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Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan Earthquake launch page:

New Filters Remove Radiation from Seawater

Updated as of 3 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, June 15

Plant Status

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has begun full operation of seawater filtering systems near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Installed near the water intakes of reactors 2 and 3, the filters absorb radioactive cesium then return the water to the ocean. Tests indicate the system reduces cesium levels by 20 percent to 30 percent. TEPCO is seeking ways to increase the filtering capability.
  • Japan's health ministry has ordered TEPCO to release from duty 23 workers who had been exposed internally to more than 10 rem (100 millisieverts) of radiation early in the accident. The ministry took the precaution because the employees' continued work at the facility could result in exposure beyond the temporary 25 rem (250 mSv) limit. The limit was raised in March from 10 rem (100 mSv) to the emergency level of 25 rem. TEPCO said earlier that two workers were exposed to more than 60 rem (600 mSv) and announced on Monday that six more were believed to have been exposed to up to 50 rem (500 mSv). TEPCO is screening 3,700 workers for exposure.
  • TEPCO has completed tests on a U.S.-made system that will be used to absorb radioactive cesium from water that has accumulated in various locations at the Fukushima Daiichi site and has also begun tests of a French-manufactured water-treatment device. The company plans to begin full operation of the systems by Friday. More than 105,000 tons of radioactive water has accumulated at the facility. The U.S.-based water treatment system is from Kurion Inc. and the French system is from AREVA.
  • Inspection of farmland in the no-entry zone around Fukushima Daiichi will begin next month. Rice planting has been suspended within an 18.5-mile radius of the plant and no agricultural products are being shipped from within the no-entry zone. Government officials will study soil in the area in response to concerns from residents who have inquired about the status of their farmland.
  • TEPCO plans to install rooftop vents for the seven reactor buildings at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear energy facility in north central Japan. The vents are designed to prevent hydrogen from building up during an emergency. Hydrogen build-up caused explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi facility in March.

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission conducted a briefing today on the progress of the short-term task force reviewing NRC processes and regulations following the events in Japan. Slides prepared for the briefing said that capabilities already in place for dealing with potential large fires and explosions could be useful for other events, such as station blackout conditions. The near-term task force will recommend actions and propose topics for longer-term review at a July 19 commission meeting.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold an oversight hearing June 16 on preliminary results of the NRC's safety review at America's nuclear energy facilities. Witnesses include all five NRC commissioners.

Media Highlights

  • Doug Walters, NEI's vice president of regulatory affairs, participated in an extensive interview this week with Voice of America's "Voice of Russia," which focused on U.S. nuclear plant safety in light of the events at Fukushima Daiichi. Walters analyzed the accident in Japan and provided a status update on the ability of U.S. nuclear plants to cope with a similar situation.

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