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Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, July 18, 2011

Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—July 18, 2011.

Government Recommends New Regulatory Oversight Agency for Japan Reactors

Plant Status

TEPCO is scheduled today to install a metal cover over the turbine building of reactor 3 before Typhoon Ma-on moves toward the Japanese coast on Tuesday. The 15-foot-by-50-foot structure is meant to cover a hole in the building.

TEPCO reported that the nitrogen injection into reactor 3 is not holding pressure. TEPCO is checking for leaks from the primary containment vessel. TEPCO said that it has injected more than 200 cubic meters of nitrogen into the containment vessel to stabilize the reactor, but there has been little increase in pressure within the secondary containment structure at reactor 3.

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

Goshi Hosono, Japan’s minister for nuclear crisis management, said he is drawing up plans for a new nuclear regulatory agency that is independent of the Economy and Industry Ministry. The new agency will incorporate some of the monitoring functions now being performed by the Science Ministry’s Nuclear Safety Commission. Hosono said he wants the new entity to be operational by next April.

Japanese reactors that are currently shut down should reopen once their safety is assured, Hosono said. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has developed two-stage computer-based stress tests to assess the resistance of the reactors to earthquakes, tsunamis, and loss of power and cooling capacity. The first-stage tests will apply to reactors that were shut down for regular inspections. The secondary tests are for all reactors and involve simulations for an earthquake accompanied by tsunami.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko spoke today on near-term lessons learned from Fukushima at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. NEI transmitted a letter to the commission on the NRC’s 90-day task force report and recommendations.  Jaczko is seeking a 90-day period for consideration of the task force recommendations, but the industry believes that more data is needed from Japan before many of the recommendations can be reviewed by the five NRC commissioners.

Reiterating the urgency of restarting shutdown nuclear reactors, the chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives said the shortfall in electricity supply could cause more companies to shift manufacturing abroad and affect the global competitiveness of Japanese industry.

Media Highlights

Bloomberg published a report on TEPCO’s preparations to protect Fukushima Daiichi from Typhoon Ma-on.

The Wall Street Journal ran an article on NRC Chairman Jaczko’s plan to expedite the commission’s regulatory response to the Fukushima accident.

An editorial in The Washington Post outlines some of the lessons that the U.S. nuclear industry should learn from Fukushima.

Upcoming Events

The NRC’s near-term post-Fukushima task force will brief the commissioners on its report at a public meeting July 19. A public NRC meeting to discuss the report is scheduled for July 28.

Source: nei.org

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