- Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has partially restored a cooling water recycling system at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Of the 16 tons of water injected per hour to cool reactors 1, 2 and 3, 13 tons are decontaminated water that has been processed through this system. In its first two weeks of operation, the water treatment system has processed about 1,850 tons of radioactive water that had accumulated at the plant. TEPCO suspended operations a number of times during test runs because of problems with a device that removes radioactive substances and subsequently switched to a different material that absorbs radiation. Goshi Hosono, an adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Kan, said that although the cooling system has not been fully restored from a pump failure last Saturday, the start of recycling cooling water is an important step toward stabilizing the reactors.
- Workers have begun injecting boric acid solution into the used fuel pool at reactor 3 to counter the potential corrosive effects of chemicals leaching from debris in the pool.
- Japanese officials have begun conducting health checks for people who may have been exposed to relatively high radiation levels as a result of the accident at the Fukushima facility. Ten people were given checkups at a facility near Tokyo. The government plans to test more than 2 million residents of Fukushima Prefecture, focusing initially on 28,000 residents of communities near the plant. Full health checkups for residents of the prefecture will start in August.
- A Japanese government panel studying measures to counter earthquakes and tsunamis is calling for major changes in the nation’s disaster prevention policy. In an interim report, the panel criticized the government for not considering four previous major earthquakes, including the Jogan earthquake in 869, which triggered a large tsunami that swept the Sendai area. The panel’s final report is expected this fall.
- The companies that operate U.S. nuclear energy facilities will respond to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by July 11 on the second portion of a bulletin issued in May dealing with strategies for handling extreme events. The responses will address:
- how essential resources are maintained, tested and controlled to ensure availability
- how strategies are re-evaluated if plant conditions or configurations change
- how arrangements are reached and maintained with local emergency response organizations.
- Regulator questions TEPCO’s actions prior to hydrogen explosion (06/26) Tokyo Electric Power failed to notify Japanese authorities about the possibility of a hydrogen explosion at reactor 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant even though the company knew it could occur, according to reports submitted to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. “If we had understood the situation in the No. 3 reactor building before the explosion, we would have notified the public. We will look at TEPCO’s failure to report the facts to NISA in the course of the full investigation into the explosion,” said NISA spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama. Asahi Shimbun (Japan)
- NRC chairman tours Nebraska plants, comments on safety from flooding (6/27) NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko has been in Nebraska touring nuclear energy facilities that face rising flood waters. After touring the Cooper plant yesterday, Jaczko said the plant is safe. “I got to see a lot of efforts they’re taking to deal with flooding and the challenges that presents. … This is a plant that is operating safely and meeting our standards,” he said. Cooper declared an unusual event on June 19 when the Missouri River rose to more than 899 feet above sea level. The flood waters began receding Sunday. Jaczko’s schedule took him to the Fort Calhoun plant today, which also has taken significant steps to maintain safety despite record-high floods. The New York Times
- NRC executive doesn’t believe immediate post-Fukushima reforms are needed (06/23) There is no need for immediate safety reforms at U.S. nuclear plants in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi crisis in Japan, said Martin Virgilio, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s deputy executive director for reactor and preparedness programs. “We continue to have confidence in the safety of the U.S. fleet without question,” Virgilio said. “We recognize that at some point in time new requirements will likely be imposed as part of this,” Virgilio added, but the agency will continue licensing procedures for new reactor projects. Bloomberg
- Survey finds eight of 10 residents near U.S. nuclear power plants favor nuclear energy (6/27) Eighty percent of residents living near nuclear energy facilities favor the use of nuclear energy as one way to provide electricity in the United States. Half of them “strongly favored” the use of nuclear energy, compared to 11 percent who were “strongly opposed.” Americans believe that companies that operate nuclear energy facilities are taking appropriate safety measures and are prepared for the most severe events that could impact U.S. reactors. The nationwide survey of adults who live within 10 miles of U.S. nuclear energy facilities was conducted June 11-18 by Bisconti Research Inc. and Quest Global Research Group. NEI news release
- NEI has launched a new website on the status of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan and the U.S. nuclear industry’s response to the accident. The site also provides information about safety and preparedness at U.S. nuclear energy facilities and information on how the industry protects public health. Also included is an “Ask an Expert” section, where the public can submit questions about nuclear energy.
- The task force reviewing NRC processes and regulations in light of the accident at Fukushima is expected to release its report on July 12. The task force will brief the commissioners on the report at a public meeting on July 19. The briefing will be webcast.