- Preliminary results of an endoscopic examination of the interior of Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2 indicates that the water covering the damaged fuel at the bottom of the containment vessel is two feet deep. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said they were expecting the water level to be at least six feet, though the company said it is satisfied that the damaged fuel is being adequately cooled. TEPCO says it also will measure radiation levels inside the vessel to develop equipment needed to eventually decommission the reactor. Further details of the endoscopic campaign are available on TEPCO’s website here.
- An inspection by Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency found last week that TEPCO has not developed adequate maintenance programs for several systems related to the cold shutdown condition of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. The systems in question include those for high-level wastewater treatment and storage and for injection of containment water and borated water. NISA has asked TEPCO to provide plans to address the violations by April 19.
- The U.S. nuclear industry is working on guidance for plant operators to respond to orders and requests for information that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued last week to enhance nuclear safety based on lessons learned from the Fukushima accident. The Nuclear Energy Institute has sent draft generic guidance documents to the NRC for review, covering flooding walkdowns, prioritization for flooding evaluations, and emergency preparedness communications and staffing. Industry implementation plans are due to the NRC by Feb. 28, 2013.
- Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is to endorse the results of the initial safety stress test on Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata reactor 3. NISA will report to the Nuclear Safety Commission that the stress test was conducted appropriately. The NSC could then recommend to the government that local authorities consent to restart the reactor. NISA is assessing first-stage stress test results of 16 Japanese reactors that have been suspended for maintenance inspections.
- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is to meet with cabinet ministers next week to discuss whether the Nuclear Safety Commission’s endorsement of stress test results for Kansai Electric’s Ohi reactors 3 and 4 is sufficient to seek local government agreement to restart the reactors. Last week, Kansai Electric workers practiced restoring safety systems at the Ohi facility in an emergency drill simulating a loss of power. The neighboring Shiga and Fukui prefectures also conducted evacuation drills involving emergency responders and some residents.
- Recyclable-Fuel Storage Co., a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Co., has resumed construction of Japan’s first used fuel interim storage facility after work was suspended last year in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The company plans to store used fuel from the Japan Atomic Power Co. and TEPCO at the facility for 50 years once operations begin October 2013. Meanwhile, Tohoku Electric Power Co. has begun construction of a seawall for its Higashidori site, home to one operating and one planned nuclear reactor. The seawall, which is expected to be completed this December, is 6.4 feet high. The site is located more than 40 feet above sea level.
- Japan’s NHK World notes the closure of TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactor 6 this week for inspection. With the suspension of the last of TEPCO’s 17 reactors, only one of Japan’s 54 reactors remains in operation. Some analysts are predicting power shortages in the summer if Japan’s nuclear generation does not resume. The Japanese government says restarting the country’s nuclear reactors is necessary to meet summer electricity demand and to avoid large cost increases for imported fossil fuel.
- John Higson of the Australasian Radiation Protection Society writes that with no radiation injuries expected from Fukushima, most of the health effects related to the accident have been psychological, resulting from the forced relocation of populations and from “exaggerated fears” of radiation. Another article in Mainichi Daily News recounts patients who have been admitted to Japanese hospitals with psychiatric disorders brought about by their “fears of radiation exposure.”
- The Nuclear Energy Institute has launched its new Facebook page, with the goal of better communicating with supporters of the nuclear energy industry.
- A webinar, “Setting a New Standard for Quality in Nuclear Power One Year after Fukushima,” will be conducted by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers Thursday, March 29.