- Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff told NEI Chief Nuclear Officer Tony Pietrangelo that the agency has reached “a turning point” in understanding how the industry’s holistic, “all-hazards” approach would enhance safety in the light of lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Industry and NRC steering committees met last Friday to discuss the industry’s proposed flexible and diverse (“FLEX”) strategy, which aims to provide a range of portable equipment for nuclear plants to maintain cooling capability and power during severe natural events. Articles in The New York Times and on the Dow Jones newswire previewed the discussions and describe the industry strategy.
- Tokyo Electric Power Co. yesterday submitted to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency its first stress test results on two nuclear reactors. TEPCO said its analyses showed that Kashiwazaki-Kariwa reactors 1 and 7 would withstand an earthquake 1.3 times stronger than its design basis and a tsunami of nearly 50 feet, almost five times the safety standard. The assessments are a precondition for restarting reactors that have been temporarily shut down for inspection. So far, other Japanese nuclear utilities have submitted stress test results for 14 reactors, nearly one-third of the total number awaiting restart permission from NISA and local authorities.
- Representatives from Fukushima Prefecture and municipalities near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility last week began discussions on whether to accept the central government’s plan to temporarily store contaminated soil in their communities. The central government requested permission in December to build storage facilities in the area. Representatives of Futaba, a town that which opposes the plan, were not present at the meeting—however, the other attendees agreed to ask the town to participate in future discussions.
- A group of 42 TEPCO shareholders are threatening to sue 60 company executives for negligence over the utility’s failure to prepare for the March 11 tsunami that damaged Fukushima Daiichi. The shareholders say they will file a suit for $71 billion in damages with the Tokyo District Court by the end of the month, after their demand that TEPCO auditors file the case was declined yesterday.
- TEPCO last Friday deposited with the Tokyo Legal Affairs Bureau about $1.56 billion (120 billion yen) as insurance coverage for the company’s nuclear energy facilities. The utility until recently was covered by the Japan Atomic Energy Insurance Pool, an industry organization established by 23 non-life insurers. However, the pool said last August it would not renew TEPCO’s contract after it expired Jan. 15. Japanese nuclear utilities are required by law to secure 120 billion yen in accident liability coverage. TEPCO says it is still seeking coverage from private-sector insurers.
- The industry’s flexible and diverse “FLEX” strategy for enhancing U.S. nuclear plant safety in the light of lessons learned from Fukushima is described on NEI’s Safety First website and on NEI Nuclear Notes.
- The PBS news series “Frontline” will air a report today, “Nuclear Aftershocks,” that will examine ”the implications of the Fukushima event for U.S. nuclear safety” and ask “if any of our 104 reactors could suffer a Fukushima-type accident.” The nuclear industry cooperated fully with the program producers, and “Frontline” camera crews toured New York’s Indian Point nuclear energy facility and the LaSalle County Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois. A brief preview of the program is available in NEI Nuclear Notes. For broadcast schedules, consult your local listings.
- An article in Forbes by Josh Bloom of the American Council on Science and Health (“Garbage In, Anti-Nuclear Propaganda Out: The 14,000 Death Fukushima Lie”) points out the flawed assumptions, data and conclusions in a recent study that attributed deaths in the United States to the Fukushima accident.
- NHK World reports on the Jan. 15 visit to the Fukushima Daiichi site by U.S. Ambassador to Japan John Roos. Accompanied by a delegation from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Energy, Roos said the United States would continue to offer Japan technical assistance to deal with the accident and with rebuilding efforts.
- An article by Bloomberg Businessweek says the independent panel asked by the Japanese parliament to investigate the causes of the Fukushima accident will have subpoena powers and is likely to probe more deeply than earlier government-sponsored inquiries.
- The U.S. NRC is holding a series of public meetings this week to continue discussions with industry representatives on implementing individual recommendations of the NRC’s Japan near-term task force. Meeting agendas and presentation materials are available on a special NRC webpage.