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Friday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:

NRC Commissioners Deny Groups’ Petition to Suspend New Reactor Licensing

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

• Commissioners at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today denied a request by several groups to suspend licensing and standardized design certification decisions pending completion of the NRC Fukushima Task Force evaluation of the implications of the Fukushima accident. The commissioners also denied a petition to suspend hearings and opportunities for public comment on reactor or used fuel pool issues identified for investigation by the task force. The commissioners granted the groups’ request for a safety analysis of regulatory implications of the events in Japan, incorporating stakeholder input into the process.

• New Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda visited the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility on Thursday. He expressed gratitude to workers who are stabilizing the facility, according to a BBC report. Noda credited workers with reducing the levels of radiation in waste water inside the plant by a factor of 10 million since the accident. In talks later that day with the governor of Fukushima Prefecture, Noda pledged funding for decontaminating areas with high radiation.

Plant Status

• Japanese researchers have revised estimates of the radioactivity in seawater near Japan as a result of the accident, adding releases that initially were airborne but have since been deposited in the sea. The resulting number, 15,000 terabecquerels (405,000 curies), is three times TEPCO’s earlier estimate, which included only releases directly to water. The new estimates do not reflect any change in the total amount of radiation believed to have been released as a result of the accident. Throughout the event, the Japanese government has conducted ongoing monitoring of the ocean water and seafood near Fukushima Daiichi. When government action limits were exceeded in April, the government restricted fishing along the coast near Fukushima Daiichi, placing a specific restriction on the consumption of one type of fish (sand lance) that was found to have radiation levels in excess of the government action limit. Although levels of radioactivity in ocean water and fish are currently not detectable, the restrictions remain in place.

Upcoming Events

• The Nippon Foundation will hold an international symposium on radiation and health risks Sept. 11-12, 2011, at Fukushima Medical University. Participants will include radiation experts from 14 nations, the World Health Organization and the International Atomic Energy Agency. The symposium will get under way at 9 a.m. Tokyo time on Sept. 11 and will be broadcast via Ustream.

• The NRC commissioners will be briefed on short-term actions recommended in its Japan task force report in a Sept. 14 public meeting. The meeting will be webcast.

• The NRC commissioners will be briefed on prioritization of recommendations from its Japan task force in an Oct. 11 public meeting. The briefing will be webcast.

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