Nuclear Energy

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • International Atomic Energy Agency experts are in Japan this week to verify the Japanese government’s recent approval of the safety of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Ohi 3 and 4, based on the results of European Union-style “stress tests.” James Lyons, director of IAEA’s nuclear installation safety division, said the final decision on restarting reactors shut down for safety inspections will rest with Japanese authorities. Passing the stress tests is a prerequisite for shutdown reactors to resume operation.
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Dominion Employee Inspecting Safety Systems Following Earthquake Near North Anna Power Station

Dominion Employee Inspecting Safety Systems Following Earthquake Near North Anna Power Station

Every nuclear energy facility in the United States is built with layer upon layer of safety systems. So, when a rare 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook the East Coast on August 23, this built-in margin of safety ensured that all 14 nuclear energy facilities from North Carolina to Michigan that were impacted by the quake safely withstood nature’s challenge.

Dominion’s North Anna Power Station in central Virginia, located just 11 miles from the epicenter of the quake, felt the most impact. Shortly after the earthquake began, North Anna’s two 1,800-megawatt reactors shut down safely and automatically as designed. Four locomotive-sized diesel generators activated to keep the facility’s safety systems running when power was lost.

“A 5.8-magnitude earthquake is highly unusual for the region,” said Eugene S. Grecheck, vice president of nuclear development at Dominion, “but the energy that was imparted to the plant by the quake was relatively minor. In fact, a detailed evaluation of the duration and energy of the August 23 event shows that it was actually less than one-third as strong as for which the facility was built.”
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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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NEI’s Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Tony Pietrangelo comments on the publication of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations’ (INPO) official timeline of Fukushima events after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

See also NEI’s news release and the Fukushima timeline report.

Plant Status

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported Sunday that it has begun removing radioactive cesium from the used fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2. TEPCO said this is a preparatory step to desalinating the pool water to avert corrosion of metallic components. After the March 11 accident, TEPCO used seawater to cool the fuel in the reactors and the pools. The company has been purifying and recycling water since July to cool the reactors, but it has now begun to purify the water in the used fuel pools. TEPCO reported that it has already begun desalinating reactor 4’s pool.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First