5 Avril 2013
April 5, 2013
A team of experts at the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), which plans to implement new safety standards in July this year, decided on April 4 to postpone mandating nuclear plant operators to install special safety facilities for five years.
The new facilities will be designed as an alternative frontline base if the central control room loses its function due to terrorism attacks. The plant operators will have to build the new safety facilities at least 100 meters away from nuclear reactor buildings to potentially avoid both of them being damaged at the same time. These safety facilities are also required to have cooling systems for reactors that can be remotely controlled without the central control room properly functioning.
In the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant accident, the amount of radiation increased in areas around the reactor buildings after the hydrogen explosions, and that made the use of the central control room difficult because it was built next to the reactor buildings. For this reason, the NRA's team considered implementing the new facilities.
However, since the NRA's new safety standards will mandate plant operators to install mobile facilities immediately after the standards are implemented in July, it concluded that they can secure safety in the short term and decided to postpone mandating building the special facilities. The NRA will officially accept the team's proposal at its regular meeting on April 10. Nevertheless, it still seems difficult for plant operators to restart nuclear plants anytime soon because the new safety standards will also require them in July to reinforce fire, earthquake and tsunami prevention measures.