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Monday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:

Japan to Lift Evacuation Advisories for 5 Municipalities

Sept. 26, 2011

Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

  • Japan’s government will lift evacuation advisories for five municipalities between the 12-mile to 19-mile advisory zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility, said Tadahiro Matsushita, senior vice minister for economy, trade and industry. Residents in the advisory zone were asked either to evacuate or remain indoors. About half of the residents chose to evacuate, and they will be allowed to begin returning to their homes.
  • The Japanese government last week provided the IAEA General Conference with its second report on progress made by TEPCO and the government to recover from the Fukushima accident. The report outlines lessons learned since the company submitted its first report in June. It also describes longer-term responses to the accident at the plant site and in the neighboring region.
  • Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, meeting for the first time with Japan’s parliament, said decisions on building new nuclear energy facilities will be considered on a case-by-case basis and incorporate local public opinion. The new government is reviewing its overall energy policy, including the role of nuclear energy.
  • At the United Nations general assembly in New York last week, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon provided the delegates with a summary of the U.N. systemwide study on the implications of the Fukushima accident. The summary proposes some follow-up actions, including an assessment of the environmental and health effects of the accident. A task force will report its findings to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. Japan will co-host with the IAEA a second international conference next year to share results of the overall assessment of the accident and recommend measures to be taken by the international community to enhance nuclear safety standards.

Plant Status

  • Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has asked TEPCO to check whether hydrogen is building up at Fukushima Daiichi reactors 2 and 3. Last week, TEPCO detected hydrogen in a pipe leading to the containment vessel of reactor 1. The company said it would measure levels of hydrogen in all three reactors before injecting nitrogen and taking other measures to prevent hydrogen ignition.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. has released a video containing footage taken at different locations around the Fukushima Daiichi site. The clips show various activities the company is undertaking at the facility, including the installation of the cover being built around reactor 1, radiation monitoring, and operation of water purification systems.

New Products

Media Highlights

  • Dow Jones, NHK Today and The Wall Street Journal have reported on the efforts by TEPCO to begin compensating evacuees for damages related to the Fukushima Daiichi accident. Among the categories for which people are eligible for compensation are evacuation costs, loss of income, costs of radiation testing and mental suffering.
  • The Associated Press and others have reported on low levels of cesium contamination being found in Japan’s rice crop. Of samples tested in more than 400 locations in Fukushima prefecture, one sample was found contain cesium at 500 becquerels per kilogram, equivalent to the government-approved consumption limit. The highest contamination level previously found was 136 becquerels per kilogram.
  • Reuters reports on the re-election of a pro-nuclear mayor in the western Japanese town of Kaminoseki. Mayor Shigemi Kashiwabara supports Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s plan to build a new nuclear energy facility in the region. His opponent, who wanted the plan scrapped, was defeated in the election.

Upcoming Events

  • NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko will speak Oct. 5 at a National Journal event on the global implications of the Japan nuclear accident.
  • The NRC commissioners will be briefed in a public meeting Oct. 11 on prioritization of long-term recommendations from its Japan task force. The briefing will be webcast.

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