Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, August 29, 2011

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—August 29, 2011.

Noda Chosen to Replace Kan as Prime Minister

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has chosen Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda to be its new party leader. The election paves the way for Noda to replace Naoto Kan as the country’s sixth prime minister in five years. The BBC reports that Noda wants Japan’s nuclear reactors restarted and has not backed Kan’s call for a nuclear-free Japan. The Japanese cabinet is expected to resign in the next few days, after which the parliament will elect the new prime minister. Last week, Kan announced his intention to resign as prime minister.

Nuclear accident response will be one of the important new roles of the nuclear regulatory body slated to replace Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. A nuclear training academy will be established to train staff for the new Nuclear Safety Agency, including designated “emergency specialists.” The new agency, to be part of the Ministry of Environment, also will include regulatory, oversight and environmental monitoring functions.

Outgoing Prime Minister Naoto Kan has informed the governor of Fukushima prefecture of a plan to build a central facility to temporarily store waste, including contaminated soil, from the cleanup of radioactive contamination in the prefecture.

Plant Status

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that, for the first time since monitoring began, no radioactive cesium was detected in the seawater near the water intakes for Fukushima Daiichi reactor 3. TEPCO also reported that no radioactive materials were detected from seawater samples taken from seven locations along the coast.

Media Highlights

Yomiuri Shimbun reports that Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda expects the 25 Japanese nuclear reactors shut down for inspections to restart “this year,” after the results of the reactors’ first-stage stress tests are reviewed by federal regulators.

An article in Mainichi Daily News describes the eventual decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.

Upcoming Events

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will conduct a meeting on Aug. 31 to hear public comments on the recommendations of the agency’s near-term Japan task force. The staff will propose which of the task force recommendations the commission should act on in the near term.  The meeting will be webcast live.