fukushima daiichi

Mike Weightman tours the Technical Support Center at Fukushima Daiichi

Mike Weightman tours Fukushima Daiichi (Click to enlarge.)

Global Nuclear Industry Takes Steps to Improve Safety at Facilities Worldwide

As a leader in creating and promoting standards for nuclear safety, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spearheaded the global response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Gathering critical insights into the incident and the response that followed, IAEA leaders visited Japan several times over the past year, including a fact-finding mission to Fukushima Daiichi and two other facilities that were affected by the natural disaster.

NEI spoke with the leader of the mission, Mike Weightman, who is also the United Kingdom‘s Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations, to hear his first-hand account of what he learned on-site at Fukushima and the efforts to improve nuclear safety worldwide.
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Packbot enters Fukushima Daiichi unit 3's reactor building for the first time since the accident.

Packbot enters Fukushima Daiichi unit 3's reactor building for the first time since the accident. (Click to enlarge.)

When many of us think of robots, images of Wall-E, Optimus Prime, R2-D2 and other droids from our favorite science-fiction movies come to mind. However, robots have many critical real-life functions, including detecting bombs in war zones and assisting in recovery efforts at disaster areas. More recently, robots have been utilized to clean up the reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. These remotely-controlled vehicles have removed debris from the site and measured radioactivity in hazardous zones, all while transmitting video and information back to workers who monitor the data from a safe distance. The robots are master scouts, mapping radiation and taking samples to ensure that conditions are safe for their human colleagues.
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The following story originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.

In ongoing discussions with the NRC on the industry’s response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, NEI staff has stressed the need to consider a phased approach to regaining access to a nuclear facility site during an emergency caused by severe natural events.

In a draft letter requesting information on industry’s post-Fukushima emergency preparedness, NRC staff has asked the industry to provide information on its ability to implement an emergency plan in response to a hypothetical large-scale natural event that would result in:

  • all reactors at the facility site being affected
  • an extended loss of off-site power
  • impeded access to the reactor site.
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Plant Status

  • Water temperatures inside the Fukushima Daiichi reactor pressure vessels remain below boiling as operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. reports on progress toward stabilizing the damaged reactors. The company expects to reach what it calls a “cold shutdown condition” in the three reactors by the end of the year, with temperatures below 212 F and radiation contained. The exact status of the fuel in the reactors is not known. But if damaged fuel has leaked from the reactors into the primary containments, however, TEPCO said “it is sufficiently cooled to suppress steam from being generated and [the] accompanying release of radioactive materials.” Radiation measured at the site boundary is 10 millirem per year, one-tenth of the government safety limit. The circulating reactor cooling systems continue to function, as pumps maintain the total volume of accumulated water on the site at a level that can withstand heavy rain or an extended outage of processing facilities.

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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First