- Japanese Industry Minister Yukio Edano has told the governor of Fukui Prefecture that the government has decided it is safe to restart two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi nuclear power plant. Edano said he hoped the governor and local communities would support restarting the reactors, which help power Osaka and the heavily populated Kansai region. The prime minister and three cabinet ministers concluded last week that the plants met safety tests and approved the Ohi operator’s plans to enhance safety equipment at the plant. The government estimates an 18 percent electricity shortfall this summer in the areas served by Kansai Electric if the Ohi reactors remain shut down.
- Japanese municipalities that host nuclear energy facilities are urging the government to expedite launching the new independent nuclear regulatory organization. An association of the municipalities said the new regulator would bolster public confidence in the safety of restarting reactors that have been shut down for maintenance.
- A new analysis of the technical causes of the Fukushima Daiichi accident published last week by the Electric Power Research Institute found that inadequate forecasting of the maximum possible tsunami height led to the March 11, 2001, accident. The plant was designed to withstand a 6.1-meter tsunami, but the tidal wave was 15 meters high. The report said the tsunami inundated all power sources and electrical distribution systems, leading to the eventual loss of plant cooling, damage to the reactor cores and release of radioactive materials. The report said the plant’s design failed to account for the possibility of tsunamis created by “multiple geological fault ruptures.”
- Several online articles comment on the potential consequences for Japan’s economy of the continued shutdown of the country’s nuclear energy facilities, which prior to last year’s accident provided 30 percent of the nation’s electricity. Oilprice.com reports that large manufacturing companies such as Komatsu are considering moving factories overseas if electricity supplies are not assured. Other articles point out how the increases in imports of coal (Washington Times), natural gas and oil (Bloomberg) could leave Japan vulnerable to “an ominous cycle in which energy costs rise and business conditions erode” (Washington Post).
- Nikkei.com reports that the increases in Japanese fossil fuel imports may force the government to revise its greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.
- NEI’s Safety First website highlights the work of Duke Energy Communications Manager Valerie Patterson at the McGuire nuclear station in Mecklenburg, N.C.
- The NRC will hold a public meeting April 17 to discuss implementation of flooding protections and based on lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
- Industry representatives and NRC staff will meet April 24 to discuss development of interim guidance on mitigation strategies for events that exceed a facility’s design limits. Discussion will include the industry’s flexible and diverse (FLEX) approach.
- The industry and NRC will meet April 25 to discuss the advance notice of proposed rulemaking on station blackout conditions.