- Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility achieved a major milestone this week as recirculating cooling was restored to the used fuel storage pools at the last of the four damaged reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) activated the cooling system at the reactor 1 pool on Wednesday, marking the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that the pools at all four reactors have used recirculating cooling rather than water injection. Cooling systems for the pools were restored at reactor 2 on May 31; reactor 3, June 30; and reactor 4, July 31. The cooling systems for the pools at reactors 5 and 6 and the common pool were not damaged. TEPCO released an update to its roadmap to restoration of the facility on Aug. 10.
- TEPCO plans to train approximately 4,000 workers in radiation safety by the end of the year. So far, about 1,900 workers have completed the training. These radiation safety specialists will control exposure to workers at the Fukushima Daiichi facility and measure radiation levels in the 20-kilometer no-entry zone to determine whether it is safe for evacuees to return. The Japanese government said it will consider lifting evacuation orders for zones deemed to be safe.
- Japan and Vietnam have agreed that Japan will continue to support nuclear energy expansion in Vietnam by building two reactors in the country. The two nations agreed last October that Japan would build two reactors by 2021. Vietnam plans to build 14 reactors by 2030 to meet the nation’s growing demand for electricity. Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai said he trusts Japan’s technology and wants Japan to keep providing help. Although Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called for Japan to reduce its dependence on nuclear energy, the government has said it will honor contracts already in place or under negotiation.
- Japanese National Policy Minister Koichiro Gemba told The Wall Street Journal he believes the nation should consider building small reactors as part of its energy mix. Prior to the accident at Fukushima, the nation’s energy strategy called for nearly doubling generation from nuclear energy to 50 percent by 2030. The government has put those plans aside and is crafting a new energy policy. In his interview with the Journal, Gemba said the future contribution of nuclear energy in Japan is likely to be below the 26 percent level reached in 2007. See the full article (WSJ subscribers only), “Japan Considers Turning to Micro Nuclear Plants.”