In the still growing wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, the Japanese nuclear industry has preliminarily announced they will permanently close five more atomic power plants. Now nearly four years after the multi-unit accident, Japan has maintained “zero nuclear” power generation. This most recent decommissioning announcement reduces the number of the country’s operable ---but still not operating---reactors down to 43. All six units at Fukushima Daiichi have been permanently closed including Units 1 through 4 destroyed in the accident as well as the undamaged Unit 5 and Unit 6 (a GE Mark II). The Abe government is struggling to restart some number of the nation’s atomic reactors amidst broad anti-nuclear public and political opposition.
Two of the newly announced closures are Shimane Unit 1 and Tsuruga Unit 1, both GE Mark I boiling water reactors identical to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-5. The other three units, Genkai Unit 1 and Mihama 1 and 2 units, are aging pressurized water reactors. Company officials with Kyushu Electric, Kansai Electric, Chugoku Electric and Japan Atomic Power Company decided to decommission the units rather than comply with now required expensive safety upgrades. The formal decisions are expected to be made in March 2015.
With the recent closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant here in the U.S., Beyond Nuclear continues to campaign for the prompt and permanent closure of the world’s remaining thirty operable GE Mark I and sixteen Mark II reactors. Twenty-two GE Mark I and eight Mark II units are still operating in the United States. The remainder of the Mark I units are in Taiwan (2), India (2), Switzerland (1), Spain (1) and Japan (2). An additional two Mark II units are operating in Mexico and six “operable” but shutdown units in Japan.