Nuclear Energy Institute Report on Japan’s Nuclear Reactors, October 1, 2012

Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–October 1, 2012.

EPRI Recommends Combining Strategies to Minimize Radiological Releases in Severe Accidents


  • A new study by the Electric Power Research Institute that examines options for minimizing the release of radioactive materials in a severe nuclear accident says that a combination of strategies would be much more effective than depending on any single measure. In particular, EPRI says that combining containment sprays or immersion of damaged fuel with a specifically designed vent that can reliably open and close at appropriate times would provide a more than 1,000-fold reduction in the amount of fission products released. Adding low-efficiency filters to vents can further reduce the release of fission product particles, although the report recommends further research to evaluate the efficacy of filter designs. EPRI acknowledges that “the best way to avoid radiological release and potential land contamination is to prevent an accident from occurring by improving and augmenting the strategies for preventing core damage,” a strategy in line with the industry’s “FLEX” approach.
  • Both low and high projections released last week in the International Atomic Energy Agency’s “Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050” predict that the Fukushima accident will slow but not stop global growth in nuclear energy programs. The low projection estimates a 25 percent increase in installed capacity by 2030; the high projection forecasts a doubling of capacity by then. The fastest growth will be in East and South Asia, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East.

Plant Update

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. last week removed debris from significant areas of Fukushima Daiichi reactor 3’s used fuel storage pool. During the operation a 20-foot long steel beam slipped into the pool onto the top of the fuel storage rack, but the company confirmed there was no damage to the fuel or storage rack or to pool cooling and monitoring systems. TEPCO photos of the fuel pool show the areas of debris that were cleared.

Media Highlights

  • The head of Japan’s new Nuclear Regulation Authority said the agency expects to complete an outline of revised safety standards for nuclear energy facilities by next April, the Asahi Shimbun reported. The Japan Times reports NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka saying that the agency will disregard the two-stage “stress tests” submitted by reactor operators to NRA’s predecessor NISA in deciding whether to restart the country’s idled reactors. Jiji Press notes that NRA also will revise national nuclear accident response guidelines by October, and that reactors will not be allowed to restart unless communities have adequate emergency preparedness plans in place.
  • Kyodo News notes the Electric Power Development Co.’s announcement that it has resumed construction of the Ohma nuclear energy facility in Aomori prefecture on the northern island of Honshu. The government last week announced in its new energy strategy that it would allow the two nuclear plants under construction when the Fukushima accident occurred—Ohma and Shimane—to be completed. The utility said Ohma is expected to start up May 2016, 18 months later than originally scheduled.
  • Japan Today reports that the government has picked a forested site in northern Ibaraki prefecture as a storage site for low-level radioactive debris and soil from Fukushima prefecture. A local mayor did not welcome the announcement. The mayor of the town of Yaita in Tochigi prefecture was similarly opposed when his town was named as a storage site earlier in September.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold a webinar on Oct. 4 to discuss NRC staff’s analysis of strategies to minimize radiological releases from Mark I and II boiling water reactors, including the filtering of containment vents.