NEI Updates: April 2012

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Japanese central government officials met last week with more than 550 people living near the Ohi nuclear energy facility to make the case that two of the four reactors are safe to restart. The mayor of Ohi said the town council would decide whether to approve the restart now that it has heard from the public. If the Ohi reactors are brought back online, they will be the first to resume operations since the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. Meanwhile, Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari 3, Japan’s last operating commercial nuclear reactor, will shut down for regular inspections this weekend. Last week, TEPCO officially removed the four damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors from its roster, leaving Japan with 50 operable commercial units.
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Plant Update

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. last week began preparing to build a covered structure alongside and above the reactor 4 building at Fukushima Daiichi. The structure will house a fuel-handling crane that will eventually remove more than 1,500 used fuel assemblies from the reactor’s used fuel storage pool for transfer to the site’s common pool. The steel-clad building, expected to be completed by the middle of next year, will have a tighter seal than the cover that was built for reactor 1 and will incorporate filters to prevent the spread of radioactive materials. TEPCO must remove accumulated debris from the reactor’s used fuel storage pool before the fuel itself can be moved. A schematic of the planned covered building is available on the TEPCO website here.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Japanese Industry Minister Yukio Edano has told the governor of Fukui Prefecture that the government has decided it is safe to restart two reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi nuclear power plant. Edano said he hoped the governor and local communities would support restarting the reactors, which help power Osaka and the heavily populated Kansai region. The prime minister and three cabinet ministers concluded last week that the plants met safety tests and approved the Ohi operator’s plans to enhance safety equipment at the plant. The government estimates an 18 percent electricity shortfall this summer in the areas served by Kansai Electric if the Ohi reactors remain shut down.
  • Japanese municipalities that host nuclear energy facilities are urging the government to expedite launching the new independent nuclear regulatory organization. An association of the municipalities said the new regulator would bolster public confidence in the safety of restarting reactors that have been shut down for maintenance.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Kansai Electric Power Co. has submitted to the Japanese ministry of industry its safety action plan to comply with new nuclear safety standards that the government says are necessary for shutdown reactors to restart. First-stage “stress tests” for Kansai’s two Ohi nuclear reactors have already been approved by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Nuclear Safety Commission. The tests demonstrate that the reactors would withstand an earthquake and tsunami similar to those that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility last March. The government’s new standards require nuclear energy facility operators to make plant safety improvements on a prearranged schedule. Kansai Electric agreed to install emergency power generators in multiple locations and, by 2015, install filtered vents and build an earthquake-resistant emergency response center.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • NEI has sent to nuclear energy facility managers a set of recommended generic templates for industry responses to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s orders on mitigation strategies, hardened containment vents and used fuel pool instrumentation. Initial responses to the orders are due to the NRC today, 20 days after they were issued March 12. The industry also is preparing requests for proposals from companies interested in operating a network of regional response centers stocked with emergency equipment to respond to severe events at nuclear energy facility sites. The regional response centers are part of the industry’s FLEX strategy. In the meantime, an industry initiative is under way to ensure that all plant operators had placed contracts or procurement orders for the first phase of the FLEX equipment by March 31, 2012.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First