Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, July 1, 2011

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—July 1, 2011.

TEPCO Resumes Decontaminating Water to Cool Reactors

Plant Status

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) resumed decontaminating water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant after fixing a software flaw that caused an automatic shutdown of the decontamination system. After a short investigation identified the flaw, the problem was corrected and decontamination resumed. The decontaminated water is being reused to cool reactors at the facility.

TEPCO has begun transfer of water contaminated at lower radiation levels from tanks in the reactor 6 turbine building to a barge moored near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The tanks hold about 12,000 tons of contaminated water, and workers will transfer about 8,000 tons to the barge.

TEPCO is making progress on a new cooling water system for the used fuel storage pool at reactor 3. The company is testing the system and plans to have it operating next week. The reactor 2 fuel pool is at full cooling capability, but TEPCO is still considering options for cooling water for the reactor 4 storage pool, where piping and valves in the pool’s cooling water system were damaged in March by a hydrogen explosion in the upper portion of the containment building. TEPCO said it intends to have the cooling systems in all fuel storage pools operating by mid-July, but that issues with the damaged reactor 4 system may delay progress.

TEPCO sent an American-supplied robot into the reactor 3 building to remove highly radioactive sand, dust and rubble. The robot is manually operated from outside the building. If the effort is successful, TEPCO will begin preparations to inject nitrogen to prevent hydrogen explosions. The company is already injecting nitrogen into reactors 1 and 2.

Contrary to earlier reports, TEPCO said that three workers at the Fukushima site have been exposed to more than 25 rem of radiation—the legal limit for plant workers in an emergency situation. For comparison, a CT scan results in 1 rem of radiation exposure to a patient.

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

TEPCO’s new president, Toshio Nishizawa, visited towns near the Fukushima Daiichi facility and apologized to their mayors for the difficulties caused by the accident. The mayors said their constituents expect TEPCO to offer compensation to those who have or will suffer financial losses in their businesses because of the accident, not just those evacuated from their homes.

The Japanese government is recommending that 113 households evacuate from four districts within the city of Date. Higher levels of radiation have been detected sporadically in the affected districts near Fukushima Daiichi. Evacuation is voluntary and those who choose to move will be compensated.

Reports in the Japanese media on radiological impacts say urine samples from 10 children in the city of Fukushima showed small amounts of radioactive cesium.

Media Highlights

Tom Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Company, explains seven steps that the U.S. industry is taking to respond to the Fukushima accident in a column for U.S. News & World Report.

Reuters reports on TEPCO’s second round of compensation to people affected by the Fukushima Daiichi event, with each family receiving up to 300,000 yen (about $3,700). The first round earlier this year paid as much 1 million yen (about $12,400) per family.

New Products

NEI has launched a new website, Safety First, dedicated to Fukushima to provide up-to-date information on developments in Japan and steps that the industry is taking to enhance safety and emergency preparedness at America’s commercial reactors.

Upcoming Events

The task force reviewing U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission processes and regulations in light of the accident at Fukushima is expected to release its report on July 12. The task force will brief the commissioners on the report at a July 19 public meeting.

Source: nei.org