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NRA approves decommissioning plan

August 15, 2013



NRA approves TEPCO's Fukushima decommissioning plan, urges solution for water problem



By JIN NISHIKAWA/ Staff Writer

The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plan to decommission damaged reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. But it called for a quick solution to the radioactive water accumulating at the site and flowing into the ocean.

The many safety problems that continue at the plant could compromise the feasibility of the decommissioning road map.

TEPCO’s decommissioning plan, which received NRA approval on Aug. 14, details methods and procedures concerning the monitoring of nuclear reactors and other facilities, the treatment of radioactive water and radiation dose control to ensure worker safety.

The plan says fuel extraction and other work will be completed early at the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors, which have officially been earmarked for decommissioning, and includes safety measures to keep the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, whose fate remains in limbo, in a state of cold shutdown.

The Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami of March 2011 caused meltdowns at the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that were running at the time.

The Nos. 4, 5 and 6 reactors were shut down for routine inspections when the disaster took place. Hydrogen explosions rocked the buildings housing the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 reactors.

The government and TEPCO have already worked out a road map, including work schedules, toward decommissioning the reactors. The latest document, called an “implementation plan,” is intended to lower the overall risk levels at plant facilities and ensure safety both on and off the plant site.

In November, the NRA gave special status to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant under the law on the regulation of nuclear reactors. The designation gave the NRA the power to order the submission of an implementation plan and improvements on plant facilities.

The NRA enlisted the participation of outside experts to screen the implementation plan TEPCO submitted in December. In approving the plan on Aug. 14, the NRA said the plan was adequate from the viewpoint of disaster prevention.

The Fukushima No. 1 plant, however, continues to be plagued by problems, including recent findings that radioactive water keeps leaking into the ocean.

With that situation in mind, the NRA presented a list of 12 problems that TEPCO must deal with. The NRA said, for example, that highly radioactive water should be removed quickly from underground pits on the ocean side of the plant site. It also said a new type of purification facility for treating radioactive water should be put into operation as soon as possible.


August 14, 2013

NRA approves TEPCO's reactor decommission plan



Japan's nuclear regulator has approved Tokyo Electric Power Company's plan to decommission its stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The approval came 5 months later than initially expected.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority in December started examining the plan, including specific procedures and safety measures. The work is expected to take about 40 years.

The authority accepted the plan in a meeting on Wednesday, despite commissioners' requests that Tokyo Electric properly handle treatment of contaminated water and removal of spent fuel.

The NRA commissioners also said the utility must do more to cope with leakage of radioactive water from the plant and contaminated groundwater into the sea.

NRA's approval schedule was pushed back due to a series of problems at the plant. They include longer-than-expected time to inspect a facility to remove radioactive substances from tainted water as well as handling of contaminated water leaks.

The authority plans to step up its monitoring of the firm's safety measures in the decommissioning procedure and order it to repeat safety steps until they are conducted properly.

Aug. 14, 2013 - Updated 08:52 UTC

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