- Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said Monday that its survey of a second fault zone directly beneath one of two reactors at the Tsuruga nuclear energy facility in Fukui prefecture found it likely to be seismically active. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said that, given the results, “there is no way we can carry out safety assessments for a restart.” The NRA team said reactor 2 may have to be decommissioned by the plant operator, although the agency only has the authority to bar the plant from restarting.
- A magnitude 7.3 earthquake occurred Friday off the coast of northeastern Japan, in almost the same area that was hit by a magnitude 9 quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Small tsunami waves were recorded at three locations, reaching a maximum height of about three feet. Japan’s nuclear regulator confirmed there was no damage to nuclear energy facilities in the area, including Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini, Tohoku Electric Power’s Higashidori and Onagawa plants, Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai Daini, and the fuel cycle complex in Aomori prefecture.
- A preliminary assessment of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) that there are no observable health effects from the Fukushima accident is expected to be endorsed by the UN. The report was approved by the UN General Assembly in September.
- Japan’s Environment Ministry reported the country’s carbon emissions rose by 3.9 percent in the year following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, during which all but two of the country’s 50 reactors were shut down, said a Bloomberg article. Japan had committed to reducing its emissions by 6 percent from 1990 levels in the period from 1998 to 2012 and actually achieved a reduction of 9.2 percent by 2011, the report said.
- The Japan Times reports that the Nuclear Regulation Authority could begin preliminary safety checks of idled nuclear reactors by the spring, using a draft of new safety standards that are expected to be finalized by July. The inspections could pave the way for some reactors to restart by the summer.
- Kyodo News notes that the NRA has decided to appoint three prominent international nuclear experts as external advisers—former NRC Chairman Richard Meserve; Andre-Claude Lacoste, former chairman of France’s nuclear safety authority; and Mike Weightman, the head of Britain’s nuclear regulation office.
- The Japanese government and the International Atomic Energy Agency will hold a ministerial conference on nuclear safety in Fukushima prefecture Dec. 15-17. The meeting’s main objective is “to contribute to strengthening nuclear safety worldwide.”