Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, April 2, 2012

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–April 2, 2012.

Industry Developing Guidance on NRC Orders, Ordering FLEX Equipment


  • NEI has sent to nuclear energy facility managers a set of recommended generic templates for industry responses to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s orders on mitigation strategies, hardened containment vents and used fuel pool instrumentation. Initial responses to the orders are due to the NRC today, 20 days after they were issued March 12. The industry also is preparing requests for proposals from companies interested in operating a network of regional response centers stocked with emergency equipment to respond to severe events at nuclear energy facility sites. The regional response centers are part of the industry’s FLEX strategy. In the meantime, an industry initiative is under way to ensure that all plant operators had placed contracts or procurement orders for the first phase of the FLEX equipment by March 31, 2012.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has released its final report on Japan’s two-stage “stress test” nuclear safety assessment process, finding that the measures are “generally consistent” with IAEA safety standards. The report recommends that local authorities review any safety upgrades made by plant operators and checked against IAEA standards.
  • Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is asking the operators of six nuclear energy facilities on Japan’s western coast to reassess nearby seismic faults. The plants include Mihama, Tsuruga, Monju, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, Shika and Shimane. An expert panel at the agency has been studying the possibility of faults more than 3 miles apart becoming simultaneously active—a phenomenon considered unlikely until last year’s earthquake. Results of the reassessments could force a revision of plant seismic standards and affect the outcome of the stress tests that shutdown plants are undergoing before they can restart.

Media Highlights

  • Mainichi Daily News reports that delays in the establishment of Japan’s new independent nuclear regulatory agency, meant to replace the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, are likely to affect the timetable for evaluating the restart of the country’s shutdown nuclear energy facilities.
  • Japan’s increasing reliance on alternate sources of energy to replace nuclear is highlighted in a Bloomberg article on plans to build floating wind turbines off the coast of Fukushima. An article in Platts points out that Tokyo Electric Power Co. imported 68 percent more oil in 2011-2012 than it did the previous year. The company shut down its last nuclear energy facility for scheduled maintenance March 26.
  • The Japanese government’s announcement that it is tightening its allowable limits of radioactive cesium in food could have a beneficial effect on consumer confidence, says a report by Mainichi Daily News.

New Products

  • NEI’s Safety First website profiles system engineer Dan O’Connor and the safety-related work he does at Dominion’s Surry nuclear energy facility.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The NRC is holding a public meeting in San Mateo, Calif., April 2 and 3, to discuss with industry representatives plans for plant seismic re-evaluations and “walkdowns” to identify near-term actions for enhancing earthquake resistance. Members of the public can participate via teleconference.
  • Members of NEI’s Fukushima regulatory response working group and specific issue task forces will meet at an April 5-6 workshop to discuss industry actions and plans to respond to the March 12 orders and requests for information the NRC issued relating to lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
  • Industry representatives and NRC staff will meet April 10 to discuss response schedules and guidance for the NRC’s orders and requests for information. The event will be webcast.