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Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page:

Update as of 3 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, June 8

Plant Status

  • Highly radioactive debris and water continue to hamper recovery efforts at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. TEPCO had removed about 280 containers of radioactive debris by Tuesday, which includes clearing the way for entry into the building for reactor 3. Now that workers can enter the building, TEPCO plans to inject nitrogen gas into the reactor 3 containment to stabilize the reactor.
  • Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said fuel rods in reactors 1 and 2 at Fukushima Daiichi began to be exposed sooner after the accident began than previously estimated. NISA said cooling water levels fell below the top of uranium fuel inside reactor 1 two hours after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disabled the facility's cooling systems. In a separate estimate, NISA said that between 800 and 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen was produced in each of reactors 1, 2 and 3 after the fuel rods were damaged. Shortly after the accident began, hydrogen was ignited in each of those containment buildings.

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

  • The NRC this week issued results of inspections conducted as part of the agency's post-Fukushima short-term task force. The inspections found that all 104 U.S. nuclear reactors have implemented voluntary severe accident management guidelines, developed in the late 1990s to enhance their ability to protect the public even if accidents were to damage the reactor core.
  • The NRC commissioners will receive a progress report from the task force that is reviewing NRC processes and regulations following events in Japan in a public meeting on June 15. The task force has been examining short-term issues for two months and will issue its final report in July, when a new study will begin to address long-term issues.
  • Ed Halpin, president and chief executive officer at South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co., is scheduled to speak in Paris today at a meeting on nuclear safety of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Yesterday, representatives of 30 nations called for stringent stress tests of the world's nuclear reactors to help prevent an accident like the one at Fukushima Daiichi. Delegates agreed on the need for international cooperation in the event of a serious accident but stopped short of recommending cross-border inspection programs.
  • A Japanese government report lists 28 lessons the government has learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Written for a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency later this month, the report includes the following categories: preventive measures against a severe accident, measures against severe accidents, nuclear emergency response, safety infrastructure and safety culture.
  • Japan's nuclear regulator has asked nuclear facility operators across the country to report on their plans for response to potential Fukushima-like accidents. Proposed measures include having portable lights, communication equipment and generator trucks on hand. The deadline for submitting the plans is June 14.
Media Highlights
  • Japanese officials are debating what constitutes a safe radiation exposure level for people who live near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility, The New York Times reports.
  • The Financial Times examined the possible international response to the Fukushima Daiichi events in a full-page report on June 7.
Upcoming Events
  • A news conference to announce the creation of a U.S. nuclear energy industry leadership structure that will coordinate ongoing industry response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident will be held at 1:30 p.m. June 9 at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.

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