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IAEA Says Nuclear Growth Slowed in 2011 But Will Revive

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Annual Report for 2011 notes that while the Fukushima Daiichi accident slowed the growth of nuclear energy, it did not reverse it. The IAEA projects at least 90 new reactors to be in operation globally by 2030, a 7 to 8 percent reduction from its pre-accident estimate. Of the 64 reactors under construction at the end of 2011, 26 are in China, 10 in Russia, six in India and five in South Korea, the report said. Asia is expected to continue as the center of new growth, with new reactor projects in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Vietnam and Bangladesh. The report is to be presented at the IAEA’s annual General Conference in Vienna next month.
  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has released a paper on the economic consequences of unintended land contamination near nuclear energy facilities. The paper addresses to what extent, if any, the agency’s regulatory framework should be modified to consider land contamination. The staff says that while “the NRC’s regulatory framework for considering offsite property damage is sound,” it has identified possible “improvements to the implementation guidance for cost-benefit analysis.” The agency has scheduled a public meeting this week to discuss the paper and a commission briefing on Sept. 11.
  • Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met last week with leaders of anti-nuclear protests. He said he would continue to listen to their concerns about the safety of Japanese nuclear energy facilities, but he rejected their demand to shut down the two reactors that restarted in July and keep the others shut down. Noda said the government would decide on an energy mix for the country that is “safe and reliable.” He has stated previously that restarting Japan’s nuclear plants is vital for the economy.

Media Highlights

  • Kyodo News reported that Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has ordered Kansai Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Energy Agency to conduct additional checks for seismic fault lines under the Mihama nuclear energy facility and the Monju fast-breeder reactor in western Japan.
  • The Asahi Shimbun says the science ministry’s new survey of plutonium contamination around Fukushima Daiichi shows no further contamination since the first survey taken in September 2011. The article added that the maximum concentration of plutonium-238 found was one-fourth the maximum recorded in Japan in 1978, a result of fallout from U.S. and Soviet atmospheric nuclear weapons tests.
  • An editorial in the Yomiuri Shimbun cautions Japan’s government against deciding the nation’s energy future on the basis of opinion polls—a recent survey suggests that 47 percent of the Japanese public is in favor of phasing out nuclear energy. The editorial points out that since Japan has few natural resources, a “realistic energy policy” that takes economic efficiency and the stability of energy supply into account must include the continued use of nuclear energy.

Upcoming Meetings

  • NEI Executive Director and Fukushima Response Steering Committee Chairman Jim Scarola and INPO Senior Vice President Bill Webster will represent the U.S. industry at an extraordinary meeting of the Convention of Nuclear Safety at the IAEA in Vienna to be held Aug. 27-31.
  • The National Academy of Sciences will hold its second meeting on lessons learned from Fukushima on Sept. 6-7 in Washington, D.C. The meeting will be webcast.
  • The NRC will hold a public meeting on Sept. 11 to present a staff paper on the economic consequences of land contamination from severe reactor accidents. The meeting will be webcast.

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