Crane Collapse at Nuclear Power Plant Adds to Safety Concerns

A crane boom collapsed under heavy winds at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Japan, landing on the Unit 2 reactor building and fuel handling building at around 9:50 p.m. local time on January 20.

Plant operator, Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO), reported that no injuries and no adverse environmental effects resulted from the accident.

The Takahama facility, located in Fukui Prefecture, has four reactors, all of which were offline at the time of the incident. Units 1 and 2 were commissioned in 1974 and 1975, respectively, while Units 3 and 4 entered service in 1985.

KEPCO has called the Takahama plant “important” for its business and was able to get regulatory approval of 20-year license extensions for Units 1 and 2 in June. However, the company has faced opposition in its effort to restart the facility.

Units 3 and 4 were returned to service early last year, but operations were halted less than two months later when the Otsu District Court issued an injunction against both reactors, saying the safety of the units could not be guaranteed. The crane collapse will do nothing to help ease public concerns about the nuclear plant.

The crane, reported to be 112 meters tall, was one of four on-site to facilitate shielding installation on the Unit 2 containment dome. A storm warning had been issued and strong winds were blowing, so no work was in progress at the time of the collapse.

Although the roof of the reactor auxiliary building and fuel handling building were partially deformed and severe damage was sustained to the crane boom, nothing fell from the ceiling of the fuel handling building and there was no effect on the spent fuel pits, according to KEPCO. Monitoring posts in and around the power plant reportedly showed no significant reading changes.

Aaron Larson, executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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