THE WORLD’S NUCLEAR NEWS AGENCY
Tepco Completes Installation Of Cover at Fukushima-Daiichi Unit 1
1 Nov (NucNet): One of the crippled reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan now has a cover in place that will help lower radioactive emissions, operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has said.
Tepco has been building the casing for the plant’s number one reactor since June. The reactor building had been damaged by a hydrogen explosion following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the plant.
Installation of the cover was completed on 28 October, Tepco said in a statement. The cover is 54 metres high, 47 metres wide and 42 metres deep. It has a ventilation system that filters out radioactive substances.
Tepco said that during pilot tests, the system removed more than 90 percent of radioactive caesium from the reactor.
The company says the cover will allow it to move nearer to its goal of containing radioactive emissions from the reactor.
Tepco is considering installing similar covers for units 3 and 4, although work cannot start until all debris has been removed, probably during the summer of 2012. Both reactor buildings were damaged by the explosions.
Tepco also said that on 31 October workers reduced the amount of water injection to unit 1 in order to improve the working environment inside the new cover.
The main goal of the work being carried out at the plant is establishing stable cooling and bringing the reactors to a state of cold shutdown.
Three of the Fukushima-Daiichi plant’s six boiling water reactors were in commercial operation at the time of the earthquake and tsunami, and all three suffered damaged reactor cores and partial fuel meltdown.
Russia In Line To Become Latest Member Of NEA
26 Oct (NucNet): Russia is likely to join the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), following an official announcement from the Paris-based organisation that it has applied for membership.
The NEA said Russia would become the first non-member of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development to join its nuclear agency.
The NEA steering committee for nuclear energy has always backed Russian participation, “notably because of the country's sizable nuclear power programme and the mutual benefit that would ensue from such cooperation,” the NEA’s website says.
Russia has been involved in several NEA activities since the mid-1990s, with Russian experts participating as observers in NEA's nuclear installation safety committee and its nuclear regulatory activities committee.
In 2007 NEA signed a joint cooperation agreement with the country in order to foster research and innovative technology of nuclear activities.
IAEA Sets Up ‘Nuclear Safety Action Team’
27 Sept (NucNet): The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is setting up a nuclear safety action team to oversee “prompt implementation” of a nuclear safety action plan that was drawn up in the wake of the Fukushima-Daiichi accident in Japan.
The 12-point action plan, which was approved by the agency’s board of governors on 13 September 2011 and endorsed by all 151 member states last week, requires “immediate follow-up”, IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said.
The “compact, dedicated team” will work within the agency’s department of nuclear safety and security and will coordinate closely with the director-general’s office for policy.
The action plan says all IAEA member states undertake “a national assessment” of the design of nuclear power plants against “site-specific extreme natural hazards”.
It also says IAEA peer reviews should be strengthened, and that all member states should conduct “a prompt national review and thereafter regular reviews” of their emergency preparedness and response arrangements and capabilities.
Other plans include strengthening the effectiveness of regulators. This would include national reviews of regulatory bodies, including an assessment of their effective independence, adequacy of human and financial resources and the need for technical and scientific support.
The action plan also calls for the strengthening of IAEA safety standards and improvements in the effectiveness of the international legal framework such as the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management.
In a statement the IAEA said it has already started implementing its responsibilities under the action plan, including development of an IAEA methodology for stress tests for nuclear power plants. The methodology will be ready in October 2011.
The action plan was based on proposals put forward at a ministerial meeting on nuclear safety in June 2011. Ministers at that meeting suggested that all countries with nuclear facilities should carry out safety audits or “stress tests” based on initial feedback from the accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi.
Meanwhile, United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon has presented a UN “system-wide study” on the implications of the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi. The UN said the report includes views on how to improve disaster risk preparedness.
“Nuclear energy may well be the future for many nations, but it is important that we develop the strongest possible international safety standards,” Mr Ban said in a UN statement.