Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, October 12, 2011

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 12, 2011.  

U.S. Nuclear Energy Industry Aligned With Short-Term NRC Priorities

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

  • The U.S. nuclear energy industry is generally aligned with the short-term priorities for post-Fukushima safety enhancements recommended by a staff panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Charles Pardee, Exelon Generation’s chief operating officer, told the NRC commissioners yesterday. Pardee’s remarks came at a public meeting at NRC headquarters to brief commissioners on the staff’s prioritization of post-Fukushima regulatory activities. Pardee, who chairs the industry’s Fukushima Response Steering Committee, also said that regulatory analyses should be realistic and based on safety benefit. He urged the agency not to divert resources to activities that have minimal safety significance.
  • Outdoor cleanup workers at Fukushima Daiichi will be required to wear protective masks and carry dosimeters to monitor radiation under enhanced safety guidelines from Japan’s health ministry. Previous guidelines covered only indoor workers at the plant.
  • The Fukushima Prefecture government has begun thyroid gland examinations for about 360,000 children. Officials said they expect to complete the examinations by 2014. Participants will receive follow-up tests every two years until they turn 20, then will be examined every five years throughout their lives.
  • The Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun estimates that the Japanese government will be responsible for decontaminating various levels of radiation in about 5,020 square miles in eight prefectures. This area makes up 3 percent of the country’s land mass. The Japanese Environment Ministry said it will decontaminate areas with radiation levels higher than 0.1 rem per year—one-tenth of the exposure from a CT scan. Earlier, the ministry had said that only areas with more than 0.5 rem per year would be included in the cleanup.
  • The mayor of a village north of Tokyo has asked the government to decommission the Tokai Daini nuclear energy facility. The Japan Atomic Power Co. plant shut down automatically after the March 11 earthquake and has been undergoing inspections since that time.

Plant Status

  • TEPCO has reduced to a safe level potentially explosive hydrogen in a pipe in reactor 1 of the Fukushima Daiichi facility. Last month hydrogen gas built up in the pipe, which is connected to the reactor’s containment vessel. The company injected inert nitrogen gas into the pipe to flush out the hydrogen.

Media Highlights

  • The World Nuclear Association said the next decade will see a 30 percent increase in nuclear generating capacity around the world, with a two-thirds increase by 2030, The New York Times reports.
  • Virginia voters approve—71 percent to 20 percent—of using nuclear energy to generate electricity, and 60 percent support the construction of new nuclear energy facilities, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. Nearly one in four Virginians said they are more concerned about nuclear energy safety after the North Anna facility was shut down because of an earthquake, but 52 percent said the shutdown didn’t change their minds.
  • Radiation readings inside the reactor 1 building at Fukushima Daiichi have dropped below the government’s safety limit for nuclear energy facility workers, the Mainichi Daily News reports.

Upcoming Events

  • NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko will speak on lessons learned from Fukushima Oct. 24 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Washington, D.C. Details are on the AAAS website.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety will hold the second joint hearing on the NRC’s near-term post-Fukushima task force recommendations Nov. 3. All five NRC commissioners will be invited to testify. The first hearing was held Aug. 2.