- The operators of U.S. nuclear energy facilities last week approved a contract to develop two regional response centers that will store emergency equipment for rapid delivery in case of an extreme event at any nuclear plant. “The regional response centers will further increase the industry’s preparedness for severe challenges, regardless of their causes,” said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s chief nuclear officer. “This is another example of the industry’s commitment to learn the lessons from the Fukushima accident in Japan and apply those lessons to enhance safety across the U.S. nuclear energy industry.” The centers will be located near Memphis and Phoenix and will be managed by Pooled Equipment Inventory Co.
- Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority last week released revised draft “disaster prevention” guidelines. The director of NRA’s nuclear emergency preparedness program said the final guidelines, to be completed by the end of the year, will contain additional detail on “emergency action levels” and “operational intervention levels.” Several NRA members were in Washington last week to discuss the agency’s plans with U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane and to discuss cooperation between the two agencies.
- Last week the NRA released maps and data showing results of simulated Fukushima-like accidents for each of Japan’s 17 nuclear energy facility sites. The simulation, which used the MACCS2 code also used by the U.S. NRC, suggested that radiation doses could exceed 10 rem in seven days outside the 19-mile (30-kilometer) “urgent protective action planning zones” of four plants—Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, Fukushima Daini, Ohi and Hamaoka. The IAEA recommends evacuation at that radiation level. An NRA spokesman said the simulation results should not be considered to be precise predictions since they did not account for local geographical features and variables such as wind and weather.
- The U.S. NRC last week issued for public comment draft guidance for licensees to conduct tsunami, surge or seiche hazard assessments as part of flooding hazard re-evaluations. The re-evaluations are part of a post-Fukushima request for information issued by the agency in March. The draft guidance is available on NRC’s ADAMS document system under accession number ML12271A036. Comments may be submitted by Nov. 26 via www.regulations.gov, referencing Docket ID NRC-2012-0261.
- Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to transfer the fuel from the four Fukushima Daini reactors to the used fuel storage pools by March 2015. TEPCO has not decided whether to restart the units. All four reactors were operating when the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami struck, but were safely shut and have been in cold shutdown since then. The company says the pools have adequate capacity to accept the additional assemblies.
- A story on NEI’s Safety First website describes the new emergency operations facilities that FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co. has built for each of its nuclear energy facilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
- Also on the Safety First website, as the United States heads into the last week before national elections, is a list of comments on the benefits of nuclear energy from a wide selection of elected officials and opinion leaders.
- NHK World reports that Kansai Electric Power Co. is expected to notify Japanese regulatory authorities that it believes its Ohi nuclear energy facility is not located above an active seismic fault. Two reactors at the facility are the only ones currently operating in Japan. NRA is expected to confirm the assessment later this week.
- Japan Today describes TEPCO’s continuing efforts to store and treat the accumulating amounts of contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi site.
- A report from the website House of Japan describes a new robot that is designed to enter the basements of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors to look for the source of water leaks.
- In anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, NEI has canceled its Fukushima Regulatory Response Workshop, which was scheduled for Oct. 29-30 in Washington, D.C.
- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission also has cancelled some Fukushima-related meetings this week, but it intends to hold an Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Fukushima subcommittee meeting on filtered venting strategies the afternoon of Oct. 31. For updates on whether NRC meetings will be affected by Hurricane Sandy, check the agency’s public meetings website here.