Used Fuel

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The New Jersey governor’s nuclear review task force, formed shortly after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, has published a report that concludes: “Based upon the information provided by the NRC and the licensees, the task force members have a high level of confidence that New Jersey’s nuclear power plants are operating safely and have effective mitigation plans to address the lessons learned from the Fukushima incidents.”
  • Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has approved the results of “stress test” simulations on Ohi reactors 3 and 4 in Fukui Prefecture. The NISA report to the Nuclear Safety Commission says the tests demonstrate the reactors can withstand earthquakes and tsunamis as strong as those that hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The final decision to restart the reactors rests with central and local governments. Last week, a team of International Atomic Energy Agency experts concluded that the tests met international standards.
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Plant Status

  • The Fukushima Daiichi reactors are in “a state of cold shutdown,” with temperatures at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessels and containment vessels stably below the boiling point and radiation levels at the plant boundary below 100 millirem per year. (By comparison, the average radiation level from all sources to U.S. citizens is about 400 millirem per year.) The announcement last Friday by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is a key milestone in the site’s recovery plan, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said on his first visit to the site since March.
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In light of the events at Fukushima in March, working together as a global nuclear industry to improve safety at plants worldwide is more important now than ever.  As many countries conduct internal evaluations to assess the safety and robustness of nuclear power plants, these lessons learned can help to identify areas for improvement that should be shared.

This collaboration is where organizations like the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) step in. As a nonprofit engaged in research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity, EPRI is in a unique position to help the global nuclear industry better understand lessons learned from Fukushima.
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Several news articles late this week have reported that Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant may be in “cold shutdown” by mid-December. Although the reports are mostly accurate, there is a difference between the traditional “cold shutdown” of a nuclear plant and what is happening at Fukushima.

First, what is cold shutdown? The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines it as:

The term used to define a reactor coolant system at atmospheric pressure and at a temperature below 200 degrees Fahrenheit following a reactor cooldown.

In non-nuclear speak, it basically means the conditions within the nuclear reactor are such that it would be impossible for a chain reaction to occur. This term usually comes into play whenever a reactor is shut down periodically for refueling or for the final time prior to the long-term before it is decommissioned. When a reactor is in cold shutdown, the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) can be safely opened with great care and additional water is added to the cavity above the vessel for shielding to permit safe handling of the fuel for refueling (replacing depleted fuel elements) or defueling (removing the entire core).
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Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The industry on Dec. 1 urged the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff to consider an integrated and flexible approach toward meeting the NRC’s Fukushima task force recommendations, arguing that this approach would result in faster, more efficient implementation of the most safety-significant recommendations. The industry advocated enhancing the post-9/11 concept of using portable equipment to address loss of all AC power and loss of ultimate heat sink from a variety of natural phenomena. This enhanced mitigation action—called a “diverse and flexible mitigation capability”—could be supplemented by regional response centers that could provide additional hardware and equipment to further extend coping capability should there be a longer-term loss of power or cooling capability.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First