Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, June 9, 2011

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—June 10, 2011 – Update as of 3:30 p.m. EDT.

Test Run Begins for Water Filtration System at Fukushima Daiichi

Plant Status

Starting Friday, June 10, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will begin a weeklong test run of the new water filtration system it intends to use to decontaminate and reuse the 105,000 tons of highly radioactive water that has flooded the facilities at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The system is expected to reduce concentrations of radioactive materials in the water by a factor of up to 1 million. Oil and salt will be also removed. Contaminated water is accumulating at a rate of 500 tons per day as cooling water is injected into the reactors. The system is expected to treat 1,200 tons of water a day and should aid TEPCO’s efforts to control water management issues at the plant. There are growing fears that the contaminated water could otherwise start overflowing the plant basements by late June.

TEPCO reports that two of its workers have received radiation doses exceeding the company’s limit of 25 rem. The results of analyses showed the workers’ total doses were above 60 rem, accompanied by elevated thyroid iodine-131 levels. TEPCO anticipates no acute health effects for the workers, who have been transferred to the Fukushima Daini site. A third TEPCO worker is being evaluated after elevated thyroid radioiodine levels were reported.

The company is again using a concrete pumping truck to spray dust inhibitor on the roof and walls of the turbine buildings of reactors 1 and 2. The dust inhibitor is a synthetic resin that prevents the dispersion of radioactive materials.

TEPCO reports that as summer temperatures climb, the company is improving working conditions for recovery workers at the Fukushima Daiichi site. Eight air-conditioned rest areas are now in operation on-site where workers can temporarily remove their protective gear during rest periods. Four more rest areas are under construction.

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues
TEPCO is setting up two accident investigation committees, one internal to the company and the other composed of outside experts from Japanese universities, the Tohoku radiological science center and a consumer agency. Both committees are expected to be established by June 11.

About 8,000 schoolchildren in Date City in Fukushima prefecture will be given personal dosimeters to monitor their radiation exposure. Thirty-eight miles from Fukushima Daiichi, the city is currently outside the evacuation zone. However, earlier this month estimated radiation levels at three locations exceeded the government’s evacuation level of 2 rem per year. The town’s mayor decided to take the measure when local parents expressed concerns about their children’s radiation exposure. The Japanese government promised to consider local people’s wishes when deciding to order further evacuations.

The Japanese government’s emergency task force published its preliminary report on lessons learned from the Fukushima accident. Among its recommendations is to establish the independence of Japan’s nuclear regulator, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. The report will be presented at a high-level ministerial conference on nuclear safety at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna June 20.

A forum of G8 and OECD Nuclear Energy Agency members this week published their post-Fukushima recommendations for national nuclear regulators. Their report will also be presented at the June 20 IAEA ministerial conference.

Media Highlights
A dozen reporters, including journalists with The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg business wire and National Geographic magazine attended the news conference that NEI organized Thursday to announce the formation of a leadership structure among electric sector organizations to coordinate and oversee the industry’s response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident. For more information on the press conference, see The Times’ blog coverage of the press event.

NEI’s chief nuclear officer, Tony Pietrangelo, participated this week in a taped, 30-minute panel discussion on Fukushima implications that will air on public television in July. The “Ideas in Action” program is hosted by one of Washington’s more thoughtful commentators, Jim Glassman. An exact air date is not yet known.

New Products
NEI’s report on the new electric-sector leadership structure to coordinate the industry’s response to Fukushima, “The Way Forward: U.S. Industry Leadership in Response to the Accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant,” has been posted on the NEI website.

Upcoming Events
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is holding a June 15 briefing on the progress of the task force reviewing NRC processes and regulations the events in Japan. The event will be webcast live.

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a June 16 oversight hearing on preliminary results of the NRC’s nuclear safety review in the United States following the emergency at Fukushima Daiichi. Witnesses are to include all five NRC commissioners.