Japan

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The five commissioners heading Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) unanimously agreed last week to formulate new severe accident regulations for nuclear energy facilities, in line with the country’s atomic energy law that parliament amended in June. Accident scenarios to be covered will include terrorist actions as well as earthquakes and tsunamis. The NRA said draft regulations will be available for public comment March 2013 and are to be finalized by July. Two sets of final regulations are to be drawn up, to include plant system design considerations and severe accident management procedures.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The post-Fukushima response steering committees of the nuclear energy industry and Nuclear Regulatory Commission reviewed accomplishments and work in progress during a joint meeting last week. Nuclear energy industry representatives highlighted completion of inspections for potential flooding and seismic activity, validation of procedures and equipment readiness for loss of off-site electrical power, purchase of additional portable safety equipment, and selection of a vendor for a regional response center. Work in progress includes establishing guidance and conducting further inspections for flooding and seismic assessments and integrating emergency operating procedures and severe accident management guidelines.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • A new study by the Electric Power Research Institute that examines options for minimizing the release of radioactive materials in a severe nuclear accident says that a combination of strategies would be much more effective than depending on any single measure. In particular, EPRI says that combining containment sprays or immersion of damaged fuel with a specifically designed vent that can reliably open and close at appropriate times would provide a more than 1,000-fold reduction in the amount of fission products released. Adding low-efficiency filters to vents can further reduce the release of fission product particles, although the report recommends further research to evaluate the efficacy of filter designs. EPRI acknowledges that “the best way to avoid radiological release and potential land contamination is to prevent an accident from occurring by improving and augmenting the strategies for preventing core damage,” a strategy in line with the industry’s “FLEX” approach.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The Japanese cabinet has endorsed a government policy panel’s strategy to gradually reduce nuclear as part of the country’s energy mix, while dropping a proposal to end the use of nuclear energy “in the 2030s.” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said days after the strategy was unveiled that “flexibility” in implementing the plan was important in the face of “a variety of uncertainties” and that review and discussion will continue. The strategy—without a hard timeline for a complete nuclear phase-out—calls for idled reactors to restart only after approvals from the new Nuclear Regulation Authority and for an operating lifetime of 40 years, instead of 50 to 60 years. Reprocessing and recycling of used nuclear fuel will continue.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The Japanese government’s Energy and Environment Council last week proposed a goal of phasing out nuclear energy “in the 2030s.” The new policy follows recent public surveys that indicate support for ending the country’s reliance on nuclear energy. The panel said the 48 currently idled reactors will be allowed to restart by the new regulatory body that is being put in place this week. Reactors will be kept to a 40-year operating period, with the possibility of a 20-year license extension. Completion of the three reactors under construction at the time of the Fukushima accident will be allowed. The official policy for reprocessing used nuclear fuel will continue as will the search for a host site for a used fuel repository. The policy will be submitted to other cabinet ministers for approval and a roadmap for the phase-out will be published later this year. Anticipating increases in fossil fuel usage, the policy also drastically slashes national carbon emission reduction goals.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First