Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The following news article originally appeared in NEI’s Nuclear Energy Overview.

A new Japanese government investigation of the Fukushima accident says that national and local organizations were ill-prepared for a large-scale and complex natural disaster such as last year’s earthquake and tsunami, leading to more severe accident consequences than would otherwise have been the case.

The study was commissioned in May 2011 by the cabinet and is the latest of several investigations into the accident that have been conducted in Japan by, among others, Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., the country’s parliament and its nuclear regulator.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • Kansai Electric Power Co. last week restarted a second reactor at its Ohi nuclear energy facility in Fukui prefecture. The company said Ohi reactor 4 should reach full power this week. Reactor 3, the first in the country to restart since the Fukushima accident, attained full power operations July 9. The government said it planned to partially lift power-saving restrictions in western Japan though it still would encourage voluntary measures especially if summer temperatures are above normal.
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has removed two unused fuel assemblies from a fuel pool at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, an encouraging sign of progress being made as part of the company’s long-term recovery plan.

“We cannot overstate the importance of this step by TEPCO,” said Steve Kraft, NEI’s senior director for Fukushima response coordination and strategy. “It not only demonstrates progress in beginning to remove the accumulated nuclear fuel in the damaged plants (particularly from reactor 4), but the new fuel assemblies will also be analyzed to provide information on the used fuel that will be invaluable in the effort to remove the used fuel.”
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The U.S. nuclear energy industry has begun to implement safety enhancements based on recommendations from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Japan task force. Last week, NRC staff observed inspections conducted by Dominion at its Kewaunee nuclear station in Wisconsin to assess its ability to withstand earthquakes. Kewaunee is the lead plant to test the inspection procedure, which will be repeated at all U.S. nuclear facilities.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • An independent commission appointed by Japan’s parliament to study the causes of last year’s nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi harshly criticized the government, the plant operator and the country’s national culture. After conducting 900 hours of public hearings and interviews with more than 1,100 people and visiting several nuclear power plants, the commission’s report concluded the accident was a “manmade disaster,” the result of “collusion between the government, the regulators and Tokyo Electric Power Co.” It said the “root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions.” The panel criticized the regulator for insufficiently maintaining independence from the industry in developing and enforcing safety regulations, the government for inadequate emergency preparedness and management, and TEPCO for its poor governance and lack of safety culture. The report calls for fundamental changes across the industry, including the government and regulators, to increase openness, trustworthiness and focus on protecting public health and safety. Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer, explains the differences in how U.S. and Japanese nuclear energy facilities are regulated and operated in a YouTube video.
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