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Japan’s Regulator Examines Fissure Near Tsuruga Plant

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority last week began examining a fissure beneath Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tsuruga nuclear energy facility in Fukui prefecture to determine whether it is associated with a nearby active fault. NRA officials investigated samples of rock strata extracted in a field survey. If the agency decides that the plant is located above an active fault, the facility’s two reactors are unlikely to be allowed to resume operation. The agency is expected to finalize its assessment after a Dec. 10 meeting. Several other reactors are slated for similar investigations. A separate team last month failed to reach a definitive conclusion about Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi site, where Japan’s only two operating reactors are located.

  • The Japan Atomic Energy Commission submitted a draft proposal to the government suggesting that plans for the “semi-permanent” burial of high-level radioactive glass waste from the reprocessing of used nuclear fuel be revised to allow for retrieval of the waste if more stable disposal areas or better disposal methods are discovered in the future. The JAEC report also said the government should quantify the total amount of waste that would be generated if it limits the operating lifetimes of nuclear reactors to 40 years and bans new reactors.

Plant Update

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to speed up the removal of used nuclear fuel from the Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4 storage pool. The removal is scheduled to begin in November 2013, a month earlier than originally planned, and to be completed December 2014, one year earlier than planned. TEPCO said it will accomplish this by increasing the number of steel containers used to store the fuel after its removal from the pool.

Media Highlights

  • The Mainichi reports that Japan has not retracted its Kyoto Protocol goal to reduce carbon emissions by 25 percent of 1990 levels by 2020, even though it has not explained how it expects to meet the target with most of its nuclear capacity idled. The U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change kicked off discussions last week in Doha, Qatar, on measures to recommit developed nations to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires at the end of the year. The Yomiuri Shimbun notes that Japan’s Environment Ministry has criticized Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plans to buy electricity from coal-based “independent power producers” because of the increased carbon emissions that would result.
  • A senior official of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party said last week that Japan must quickly restart its idled nuclear reactors “once their safety has been confirmed,” an article by Bloomberg News said. The LDP is considered likely to lead a coalition back to power after December’s general election.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The Nuclear Energy Institute holds 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.
  • The Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency will hold a ministerial conference on nuclear safety in Fukushima prefecture Dec. 15-16. The meeting’s main objective is “to contribute to strengthening nuclear safety worldwide.”

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