo.jp/english/shokai/special_3.htm Earthquake impacts] — Japan Nuclear Technology Institute
* [http://www.nsc.go.jp/english/20070730.pdf View on earthquake events] — Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission
** [http://www.nsc.go.jp/english/20070719.pdf Chairman's statement]
* [http://cnic.jp/english/newsletter/nit119/nit119articles/kkearthquake.html Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Earthquake] — Japan's Citizens' Nuclear Information Center Report
* [http://www.greenpeace.org/international/news/Kashiwazaki_greenpeace Kashiwazaki nuclear plant — report from the scene] — Greenpeace
* [http://technology.newscientist.com/channel/tech/nuclear/mg19526144.500 Insight: Where not to build nuclear power stations] — "New Scientist"
* [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/07/25/world/asia/25japan.html Japan’s Quake-Prone Atomic Plant Prompts Wider Worry] — "The New York Times"
* [http://uk.reuters.com/article/oilRpt/idUKTKF00325520080728 TEPCO:Don't expect quake-hit plant to restart '08/09] — "Reuters" ;Entire plant related
* [http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/kk-np/index-j.html Tokyo Electric Company Official Site for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 東京電力・柏崎刈羽原子力発電所] (Japanese)
* [http://www.tepco.co.jp/kk-np/monitoring/den-j.html Power plant on-line monitor] This shows output power, click on icons at top left to see three different radiation monitors. (Japanese)
* [http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/challenge/energy/nuclear/plants-e.html Nuclear TEPCO-Power Plants] (English)
* [http://www2.jnes.go.jp/atom-db/en/trouble/individ/power/h/index.html List of events at the plant] (English)

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