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Monday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:

NISA Says Stress Tests to Restart Reactors Will Take Months

July 25, 2011

Plant Status

• After a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck offshore from Fukushima in the early hours of July 25, Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported there were no problems with any of the systems used to stabilize the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi and no injuries. TEPCO checked the systems for water and nitrogen injection into reactors 1, 2 and 3, the water treatment facility, and the used fuel pool cooling systems for reactors 2 and 3.

• The Japan Atomic Industry Forum said temperatures at the bottom of Fukushima Daiichi reactor 1 have remained below 100 degrees Celsius (212 Fahrenheit) for six consecutive days through July 24. TEPCO says it achieved the lowered temperature by raising the amount of water injected into the reactor. The company has begun implementing step 2 of its recovery plan for the reactors, which includes maintaining temperatures at the bottom of reactors 1, 2 and 3 below 100 degrees Celsius. The stable operation of the circulatory water injection system is crucial to achieving that goal.

• TEPCO said a faulty circuit breaker was the cause of a five-hour loss of electrical power to reactors 3 and 4 July 22. Power for contaminated water treatment and for the reactors’ used fuel pool cooling was eventually restored via an alternate source. TEPCO says there was no major increase in the temperature of the pools. The company is working to improve switching systems among external power supplies.

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

• A July 28 public Nuclear Regulatory Commission meeting will focus on the agency’s near-term task force recommendations for safety enhancements at U.S. nuclear energy facilities after the Fukushima accident.

• International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano today toured the Fukushima Daiichi site, where he met with TEPCO personnel and gave an interview on location describing his visit. Amano is to meet Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and government ministers to discuss the outcomes of the June IAEA ministerial conference on nuclear safety.

• The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it will take months to complete the first of two-stage “stress tests” it has ordered all Japanese nuclear power reactor operators to conduct before shutdown reactors can restart. NISA said it does not anticipate any of the 22 reactors that were halted for regular safety checks to resume operations this summer. The tests involve computer simulations of the reactors’ responses to emergencies such as earthquakes, tsunamis and loss of off-site power.

• As TEPCO moves into the second stage of its recovery plan at Fukushima, the joint office it operates with the Japanese government to conduct and review its activities will be restructured. A new radiation and health management team will be established, and two other teams will be incorporated into a “medium-to-long term countermeasures” team.

Media Highlights

• The New York Times editorialized on July 24 on the U.S. response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The opinion piece discussed steps taken by the nuclear energy industry and recommendations made by the NRC’s Fukushima-focused task force.

Upcoming Events

• NEI will brief financial analysts in New York tomorrow on the status of the U.S. nuclear energy industry after the events at Fukushima Daiichi. The meeting will be webcast.

• The Foundation for Nuclear Studies will host a July 29 briefing and discussion on the status of Fukushima Daiichi for congressional staff in Washington, D.C. The briefing will be conducted by Lake Barrett, former NRC site director for Three Mile Island and former acting director of the DOE Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management.

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