Japan: Malfunction of radiation monitoring system

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The following is reported on http://www.msnbc.com/news/348711.asp?cp1=1 TOKYO, Jan. 1, 2 a.m. -- The radiation monitoring system for the Shiga nuclear power plant in Ishikawa malfunctioned after midnight. Radiation levels were normal, and the cause was being investigated. The monitor displays data on radiation emitted to the environment.

-- J. Verplancken (verplanc@boursorama.com), December 31, 1999


News from Reuters

TOKYO, Jan 1 (Reuters) - The radiation monitoring system for the Shiga nuclear power plant run by Hokuriku Electric Power Co
in Ishikawa Prefecture, about 300 km (186 miles) northwest of Tokyo, malfunctioned after the start of the new year, a prefecture official said.

The official said the malfunction prevented the monitor from displaying data on radiation emitted to the environment.

But checks by prefectural officials of five on-site monitoring posts found that radiation levels were normal, the official added.

The cause of the problem, including the possibility that it was a Y2K-related glitch, was being investigated and it had yet to be fixed, the official said.

Japan has 51 nuclear reactors providing roughly one-third of the nation's electricity needs.

-- Brian (imager@home.com), December 31, 1999.


http://sg.dailynews.yahoo.com/headlines/asia/article.html?s=singapore/ headlines/000101/asia/afp/Minor_faults_strike_two_Japanese_nuclear_pla nts_at_dawn_of_2000.html

TOKYO, Jan 1 (AFP) - Minor faults struck two nuclear power plants in Japan seconds after the clock ticked into 2000 on Saturday but no danger was reported, officials said.

Government and company officials launched investigations into whether the glitches were related to the millennium bug, which caused few other problems in Japan.

If a connection is proved, they would be the first cases of the millennium bug striking nuclear plants.

A system to monitor radiation levels malfunctioned at a nuclear plant in Ishikawa, central Japan, immediately after the turn of the year, officials said.

"Two of the five monitoring computers have stopped displaying data," said Takashi Minami, a local government official at Ishikawa prefecture which operates the detection system.

"There is a possibility that this is related to the 2000 computer problem," Minami conceded, insisting however that the system worked in other ways and there was no danger.

"Our preparation might not have been good enough," he added.

And an alarm sounded for 10 minutes at another nuclear power plant in Onagawa, northern Japan, just two minutes after midnight, indicating a problem with a guage to measure sea water problems.

The alarm showed a defect with a calculator which measures the temperature of seawater before it is used as a coolant at the plant run by Tohoku Electric Power Co., a company official said.

"The alarm went off only once, and it has not resumed. This will not directly affect nuclear plant operations. We are investigating the case," Kanichiro Kobiyama, a spokesman for the plant, told AFP.

"We are not sure if it is related to the 2000 computer problem."

Takashi Ichinomiya, an official at the Ministry of International Trade and Industry working on the millennium bug, said he was investigating the incident.

But "there were no concrete problems, no danger and we have no plan to shut down the plant," he added.

Fears about nuclear power have increased in Japan since September 30 when three workers at a uranium processing plant in Tokaimura, northeast of Tokyo, set off the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

They triggered a critical reaction that exposed at least 126 people to radiation and forced more than 320,000 to shelter at home for more than a day. The worst affected worker, 35-year-old Hisashi Ouchi, died December 22.

Fifty minutes into the new millennium, Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi addressed the nation on television declaring that "fortunately, we have not heard of any situation affecting people's lives."

Two million state and corporate officials were on guard around the country against the bug and many people had followed government advice to stock up with three days' worth of food and water just in case.

"We have not monitored any major problem," said a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. Ltd.

JR East, the eastern Japan railway network with the world's heaviest passenger load, stopped trains for a few minutes over midnight but reported no problem in restarting.

A spokesman for Tokyo-Narita airport, Japan's main international gateway, also reported no trouble.

Fifty thousand people meanwhile packed the grounds of the timber Zojo Buddhist temple in central Tokyo with 3,000 people releasing transparent balloons at the stroke of midnight.

Monks in robes intoned Buddhist chants and swung a wooden beam by ropes to strike a five-meter (16-foot) high bronze bell, housed in the temple grounds. The bell was st

-- Sunfellow (nhne@nhne.com), December 31, 1999.

I haven't heard about the plant in Japan; but, I do have a concern about the Bilibinsk reactor in Russia. A Reuters report stated that this reactor was the first to endure the Y2K test and that it apparently passed. The report stated, however, that radiation levels within the plant remained within normal levels - or something to that effect, leading me to think that something happened. I may be a bit paranoid; but, the report was just vague enough to raise doubts. Anyone heard anything about it?

-- Amy (ahm@snowcap.net), January 01, 2000.

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