Thursday, June 09, 2011

Ways Forward – Japan, Yucca Mountain, The Industry

The Japanese government has released its report on the Fukushima accident, with the start of a timeline of events, a categorization and presentation of lessons learned, and, I thought, a proposed transformation of its regulatory structure to something far more rigorous (and a lot more like that in this country.) But there’s a lot to absorb here. Take a read and we’ll return to it in the days ahead.

The report will be presented at IAEA’s Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety on June 20.

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The US House Science Committee in a report on Wednesday blasted the Obama administration for terminating the long-planned Yucca Mountain national nuclear-waste repository with no scientific or technical justification.

The criticism is the latest to come from the Republican-led House, and is largely a reiteration of complaints heard from a House energy oversight committee last week.

That’s from Platts and they’re right – Congress has had a lot to say about Yucca Mountain lately. Here’s a bit from the executive summary to give you a sense of it:

The results of this review are striking. Despite numerous suggestions by political officials—including President Obama—that Yucca Mountain is unsafe for storing nuclear waste, the
Committee could not identify a single document to support such a claim. To the contrary, the Committee found great agreement among the scientific and technical experts responsible for
reviewing the suitability of Yucca Mountain—considered by many to be ―the most studied piece of land on Earth‖—that nuclear waste can be safely stored at the site for tens of thousands of years in accordance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) requirements.

You can find the whole report here.

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And the industry has unveiled its own response to events at Fukushima:

Three U.S. power-industry groups will set up a panel to run their own nuclear-nuclear-safety review as federal regulators probe Japan’s reactor crisis.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, the Electric Power Research Institute and the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations will unveil their plan today in Washington. About a dozen officials from the groups will serve on the “Fukushima steering committee,” said Tony Pietrangelo, the energy institute’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

That happened a little earlier today. Here is a document, called The Way Forward, explaining this in more detail here. The plan outlines seven strategic goals and six guiding principles. Here are the first two of the goals:

1. The nuclear workforce remains focused on safety and operational excellence at all plants, particularly in light of the increased work that the response to the Fukushima event will represent.
2. Timelines for emergency response capability to ensure continued core cooling, containment integrity and spent fuel storage pool cooling are synchronized to preclude fuel damage following station blackout.

And the principles:

1. Ensure equipment and guidance, enhanced as appropriate, result in improvements in response effectiveness.
2. Address guidance, equipment and training to ensure long-term viability of safety improvements.
3. Develop response strategies that are performance-based, risk-informed and account for unique site characteristics.
4. Maintain a strong interface with federal regulators to ensure regulatory actions are consistent with safety significance and that compliance can be achieved in an efficient manner.
5. Coordinate with federal, state and local government and their emergency response organizations on industry actions to improve overall emergency response effectiveness.
6. Communicate aggressively the forthright approach the U.S. industry is taking to implement the lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Read the whole thing. We’ll have more on this later.

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