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Weekly Japan Update

The Fukushima updates are moving to a weekly schedule beginning today and continuing each Monday. Additional updates will be issued as needed to cover developing events.

Japan: Full Decontamination Efforts Will Begin in March

December 12, 2011

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • TEPCO said it will receive accident insurance from a Swiss company that will replace a consortium of insurers that will not renew its policies with the utility. TEPCO will pay about $258 million for a five-year policy, about 10 times the amount it paid to the consortium. The policy will cover claims related to Fukushima Daiichi.
  • Japan’s Environment Ministry said that a full-fledged effort to decontaminate areas with high radiation will not begin until at least March, as the ministry must receive permission from affected landowners and must acquire temporary sites at which to store contaminated soil.
  • Concentrations of cesium-137 in the ocean near Fukushima Daiichi peaked at 50 million times above normal, a study by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Society found. However, the study said that the radiation diluted rapidly and poses little or no danger to human and marine life.

Media Highlights

  • A USA TODAY/Gallup poll found that 70 percent of Americans have become more concerned about the safety of nuclear energy because of the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. The poll found that 44 percent favor building new facilities, down from 57 percent from the last poll taken before the accident.
  • The Mainichi Daily News wrote in an editorial that carrying out decontamination work as an international project will be beneficial to Japan and the rest of the world. “There is bound to be technology and expertise abroad that we do not have in Japan,” the editorial said. “If we are able to take advantage of them, the work will proceed more efficiently. In return, Japan should be able to pass on the knowledge and lessons learned from the Fukushima crisis to the rest of the world.”

New Products

  • An article on NEI’s Safety First website outlines the response to the March 11 earthquake at the Fukushima Daini plant and details three key lessons the plant operator learned from the experience.

Upcoming Meetings

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will hold four public meetings this week to discuss with industry representatives proposals to implement individual recommendations from the NRC’s Japan near-term task force. Meeting agendas and further details on each meeting are available on a special NRC webpage.
  • The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee holds a hearing Dec. 15 titled “Review of the NRC’s Near-Term Task Force Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century."

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