The operators of U.S. nuclear energy facilities last week approved a contract to develop two regional response centers that will store emergency equipment for rapid delivery in case of an extreme event at any nuclear plant. “The regional response centers will further increase the industry’s preparedness for severe challenges, regardless of their causes,” said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s chief nuclear officer. “This is another example of the industry’s commitment to learn the lessons from the Fukushima accident in Japan and apply those lessons to enhance safety across the U.S. nuclear energy industry.” The centers will be located near Memphis and Phoenix and will be managed by Pooled Equipment Inventory Co. Read More »
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. Read More »
While the Onagawa facility remains safely shut down, its employees are still at work preparing for the day when the plant may come back online. In this video report from NHK World, Onagawa’s employees are participating in a tsunami drill using new equipment acquired in the aftermath of the accident at Fukushima. In other news, a delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency will be visiting Onagawa next week to begin a seismic inspection.
The Japanese government and four regional power companies will announce electricity rationing contingency plans by mid-June. With all of Japan’s nuclear reactors offline, the government is predicting power shortages in the western and northern areas of the country. Blackouts are expected to be limited to a few hours per day in each area, and essential services such as railways, hospitals and fire departments will be exempt. Japan posted a record $6.5 billion trade deficit in April. It was the second straight month that the country’s imports exceeded its exports, mostly due to the need for liquefied natural gas and crude oil for thermal power plants.
Taking Action To Boost Safety at U.S. Nuclear Energy Facilities
Through its relentless commitment to the pursuit of excellence in operations, the U.S. nuclear industry is taking significant action to ensure that each of the nation’s 104 nuclear plants operate safely and securely.