Japan

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has recommended requiring engineered filters to the containment vents for Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors as a post-Fukushima response. A staff paper released this week for the commission’s consideration said an alternative performance-based approach to filtering preferred by industry and by the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards would work but take too long to implement.
  • Japan’s pro-nuclear energy Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory Dec. 16, taking 294 of the 480 seats in the lower chamber of parliament, despite voters’ relatively negative view of nuclear energy. A poll by the Japanese national newspaper Asahi Shimbun found that 16 percent of voters want to scrap nuclear energy immediately, 28 think it should be phased out and 15 percent support continuing to use nuclear energy. The newspaper concluded that voters did not consider nuclear energy a key issue in the race.
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The NRC has issued its final interim staff guidance describing one acceptable method for conducting integrated assessments of external flooding hazards at nuclear energy facilities. The guidance is intended for use in cases where a re-evaluation of the flooding hazard exceeds levels defined by the utilities’ flooding design basis.

The new guidance, JLD-ISG-2012-05, is the latest in a large volume of work the NRC staff is developing to address lessons learned from the 2011 reactor accident in Japan. Interim staff guidance clarifies issues that are not addressed in the standard review plan for nuclear energy facilities.

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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s new two-year business plan, released last week, projects that costs for decontaminating the area around Fukushima Daiichi and paying damages to evacuated residents will double from the $62.5 billion estimate from April. The company also expects the $12.5 billion estimated cost for decommissioning the facility to increase significantly. TEPCO is asking the government to review the revised business plan and for continued financial support to meet its obligations. In May, the government assumed 51 percent control of the utility’s shares, in return for allocating funds and assistance for compensation and decontamination.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is investigating whether Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi nuclear plant—the only operating facility in the country—is on an active fault line. The NRA heard last week from a group of experts who have surveyed the fissure. The agency has yet to decide whether the fissure in a 125,000-year-old rock stratum came from seismic activity or if it was caused by a landslide. The Japanese government bans nuclear plant operators from building facilities directly above active fault lines. The NRA said if the Ohi fissure is confirmed to be an active fault, it will halt the plant’s operations.
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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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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First