UPDATE AS OF 7:00 PM EDT, MARCH 23:
Commissioners at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Wednesday voted to launch a two-pronged review of U.S. nuclear power plant safety in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the resulting events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The commission supported the establishment of an agency task force that will conduct both short- and long-term analysis of the lessons that can be learned from the situation in Japan. The results of their work will be made public.
“The longer-term review will inform any permanent NRC regulation changes” that are needed, the NRC said. The commission said it expects that the task force can begin the long-term evaluation in no later than 90 days, and added that the task force should provide a report with recommended actions within six months of the beginning of that effort.
NRC inspectors at U.S. nuclear power plants will also support the task force’s short-term effort, supplemented as necessary by experts from the agency’s regional and headquarters offices, the NRC said.
“Examining all the available information from Japan is essential to understanding the event’s implications for the United States. We will perform a systematic and methodical review to see if there are changes that should be made to our programs and regulations to ensure protection of public health and safety,” NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said.
Smoke seen coming from the reactor building at reactor 3 on at 4:20 p.m. on Wednesday (Japan time) “decreased significantly,” the International Atomic Energy Agency said. On Wednesday, smoke from reactor 3 caused the temporary evacuation of workers from reactors 3 and 4.
Efforts are continuing to restore offsite electricity at reactors 1, 2, 3, and 4.
As reported earlier here, seawater injection continues to cool reactors 1, 2 and 3. Seawater is being sprayed into the reactor 3 spent fuel pool. Crews continued to use a truck to deliver high volumes of water into the spent fuel pool at reactor 4, IAEA said.