November 2011

NEI’s Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Tony Pietrangelo comments on the publication of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ (INPO) official timeline of Fukushima events after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

See also NEI’s news release and the Fukushima timeline report.

Onagawa Nuclear Power Station

Onagawa Nuclear Power Station

For much of the last eight months, the world has been riveted by the valiant efforts of Tokyo Electric Power Co. employees to save the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. But what most people don’t realize is that the nearby Onagawa nuclear energy facility, located 120 kilometers northwest of Fukushima Daiichi in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, successfully weathered the massive tsunami and earthquake that crippled the other plant.

The Onagawa plant, whose three reactors can generate more than 2,000 megawatts-electric, enough to power 800,000 homes, is an example of a nuclear energy facility that was prepared for nature’s worst.

As a Reuters article recently noted, not only did the plant withstand the impact of the tsunami’s 13 meter (40 foot) waves and achieve a cold shutdown within 11 hours, it also provided a vital lifeline to the surrounding community, offering shelter for hundreds of tsunami victims who sought refuge at the plant for three months.
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Plant Status

  • Sustained nuclear fission did not occur at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility last week, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said, confirming earlier reports from Tokyo Electric Power Co. Plant employees detected a trace amount of radioactive xenon-135 gas in the reactor 2 containment vessel last week, which led to initial concerns there might have been an ongoing nuclear reaction in the vessel. After investigation, TEPCO said the xenon was produced through spontaneous fission, a form of radioactive decay. NISA said the density of the xenon did not change when a boric acid solution was injected into the reactor, demonstrating that criticality was not occurring.
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Plant Status

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported Sunday that it has begun removing radioactive cesium from the used fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2. TEPCO said this is a preparatory step to desalinating the pool water to avert corrosion of metallic components. After the March 11 accident, TEPCO used seawater to cool the fuel in the reactors and the pools. The company has been purifying and recycling water since July to cool the reactors, but it has now begun to purify the water in the used fuel pools. TEPCO reported that it has already begun desalinating reactor 4’s pool.
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Bonnie Bryant in Control Room Simulator

Bonnie Bryant, Senior Reactor Operator, NextEra's Seabrook Station

For Bonnie Bryant, nuclear power is a family affair. Both she and her husband have worked at the Seabrook Station (Seabrook, N.H.) since the early 1990s, and both have a senior reactor operator’s license. Bryant calls herself a “nontraditional operator,” since she started her nuclear energy industry career as a chemist at Seabrook.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First