Washington, DC—(ENEWSPF)—June 24, 2011 – Update as of 5 p.m. EDT
Japanese Minister Calls for Restart of Nuclear Plants to Ease Electricity Supply Shortages
Tokyo Electric Power Co. is continuing efforts to reduce the accumulation of radioactive water from cooling operations at Fukushima Daiichi reactors 1, 2 and 3. With reactor temperatures stabilizing, the company is reducing the water injection flow rate into the reactors. The total inflow rate is now about 386 tons per day. Heavy rains are challenging TEPCO’s effort to contain water accumulating onsite.
TEPCO’s system to decontaminate and recycle the radioactive water in the basements of reactor buildings is now operating. As of Friday, a total of 3,000 tons of water has been decontaminated. The system is now filtering water at a rate of 400 tons per day. The design capacity of the system is 1,200 tons per day. The desalination component of the system has also begun operating. TEPCO plans to recycle the decontaminated water to cool the reactors, possibly as soon as next week.
About 99 tons of water was injected late last week into the reactor 4 used fuel pool using the new temporary “giraffe” injection line. The equipment storage pool—referred to in the United States as the “dryer separator pit”—has also been refilled with water to shield workers from activated metals being stored there.
Banri Kaieda, Japanese minister for economy, trade and industry, said at the IAEA ministerial conference in Vienna this week that it is vital for the country’s economy that the nation’s nuclear energy facilities restart. According to the Japan Atomic Industry Forum, as of mid-May only 17 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors were in operation, representing less than a third of the total nuclear generating capacity. Local governments and populations must approve the restart of nuclear reactors. In a call to encourage restart approvals, Kaieda said, “Electricity restraint is the largest issue for the growth of Japan’s economy.” The Japanese government will hold a meeting in western Japan to explain the issue of restarting nuclear plants to local residents.
The Japan Meteorological Agency reported that a magnitude-6.7 earthquake shook northeast Japan on Thursday morning, but no damage or injuries resulted. The epicenter was off the coast of Iwate prefecture about 300 miles northeast of Tokyo.
Radiation exposure to schoolchildren in Fukushima prefecture continues to be a concern to local residents. The government has been removing topsoil from highly contaminated areas to reduce radiation levels below its limit of 0.4 mrem per hour. However, parents and teachers say this level is too high compared to long-term limits set by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. Fukushima prefecture officials have decided to distribute personal dosimeters to 280,000 children ranging from infants to junior high school students.
Scott Peterson, NEI’s senior vice president for communications, contributed to a Freakonomics blog discussion on the future of nuclear power in the aftermath of Fukushima.
The Japan-America Society held a seminar yesterday in Washington, D.C., on “The Future of Nuclear Energy Around the World,” June 23, Washington, D.C.
A new fact sheet, “Emergency Preparedness at Nuclear Energy Facilities,” has been posted on the NEI website.
Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s chief nuclear officer and senior vice president, responds in a video to the factual inaccuracies in a recent series of articles by The Associated Press on nuclear plant safety and regulatory oversight. The video can be found on NEI’s YouTube channel here.
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s ministerial conference on nuclear safety in Vienna ends today, June 24.