- Tokyo Electric Power Co. has released English translations of its Management Policy Toward Restoration of the Fukushima Daiichi site and environs as well as a 71-item Intensive Reform Implementation Action Plan for executing the policy. The plan includes building an international reactor safety research center, a mock-up facility to investigate how to repair leaks in reactors’ primary containment vessels and an equipment maintenance center. The plan also calls for accelerating the removal of used fuel from reactor 4’s storage pool and setting up a “Fukushima revitalization headquarters” to move some functions of TEPCO’s Tokyo head office to Fukushima.
- Japan is now the world’s largest consumer of liquefied natural gas, as Japan’s utilities struggle to provide electricity to their customers while unable to use their idled nuclear capacity. Kansai Electric Power Co. has announced a 15-year purchase agreement for 500,000 tons of LNG from BP Singapore, while Kyushu Electric Power Co. has joined with Kansai in a one-year agreement to purchase 1 million tons of coal from the United States. Kyodo News notes that KEPCO has applied for rate hikes to offset the cost of its fossil fuel imports. They also report that the utility is counting on the restart of its Takahama reactors 3 and 4 to return to profitability by 2013. KEPCO’s two reactors at Ohi are the only operating nuclear energy facilities in Japan.
- Toshiba Corp. has unveiled a waist-high, four-legged walking robot for use in investigating difficult-to-reach areas at Fukushima Daiichi as Tokyo Electric Power Co. works to decontaminate and decommission the site. Toshiba said its “tetrapod robot” can climb stairs and avoid obstacles and will be equipped with dosimeters and cameras. The company said it also is developing a robot that will be able to “position and install shielding, stop flows of water and remove obstacles.”
- NEI’s Safety First website has a profile of Michelle Shoresman, emergency preparedness program manager at California’s San Luis Obispo County Health Agency, describing her emergency response planning with PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear energy facility.
- The House of Japan website said the Nuclear Regulation Authority met with a panel of experts last week to begin drawing up new standards for ordering evacuations of residents in the event of a severe nuclear accident. The NRA standards will be modeled after those of the International Atomic Energy Agency and are to be ready by the end of the year.
- An editorial in the Mainichi asks all major political parties running in Japan’s upcoming national election to clearly explain their policies and plans for the country’s nuclear energy sector. NHK World notes that anti-nuclear minority parties are seeking to unite before the December election.
- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a public meeting Dec. 27 to discuss with the Boiling Water Reactor Owners’ Group the implementation of the agency order on reliable hardened containment vents as recommended by the NRC’s post-Fukushima task force.
- 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.
- NRC staff will meet with the agency’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Dec. 4 to finalize its options for creating a more integrated regulatory framework as recommended by the post-Fukushima task force.
- 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.”