Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:

Japanese Government Reduces Radiation Release Estimate

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

• The Japan Nuclear Safety Commission has cut its estimate of radioactive substances released by Fukushima Daiichi between March 12 and April 5 by 10 percent. The new estimate is based on recently released data on radiation levels at monitoring posts and the amount of radioactive material in the air.

• The Japanese government is set to decide on a decontamination plan for the Fukushima prefecture that would cut radiation levels in residential areas by nearly half over two years. Work will include cleaning drainpipes, pruning plants and weeding gardens, washing roofs, removing surface soil, and cleaning the joints in asphalt roads.

• Twelve U.S. nuclear energy facilities declared “unusual events” and one an “alert” following the Tuesday afternoon earthquake centered in Virginia. All twelve facilities have since exited unusual event status. The alert at Virginia’s North Anna facility was called when the magnitude 5.8 temblor cut outside power to the plant. The facility’s two reactors safely shut down. During the outage, diesel generators provided power for reactor cooling and other systems, as they are designed to do. Normal power for the facility has been restored and the alert has been dropped. The facility remains in an unusual event status. An unusual event is the lowest of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s four emergency classifications; an alert is the second-lowest. After earthquakes, safety inspections are conducted by the companies before reactors return to service.

Plant Status

• In an effort to improve effectiveness of reactor cooling operations at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility, Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to shift to a different process to cool reactor 3. It will reroute some of the water injection pathway from the feedwater system to the core spray system. This is being done to increase the potential for the core to directly get more coolant.

New Products

• A new interactive graphic on NEI’s Safety First website explains the nuclear fuel cycle, from mining uranium to storing spent fuel.

Media Highlights

R&D magazine’s online edition discusses a new report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on lessons that can be learned from the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. The report is based on analysis of events at the nuclear energy facility by MIT’s Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering.

• The International Atomic Energy Agency will conduct at least one safety inspection in every country with nuclear facilities over the next three years, Reuters reports.

Upcoming Events

• Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will conduct a public meeting at 1 p.m. Aug. 31 to hear comments on the recommendations of the agency’s near-term Japan task force. According the meeting’s agenda, the staff will propose which of the task force recommendations the commission should act on without “unnecessary delay.”

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