- A Japanese panel of independent experts this month will begin an in-depth investigation of the causes of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The body held its first meeting in December and will establish four working teams. The panel is to begin its work by studying the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s interim investigation, which was released Dec. 26. The panel’s report, to be issued by the summer, is expected to propose changes to Japan’s administrative and nuclear policy.
- The Japanese government has requested permission to store contaminated soil temporarily in eight municipalities around Fukushima Daiichi. Environment Minister Goshi Hosono last week told Fukushima governor Yuhei Sato and the mayors of eight districts in Futaba County that the central government wants to buy or borrow land to build temporary storage sites in the county. The governor said he would decide whether to allow the plan after he had heard from the municipalities. Sato also has requested that all nuclear facilities in Fukushima prefecture be decommissioned.
- Tokyo Electric Power Co. is to use an industrial endoscope to look inside the containment vessel of Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2 for the first time since the 2011 earthquake. The utility says the 33-foot long, 1/3-inch wide device will be deployed this month to measure temperatures and other parameters inside the reactor, including the condition of the pressure vessels and melted fuel.
- An opinion piece by Llewellyn King commends the safety features of U.S. nuclear energy facilities. King wrote: “Fukushima, a once-in-history accident, was a victory of design and construction for its time. Even the radiation releases are now found to be lower than expected.”
- An article in Mainichi Daily News reports on radioactive decontamination plans to be implemented by Japan’s central government in localities near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Under a new law, plans will be formulated by 102 municipalities in eight prefectures where radiation levels are expected to exceed 100 millirem a year apart from natural background and medical sources.