- New safety regulations proposed for Japan’s nuclear reactors would limit the operation of the plants to 40 years, Japan’s nuclear minister, Goshi Hosono, said. The government also is revising seismic and tsunami safety standards for facilities and emergency preparedness directives for local communities. The government will submit the proposed legislation to Parliament later this month.
- Eight municipalities in Futaba County, near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, have asked the Fukushima prefectural governor for help negotiating with the Japanese central government on its plan to temporarily store contaminated soil in the communities. At least one of the towns within the evacuation zone near the plant is opposing the plan over concerns that the return of evacuees would be further delayed. The governor said he will create a forum for talks.
- The Japanese government plans to install a large-scale undersea tsunami monitoring system to improve its early warning capability. Beginning next year, the education and science ministry will place seismometers and pressure-sensing tsunami detectors at 150 locations on the seabed near the epicenter of the March earthquake. The present system uses underwater global positioning system monitors.
- Duke Energy’s seismic qualification expert John Richards explains on NEI’s Safety First website the various activities conducted by the nuclear energy industry after the March 11 Japan earthquake to confirm the ability of U.S. nuclear plants to withstand earthquakes and other extreme natural events.
- A new interactive graphic, also on NEI’s Safety First website, shows how U.S. plants weathered tornadoes, flooding, an earthquake and a hurricane in 2011.
- Articles in Japan’s Daily Yomiuri (“N-zones may keep 25,000 from home” and “2 towns at risk of disappearing”) outline some of the challenges Japan will face in returning evacuees to their homes in the coming years.
- Editorials in Mainichi Daily News and Yomiuri Shimbun consider the difficulties for Japanese energy policy if the government decides to institute a limit on the operation of nuclear facilities and rely less on nuclear energy. The government is proposing a revised national energy policy by the summer.
- Energy Biz reviews the political debate now under way in election-year France on the future of nuclear energy. Meanwhile, the Moscow Times quotes Kurchatov Institute Director Nikolai Kukharkin as saying, “The Fukushima events prompted us to examine our nuclear power plants more thoroughly, but there is no question of Russia abandoning nuclear power.”
- NEI and NRC post-Fukushima steering committees will hold a public meeting at NRC headquarters Jan. 13 to continue discussions on implementing the NRC’s near-term task force recommendations.