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Another Reactor Restarted in Japan

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Kansai Electric Power Co. last week restarted a second reactor at its Ohi nuclear energy facility in Fukui prefecture. The company said Ohi reactor 4 should reach full power this week. Reactor 3, the first in the country to restart since the Fukushima accident, attained full power operations July 9. The government said it planned to partially lift power-saving restrictions in western Japan though it still would encourage voluntary measures especially if summer temperatures are above normal.
  • The Japanese government has compiled new guidelines to speed up compensation for Fukushima residents forced to evacuate after last year’s nuclear power plant accident. The guidelines lay out how much evacuees should be paid based on how long they are expected to stay away from their homes, the value of their abandoned homes, and loss of livelihood and businesses. Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. is making the compensation payments with financial assistance from the government.

Plant Update

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. has begun examining two unused fuel assemblies it successfully removed last week from the used fuel storage pool of Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4. The company will check for possible damage to the assemblies from falling debris from the hydrogen explosions that blew off the roofs of reactors 1, 3 and 4 in the 2011 accident. It will also check for corrosion damage from the saltwater used to cool the pool in the accident’s aftermath. TEPCO intends to remove all 1,535 fuel assemblies from the pool to the facility’s common storage pool in a separate building, beginning in December 2013.

Media Highlights

  • The Japanese government’s final report on Fukushima, which is critical of TEPCO, was widely reported in the media, including by the Associated Press, Australian Broadcasting Corp. and Kyodo News. The July 23 report is expected to be the last major investigation in Japan, following studies by an independent parliamentary panel, academic experts and TEPCO itself.
  • Also widely reported is a story that a Japanese subcontractor last December asked recovery workers at the Fukushima plant to use lead covers on their dosimeters to falsify radiation dosage readings so that they could work on the site longer. Reportage included NBC News, Asahi Shimbun and Yomiuri Shimbun.

New Products

  • NEI issued a news release last week pointing out that a Stanford University used a flawed analytical method to project cancer deaths from extremely low levels of radiation from the Fukushima accident.
  • Steve Kraft, NEI’s senior director for Fukushima response coordination and strategy, said TEPCO’s successful removal of two unused fuel assemblies from Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4’s used fuel storage pool is a milestone in the company’s recovery plan. “We cannot overstate the importance of this step by TEPCO,” Kraft said.
  • NEI’s Safety First website explores how Duke Energy’s H.B. Robinson nuclear energy facility in South Carolina uses robotic technology for inspections to minimize worker radiation exposure. The facility selected two robot designs from a Massachusetts-based company that were used at the Fukushima facility.

Upcoming Meetings

  • House Energy and Commerce subcommittees on Environment and Energy will hold a joint hearing July 24 on “NRC Policy and Governance Oversight.” Issues to be examined may include the agency’s Fukushima response activities.
  • NEI and NRC steering committees will meet July 27 to discuss activities related to the industry’s response to lessons learned from Fukushima. The meeting will be webcast.

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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First