Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, April 30, 2012

Washigton, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 30, 2012.

Japan Officials, Local Residents Discuss Restarting Reactors


  • Japanese central government officials met last week with more than 550 people living near the Ohi nuclear energy facility to make the case that two of the four reactors are safe to restart. The mayor of Ohi said the town council would decide whether to approve the restart now that it has heard from the public. If the Ohi reactors are brought back online, they will be the first to resume operations since the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami. Meanwhile, Hokkaido Electric Power Co.’s Tomari 3, Japan’s last operating commercial nuclear reactor, will shut down for regular inspections this weekend. Last week, TEPCO officially removed the four damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactors from its roster, leaving Japan with 50 operable commercial units.
  • Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that safety enhancements by Chubu Electric Power Co. would allow its Hamaoka nuclear power plant to withstand a 67-foot tsunami and give it six days of coping time after a loss of power. The report came after a government panel last month revised upward its prediction for the likely intensity of a major earthquake expected along the Nankai trough in the Pacific Ocean.
  • NISA will ask the operators of four nuclear plants—Tomari, Tsuruga, Monju and Shimane—to reassess their seismic hazards. The agency added that if a fault running directly under the Tsuruga facility proves to be seismically active, it will not be allowed to restart.

Plant Update

  • Detailed analyses of the stability of Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4 have found that it remained level after last year’s earthquake and the hydrogen explosion that damaged the reactor building. Tokyo Electric Power Co. also found the facility had the structural integrity to allow the reactor’s used fuel storage pool to survive another earthquake of similar magnitude to the one in March 2011.
  • TEPCO will begin work in June to prevent contaminated water from Fukushima Daiichi from flowing underground into the ocean. The plan calls for sinking steel plates offshore to form a 2,500-foot wall and pouring about 78,000 cubic yards of soil into the enclosure. The project, part of TEPCO’s recovery roadmap, is to be completed by July 2014.

Media Highlights

  • Nuclear Power Daily reports on the operating losses posted by Japan’s nuclear utilities resulting from the shutdown of all but one of the country’s reactors since last March. Another article quotes the head of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development urging Japan to restart its nuclear facilities, which before last year’s earthquake provided a third of the country’s electricity. “You cannot substitute 30 percent of installed capacity overnight,” said OECD Secretary General Angel Gurría. Another report, by the World Economic Forum, warns that Japan risks its energy security if it abandons nuclear energy.
  • The Daily Yomiuri reports that three of nine electric utilities in Japan will fail to meet demand this summer unless nuclear plants begin to restart. The report adds, “If the reactivation of nuclear reactors is delayed, electricity rates are likely to rise regardless of whether power supplies meet demand.”

New Products

  • A story on NEI’s Safety First website describes the role of the various robots used in Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s efforts to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi site.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The NRC will hold a public meeting May 2 to discuss the staff’s interim guidance on how U.S. Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactor operators will implement an NRC order on reliable hardened containment vents.
  • The NRC will meet May 3 with industry representatives on Tier 3 recommendations from the staff’s Fukushima lessons-learned report.