Japanese Government Endorses Plan for New Nuclear Regulator
• Levels of radioactive cesium near the seawater intake area of Fukushima Daiichi reactors 2 and 3 have fallen below the safety limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported over the weekend.
• The Japanese cabinet has endorsed a plan to establish a new nuclear energy agency that would take over the regulatory functions of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which is now under the industry ministry that also promotes nuclear energy. The new agency, to be set up under the environment ministry, will also carry out the advisory functions of the Nuclear Safety Commission and the radiation monitoring functions now being performed by the science ministry. The government plans to launch the agency in April 2012.
• With more than 70 percent of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors shut down for inspections, energy companies are experiencing rising prices for conventional fuels used to produce electricity. As utility companies have compensated for the electricity shortfall by increasing the operation of their non-nuclear plants, the costs of oil, natural gas and other fuels have increased by up to 60 percent from the previous year.
• The Wall Street Journal reports on the loss of public confidence in Japan’s nuclear energy sector in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
• Authorities in Hungary have determined from a post-Fukushima review that the nation’s only nuclear power plant is safe to operate.
• The Arizona Republic on Sunday published an article examining the industry’s emergency response capabilities that would protect the public in the event of an incident at the Palo Verde nuclear energy facility.
• Answers from industry technical specialists to questions from the public on emergency diesel generators and reactor containments, among other topics, are available on the Ask an Expert section of NEI’s Safety First website.
• The Fukushima subcommittee of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards will hold a public meeting Aug. 16 to review the agency’s near-term task force report on the events at Fukushima.