Friday, June 17, 2011

Friday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page:
Updated as of noon EDT, Friday, June 17
Plant Status

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff said it now appears the agency was mistaken in its early conclusion that the used fuel pool at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4 may have lost all cooling water. "According to the latest information, it is unlikely it ever went completely dry," said William Borchardt, NRC executive director for operations, in a progress briefing Wednesday for the NRC commissioners. Concern about the potential for overheating in the pool was a factor in the NRC's conservative call for U.S. citizens to evacuate as far as 50 miles from the plant, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko told a congressional committee yesterday. "We are continuing to review and re-evaluate the 50-mile recommendation," he said.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is preparing to release a revised "road map" today for stabilizing the Fukushima Daiichi site, with an increased emphasis on measures to protect the health of workers in light of new information that some received radiation doses above emergency limits set by the government. The revised plan restricts work hours, creates a system for recording automatically workers' exposure to radioactivity, increases the number of devices available to check for internal exposures, places more doctors at the site round the clock and creates new rest facilities for workers.
  • Testing was suspended yesterday on a system to remove radioactive cesium from waste water because of a leaking valve. Once the valve is replaced and tests are completed, TEPCO plans to put the system in service today. Full operation of the water treatment system is essential to TEPCO's plan to cool the reactors continuously. More than 110,000 tons of contaminated water has accumulated in the complex, and it is increasing at a rate of 500 tons a day as fresh water is poured onto the reactors. The main facility to store contaminated water reached capacity yesterday. Preparations are under way to build more storage tanks, next month at the earliest, and install a backup filtering device by August.
Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held an oversight hearing June 16 on preliminary results of the NRC's safety review at America's nuclear energy facilities. Witnesses included all five NRC commissioners.
  • China has completed post-Fukushima safety inspections at its 13 operating nuclear energy facilities and is moving ahead with inspections at the 28 facilities under construction, with the goal of completing that work by October. While no new plants will be authorized to start up before the inspections are completed, China has announced plans to move ahead with development of additional nuclear energy facilities, Li Ganjie of the Ministry of Environmental Protection told a visiting U.S. delegation on June 10. The nation hopes to have as many as 100 nuclear energy facilities operational by 2020 to help meet energy demand that is rising at an estimated 10 percent to 12 percent annually.
Upcoming Events
  • International Atomic Energy Agency ministerial conference on nuclear safety, June 20-24, Vienna, Austria.
  • Japan-America Society, "The Future of Nuclear Energy Around the World," June 23, Washington, D.C.
  • Recommendations from the NRC's post-Fukushima task force will be provided to the commission in a report in July. The staff is scheduled to discuss these recommendations with the commission at a public meeting on July 19. Next steps include forming a longer-term task force to address areas identified by the near-term task force. The longer-term review is expected to take approximately six months.

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