- Tokyo Electric Power Co. has removed the primary containment vessel dome from Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4. TEPCO published photos and video clips showing the dome being lowered to the ground. The dome will be cut up and stored on site. The company also is preparing to remove the reactor pressure vessel head in October. Steve Kraft, NEI’s senior director for Fukushima response, said these actions are key steps to prepare for the installation of a structure over the building that will allow fuel to be removed from the reactor’s used fuel storage pool. Last week TEPCO also attempted to use a camera-equipped balloon probe to investigate the condition of reactor 1’s refueling floor. The initial attempt was unsuccessful, and the company said it will try again.
- TEPCO has released long-awaited footage of teleconferences the company held during the five days after last year’s earthquake and tsunami. The edited footage, which has been made partially available for reporters to view at TEPCO headquarters, shows conversations that took place among company and government officials as the accident at Fukushima Daiichi unfolded.
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in conjunction with the Energy and State departments, has released a national report on the safety of U.S. nuclear energy facilities. The report, to be presented at an extraordinary meeting of the Convention on Nuclear Safety in Vienna later this month, discusses the U.S. nuclear industry’s safety response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. It includes a section developed by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.
- The NRC has endorsed the U.S. industry’s approach for re-evaluating seismic hazards at nuclear energy facilities. The agency asked operators in March to update plant seismic risks as part of the response to Fukushima. The Electric Power Research Institute, meanwhile, has published a progress report on its Fukushima-related research, including seismic and flooding risk evaluations and assessment of strategies for mitigating radioactive releases in accidents.
- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said last week he would ask for a thorough discussion among cabinet members on the country’s future nuclear policy and would not insist on a short-term deadline to reach a decision on the level of nuclear energy the country should target as a goal. The government has proposed three options on the percentage of nuclear energy Japan should rely on by 2030—zero, 15 percent or between 20 and 25 percent. Before the Fukushima accident, about 30 percent of Japan’s electricity came from nuclear energy.
- The Associated Press reports on the initial findings of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspection of the Onagawa nuclear energy facility. The plant, which was closer to the epicenter of the March 11, 2011, earthquake than Fukushima Daiichi, was “remarkably undamaged,” said the inspectors, because it was designed with sufficient safety margins.
- The International Business Times reports that Japan’s increasing dependence on fossil fuels for electricity generation resulted in a 17 percent jump in CO2 emissions in the year ending March 31. The New York Times points out that the country’s nuclear energy industry has lost $46 billion since the Fukushima accident, and the Washington Post describes the toll that power-saving measures are taking on Japanese industry.
- NEI has made available a new fact sheet on strategies the industry is implementing to increase safety after Fukushima, including considerations on reducing the risk of radiation releases from a severe nuclear accident.
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a meeting on the economic consequences of land contamination from a severe reactor accident on Sept. 11. The meeting will be webcast.