Japan Nuclear

Equipment-sharing program at Memphis, Phoenix locations augments industry protocol to pool safety equipment in event of emergencies

WASHINGTON, D.C., Oct. 25, 2012—The nuclear energy industry is adding another layer of safety and public protection by developing regional centers for critical equipment that could be needed to maintain safety in the event of an extreme event at America’s nuclear energy facilities. All companies that operate nuclear energy facilities approved a contract to develop two regional response centers managed by Pooled Equipment Inventory Co.

The regional response centers will be located near Memphis and Phoenix and capable of delivering supplemental emergency equipment to any of America’s nuclear energy facilities within 24 hours, enabling them to safely manage a loss of electrical power and/or cooling water supply. The equipment and materials provided by the regional response centers supplement the additional portable equipment purchased at all 64 nuclear energy facilities that also can be utilized and shared during a site emergency.

Pooled Equipment Inventory Co. has been providing a shared inventory service to meet emergent equipment needs to the nuclear industry for more than 30 years. The company has established an alliance with AREVA to implement the regional response centers by expanding its capability to provide services that include emergency response planning, procurement and outage services.

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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • AREVA has announced a contract to provide all 23 of Japan’s pressurized water reactors with passive autocatalytic recombiners, which will help prevent hydrogen from building up in emergency situations. The company said it will install more than 100 of the devices, which work constantly to oxidize traces of hydrogen into steam catalytically. The devices are not dependent on external power or operator intervention. AREVA says it has installed the recombiners in more than 140 plants worldwide. No Japanese facilities currently have the equipment. At the Fukushima Daiichi facility last year, hydrogen buildup from the oxidation of zirconium cladding in steam led to explosions that caused extensive damage.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The five commissioners heading Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) unanimously agreed last week to formulate new severe accident regulations for nuclear energy facilities, in line with the country’s atomic energy law that parliament amended in June. Accident scenarios to be covered will include terrorist actions as well as earthquakes and tsunamis. The NRA said draft regulations will be available for public comment March 2013 and are to be finalized by July. Two sets of final regulations are to be drawn up, to include plant system design considerations and severe accident management procedures.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The Japanese cabinet has endorsed a government policy panel’s strategy to gradually reduce nuclear as part of the country’s energy mix, while dropping a proposal to end the use of nuclear energy “in the 2030s.” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said days after the strategy was unveiled that “flexibility” in implementing the plan was important in the face of “a variety of uncertainties” and that review and discussion will continue. The strategy—without a hard timeline for a complete nuclear phase-out—calls for idled reactors to restart only after approvals from the new Nuclear Regulation Authority and for an operating lifetime of 40 years, instead of 50 to 60 years. Reprocessing and recycling of used nuclear fuel will continue.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The Japanese government’s Energy and Environment Council last week proposed a goal of phasing out nuclear energy “in the 2030s.” The new policy follows recent public surveys that indicate support for ending the country’s reliance on nuclear energy. The panel said the 48 currently idled reactors will be allowed to restart by the new regulatory body that is being put in place this week. Reactors will be kept to a 40-year operating period, with the possibility of a 20-year license extension. Completion of the three reactors under construction at the time of the Fukushima accident will be allowed. The official policy for reprocessing used nuclear fuel will continue as will the search for a host site for a used fuel repository. The policy will be submitted to other cabinet ministers for approval and a roadmap for the phase-out will be published later this year. Anticipating increases in fossil fuel usage, the policy also drastically slashes national carbon emission reduction goals.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First