Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, September 17, 2012

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–September 17, 2012.

Japanese Government Panel Proposes Policy for Nuclear Phase-Out


  • The Japanese government’s Energy and Environment Council last week proposed a goal of phasing out nuclear energy “in the 2030s.” The new policy follows recent public surveys that indicate support for ending the country’s reliance on nuclear energy. The panel said the 48 currently idled reactors will be allowed to restart by the new regulatory body that is being put in place this week. Reactors will be kept to a 40-year operating period, with the possibility of a 20-year license extension. Completion of the three reactors under construction at the time of the Fukushima accident will be allowed. The official policy for reprocessing used nuclear fuel will continue as will the search for a host site for a used fuel repository. The policy will be submitted to other cabinet ministers for approval and a roadmap for the phase-out will be published later this year. Anticipating increases in fossil fuel usage, the policy also drastically slashes national carbon emission reduction goals.
  • About 18 months after the Fukushima accident, Japan’s new Nuclear Regulation Authority is slated to launch Sept. 19, according to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. The new agency, which will replace both the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and the Nuclear Safety Commission, will largely be independent of the government and will be overseen by a separate five-member commission. Some of the 500 staff members of the new agency will be transferred from NISA while others will come from the education and science ministry.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Association of Nuclear Operators have agreed to adopt a “more coordinated approach” on their post-Fukushima peer review and information exchange activities. A news release said the agencies will better coordinate the support each organization provides in the event of a serious nuclear event anywhere in the world. The IAEA also announced the launch of a new database to monitor radiation measurements collected in Japan following the Fukushima accident.
  • Commissioner Kristine Svinicki said last week the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission agrees with agency staff that the U.S. nuclear regulatory framework is “sound” and adequately considers economic consequences associated with the unintended release of radiation from a nuclear accident. The NRC staff and commissioners agreed to look further at the issue in the context of a “holistic review” of NRC regulation, as recommended by the agency’s post-Fukushima task force. The commissioners also testified last week at a Senate committee hearing that the industry and the regulator are making good progress on post-Fukushima safety enhancements.

Media Highlights

  • The Asahi Shimbun says the Fukushima prefectural government’s first round of tests on 80,000 local children has revealed no excess thyroid cancers a year after the Fukushima accident. The program will monitor the health of 360,000 children in Fukushima prefecture over their lifetimes.
  • The Daily Yomiuri reported that Tokyo Electric Power Co. successfully removed the reactor pressure vessel head of Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4 and lowered it to the ground. Photos of the operation, in preparation for the reactor’s decommissioning, are available on TEPCO’s website here.
  • U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman, meeting with the policy chief of Japan’s ruling party, expressed his concern over the effect of the country’s new nuclear phase-out policy on global fossil fuel prices, said the Japan Times.

Upcoming Meetings

  • NEI President and CEO Marvin Fertel will speak at an event on “Ensuring a Safe and Secure Future for Nuclear Energy” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Sept. 19. Other speakers include NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and former New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici.


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