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

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

Japan Voters Return Pro-Nuclear Party to Power


  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has recommended requiring engineered filters to the containment vents for Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors as a post-Fukushima response. A staff paper released this week for the commission’s consideration said an alternative performance-based approach to filtering preferred by industry and by the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards would work but take too long to implement.
  • Japan’s pro-nuclear energy Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide victory Dec. 16, taking 294 of the 480 seats in the lower chamber of parliament, despite voters’ relatively negative view of nuclear energy. A poll by the Japanese national newspaper Asahi Shimbun found that 16 percent of voters want to scrap nuclear energy immediately, 28 think it should be phased out and 15 percent support continuing to use nuclear energy. The newspaper concluded that voters did not consider nuclear energy a key issue in the race.
  • Japan Atomic Power Co. rejected the finding of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) that its facility in Tsuruga sits on a newly discovered active fault line. The company said it would sponsor its own seismic study to confirm that it does not. Regulatory authorities can order the plant closed if it is correct.
  • The NRA said it would set a standard that’s tighter than that of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to determine when to evacuate local residents following a nuclear accident. It said it would evacuate people within a radius of 5 to 30 kilometers [3.1 to 18.6 miles] if radiation levels reached 500 microsieverts per hour rather than the 1,000 microsievert-level set by the IAEA.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency will establish a base in Fukushima prefecture to provide training and emergency equipment that could be used in nuclear accidents in Asia. The base may open as soon as next year. It will be the first IAEA base outside its headquarters in Vienna.

Media Highlights

  • Bloomberg reports that Tokyo Electric Power Co. led a surge in the stocks of Japanese power utilities after the Liberal Democratic Party won a landslide election victory. TEPCO jumped 33 percent, leading a 9.3 percent gain in the Topix Electric Power and Gas Index.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The NRC will provide an update on activities related to Fukushima task force recommendations 4 (mitigating strategies/FLEX) and 7 (used fuel pool instrumentation and makeup capability) Dec. 17.

This is the last issue of the Fukushima Update. As the situation in Japan has stabilized, the focus in this country has shifted to implementing lessons learned from the nuclear accident. News related to Japan’s response to the event will appear periodically in NEI’s online member publication Nuclear Energy Overview.