Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

Tokyo Electric Power Co. installed a new thermometer in the reactor pressure vessel of Fukushima Daiichi unit 2 this week, while the resumption of construction was announced at the Oma plant and government factions debated their role in authorizing the restart of idled reactors.

Recent developments related to last year's tsunami-triggered accidents at Fukushima include:

Unit 2 RPV thermometer installation diagram. Source: TEPCORPV Thermometer Installed

On Tuesday and Wednesday, workers installed a new thermometer at the bottom of unit 2's damaged RPV. The Asahi Shimbun reported that five of six thermometers failed at the bottom of the unit, where much of its fuel is believed to have melted. The installation involved attaching a cylinder to a pipe that injects a boric acid solution into the reactor. Workers then threaded the thermometer through the pipe and about 10 meters inside the RPV. Its first readings placed the temperature at 42.6 C, TEPCO reported, which is similar to the reading from the other functioning thermometer.

Construction to Resume on Oma Reactor

On Sept. 28, Japanese media reported that Electric Power Development Co. (J-Power) plans to resume construction on its MOX-fueled GE-Hitachi Advanced Boiling Water Reactor at Oma. The Fukushima crisis halted construction at the plant. And while Japan's new energy policy would phase out nuclear power and end the licensing of new reactors, an exception was made for the partially built plant. J-Power's president confirmed the construction plans at a meeting Monday in Oma town. Many residents expressed support, but the mayor of a neighboring city said he would seek an injunction to stop the project.

New Nuclear Agency Won't Give Final Word on Reactor Restarts

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and the newly instituted Nuclear Regulation Authority recently found themselves at odds over which body would make the final decision on restarting the country's idled reactors. While Noda said initially that the NRA would take the lead, Kyodo reported that the agency's board decided Wednesday to assess reactor safety from a scientific standpoint only while refraining from judgments on restarts. That means the government, based on power demand or other factors, could still deny requests to restart reactors deemed safe by the NRA.

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