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Japan Announces ‘Grand Plan’ to Rebuild Some Evacuated Areas

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The Japanese government has announced a plan to rebuild some areas in the Fukushima Daiichi evacuation zone, enabling residents in those areas to return in two years once power, water and sewage services are restored. Returning residents will be offered work in decontaminating the area and decommissioning the damaged plant. The ten-year “grand plan,” unveiled last week by the reconstruction minister, also calls for restoring the area’s transportation infrastructure within five years and attracting young people by developing new industrial, research and educational infrastructure, including renewable energy.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. says former U.S. NRC Chairman Dale Klein will be part of an independent panel of experts the utility is establishing to oversee its efforts to improve nuclear safety and transparency before it restarts some of its idled nuclear reactors. The move is a response to criticism of TEPCO’s handling of the Fukushima Daiichi accident by government and cabinet investigation committees. Among the facilities TEPCO intends to restart is the seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa facility—the world’s largest—which was undamaged after last year’s earthquake.
  • Kansai Electric Power Co. and Japan Atomic Energy Agency are the latest utilities to file plans with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency to investigate whether “crush zones” in the vicinity of the Mihama and Monju nuclear plants are evidence of active faults or past severe earthquakes. NISA said recently that operators are conducting similar investigations at four facilities, and the regulator is reviewing findings from four others. The agency also said that nine other plants showed they do not have active faults.

Media Highlights

  • The Japan Times reports that the chairmen of three independent panels that investigated the causes of the Fukushima accident earlier this year—established by the Japanese parliament, the cabinet, and a private-sector organization—agree that Japan’s rigid institutional culture that discourages initiative and a questioning attitude was a major factor in the accident’s progression.
  • The Japanese government estimates that Japan would need to invest $637 billion in renewable energy if it decided to phase out nuclear energy and that consumers could expect their monthly energy bills to double, says an article in Asianpower.com.
  • Jiji Press said that Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency pledged at last week’s IAEA international experts meeting to share its lessons learned from Fukushima with other nations’ safety organizations and regulators. A major outcome of the meeting, the IAEA said, is that integrated approaches are needed to protect nuclear facilities against external hazards. The government’s presentation of the status of Fukushima recovery efforts, provided at the previous week’s Convention on Nuclear Safety in Vienna, was made available by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The NRC will hold a commission briefing on Sept. 11 to present a staff paper on the economic consequences of severe reactor accidents. The meeting will be webcast.
  • The Senate Energy and Public Works Committee will hold an oversight hearing on Sept. 12 on the NRC’s implementation of recommendations for enhancing nuclear reactor safety in light of the Fukushima accident. All five NRC commissioners are expected to provide testimony.

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