- Japan’s nuclear utilities and vendors have created a new group called the Japan Nuclear Safety Institute (JANSI), which the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan said is modeled on the U.S. Institute of Nuclear Power Operations and the World Association of Nuclear Operators. Makoto Yagi, FEPC’s chairman and president of Kansai Electric Power Co., said last week JANSI was created to further improve nuclear power plant safety and to “ensure the completeness of severe accident management measures based on lessons learned from the Fukushima accident.” Yagi said that JANSI, like INPO, will give utility executives advice and recommendations on operations. The agency will seek guidance and peer review from both INPO and WANO. JANSI’s membership will comprise 123 companies, Yagi added.
- Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is scheduled to dispatch a five-member team to Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga plant early December to investigate whether seismic faults at the site are likely to cause an earthquake. JAPC is scheduled to submit the results of its investigations of the Tsuruga site to NRA by the end of the month. A separate team failed to reach a definitive conclusion following a similar investigation at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi site.
- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has outlined several options it is considering for creating a more integrated regulatory framework, as recommended by the agency’s post-Fukushima task force. The options include clarifying the role of voluntary industry initiatives, creating a decision process for determining appropriate safety margins, and adding a new regulatory category to address beyond-design-basis issues. NRC staff is to meet with the agency’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards in December and January before finalizing its report for the commissioners in mid-February. The industry is developing its own proposal to provide to the commission.
- Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to cover the building of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor 3 with a steel-frame structure that will allow removal of used fuel from the unit’s storage pool. Unlike the covers for reactors 1 and 4, this one will feature a curved section housing the fuel transfer machine and crane. Construction is to begin by March 2015, after debris is removed from the top floor of the reactor building. TEPCO said the cover will be designed and built by Toshiba Corp. and Kajima Corp. An artist’s rendering of the cover, credited to TEPCO, is available in an Asahi Shimbun article.
- The media, including Reuters and USA Today, widely reported the dissolution of Japan’s parliament last week by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. A general election, to be held Dec. 16, is likely to return to power a coalition led by the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, which is more pro-nuclear than Noda’s Democratic Party of Japan. The LDP has promised an extended review of Noda’s stated policy to phase out nuclear energy by 2040.
- Jiji Press reports that Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority plans to conduct surveys of fault lines under several nuclear energy facilities in the near future, starting early December with Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga plant in Fukui prefecture. Other facilities to be investigated include Higashidori, Mihama, Shika and Monju.
- An article in Nature says Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority still has work to do in rebuilding public trust and confidence among the Japanese public after the Fukushima accident.
- The Nuclear Energy Institute will hold its Fukushima Regulatory Response Workshop in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 3-4. The workshop will focus on implementation of the industry’s FLEX strategy.