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Japan Government Eyes Summer Electricity Rationing Plan

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The Japanese government and four regional power companies will announce electricity rationing contingency plans by mid-June. With all of Japan’s nuclear reactors offline, the government is predicting power shortages in the western and northern areas of the country. Blackouts are expected to be limited to a few hours per day in each area, and essential services such as railways, hospitals and fire departments will be exempt. Japan posted a record $6.5 billion trade deficit in April. It was the second straight month that the country’s imports exceeded its exports, mostly due to the need for liquefied natural gas and crude oil for thermal power plants.

  • Naoto Kan, Japan’s prime minister during the Fukushima accident, told a parliamentary investigation panel yesterday that the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident together overwhelmed the government’s crisis management system. He pointed to several missteps in communication among government agencies and with the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which he said led to his personal intervention in managing the accident. Kan has recommended that Japan reduce its dependence on nuclear energy.
  • NEI has transmitted for NRC review and endorsement its final draft industry guidance on seismic walkdowns based on the agency’s Fukushima task force recommendations. The NRC is expected shortly to issue for public comment its draft interim staff guidance documents for the task force’s top-priority recommendations. The documents are based on industry and stakeholder input and reviews by the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards.

Media Highlights

  • ABC News coverage of a report that radioactive cesium was found in Pacific bluefin tuna caught off California noted the amounts were “about 30 times less than the amount of radiation given off by other common, naturally occurring elements in the tuna we eat.” Timothy Jorgensen, associate professor of radiation medicine at Georgetown University, said, “The finding should be reassuring to the public. As anticipated, the tuna contained only trace levels of radioactivity that originated from Japan. There is no human health threat posed by consuming migratory tuna caught off the west coast of the United States.”
  • Reuters reports that the Japanese government could settle on an energy policy that would halve nuclear’s share of the country’s electricity to 15 percent by 2030.

New Products

  • NEI’s Safety First website has posted two stories from last week’s Nuclear Energy Overview on the industry’s Fukushima-related activities—one on NEI’s draft guidance for its FLEX strategy and the other on industry discussions with the NRC on its lower-priority post-Fukushima activities.
  • Another article on the Safety First website describes how Chuck Sizemore, NextEra Energy’s fleet operations training manager, oversees the training of reactor operators at the company’s five nuclear energy facilities.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold public meetings to discuss development of guidance to implement flooding walkdowns (May 29) and mitigation strategies for beyond-design basis external events (May 30), based on recommendations of the NRC’s Fukushima task force.

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