Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Fukushima Nuclear Accident, June 1, 2011

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–June 1, 2011.  UPDATE 5:00 PM EDT

IAEA Study Team Recommends Regular Hazard Assessments

Plant Status

  • A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has been investigating the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, said, in addition to being highly complimentary to the plant operators for their actions following the accident, the risk of tsunamis has been underestimated at several plant sites in Japan. In its preliminary findings, the IAEA said hazards should be reassessed and updated periodically. Included among a number of recommendations is that “regulatory independence and clarity of roles are preserved” during severe accidents. IAEA will present the report at a conference on nuclear safety beginning June 20 in Vienna.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has installed a new circulating water cooling system–the first such system installed at the plant since the accident–for the used fuel storage pool for reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Previously, the company had pumped cooling water into the pool using a fire pump. The new system will circulate water through a heat exchanger and return the cooled water to the pool in an effort to reduce the high humidity that has been hampering recovery work at that reactor. The utility plans to install similar systems for other fuel storage pools at the site.
  • Workers have replaced a broken pump at reactor 5 at the Fukushima Daiichi site. The reactor had been safely shut down since before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The pump is one of several that provides cooling water for the reactor.
  • TEPCO is evaluating exposure of two employees to high levels of radiation. The company said that shortly after the March 11 accident, the workers may have received a dose exceeding the 25 rem emergency level set by the government. The government has ordered TEPCO to test more workers at the plant for radiation exposure.
  • The government also is urging TEPCO to finalize plans for processing contaminated water that is collecting at Fukushima Daiichi. Heavy rain this week exacerbated rising levels of contaminated water in some of the plant’s buildings. The government has asked TEPCO to provide additional storage facilities for the water. The company also plans to install seawater purifiers near the water intakes for reactors 2 and 3. It expects to treat up to 30 tons of water per hour from inside the underwater silt fences that were installed earlier to help reduce contamination into the ocean. The company expects treatment to begin Thursday.
  • TEPCO has launched a live Web video stream from the Fukushima Daiichi site. The camera, installed about 250 meters northwest of reactor 1, shows images of reactors 1-4.
  • About 1,800 people have not evacuated from their homes near the Fukushima Daiichi site, despite passage of a government deadline to relocate. The government advised about 10,000 residents outside the 12.5-mile evacuation zone to relocate by the end of May. Those who remain include cattle farmers and those who cannot secure housing.

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

Media Highlights

  • NEI’s chief nuclear officer, Tony Pietrangelo, is scheduled to appear on CNN International today live at 7:30 p.m. EDT. He will discuss recent nuclear energy developments, including Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear energy by 2022.
  • The German government on Monday said it plans to shut all of the nation’s nuclear power plants within the next 11 years, a sharp reversal for Chancellor Angela Merkel after the Japanese disaster at Fukushima caused an electoral backlash by voters opposed to reliance on nuclear energy, The New York Times reported. Reaction to the chancellor’s announcement has been mixed, and companies that operate the country’s reactors have said they will sue the German government over the early closures.

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