Thursday, January 26, 2012

BRC Releases Final Report; Japan Invites in IAEA

oi-nuclear-power-plantI’d give you a link to the final report of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future at its site at brc.gov, but that has been flooded and is not responsive. But NEI has you covered. Go here to get a copy of the report.

The BRC says the report hews pretty closely to the draft report released last summer – our coverage of that is here with some useful links. We’ll have lots more to say about the final report, I’m sure, but for now, reading glasses on.

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The Japanese government has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency to stop by and double check the stress tests it has been conduction on its fleet. Specifically, the Japanese want the IAEA to visit Oi, its third largest nuclear facility. Why have the IAEA do this?

Seeking to assuage public misgivings about nuclear-plant safety, government and nuclear industry officials have sought to use "stress tests" that gauge resilience to natural disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis. The invitation to the IAEA is part of Japan's campaign to validate those tests.

And there’s this, too:

Oi's four reactors have become a focal point in Japan's debate over nuclear energy as the hot and humid summer, with its seasonal peak in electricity demand, draws nearer. Kansai Electric, which supplies power to Kyoto and Osaka in western Japan, relies on its three nuclear plants for more than 40% of the electricity it generates. Oi alone provides about 20%.

Those are actually two different things – getting the plants running to stave off blackouts and regaining public trust. How the government will know that it done the latter is not mentioned in the story, but I guess polling and the opinions of the elected leaders in the towns around Oi and other facilities will act as the gauges.

“The stress tests as currently designed don't seem to factor in the type of worst-case scenario we saw in Fukushima," Mr. [Ryozo] Tatami, the mayor of Maizuru said. "We need evidence Oi's reactors will be safe even if a [Fukushima-scale] tsunami strikes because vague assurances just raise too many doubts in our minds."

Maizuru is about 18 miles from Oi.

One can have an opinion about this approach – it sounds like one the Japanese put stock into, which is good – and about whether Japan should or shouldn’t reopen its facilities – simply, yes – but whether it does or not, whatever the consequences, is up to its people. There’s nothing for us to do but wait and see – and respect the outcome.

The Washington Post has an interesting article about the Japanese decision making approach and its impact on reopening its nuclear facilities here. Long story short: the Japanese really like a broad consensus. Worth a read for insight into how another culture deals with big issues.

The Oi nuclear facility. If you say it enough times, you sound like an annoyed Brit.

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