Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has planned a public meeting on changes to its regulatory framework, while in Japan TEPCO faces accusations of putting its workers at Fukushima at risk.

Developments in the last week related to the nuclear plant severely damaged in last year's Japanese earthquake and tsunami include:

Recently repaired ductwork in Fukushima unit 2 gas control system. Source: TEPCONRC Schedules Meeting on US Regulatory Changes

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday announced a meeting Nov. 8 to outline agency proposals for a revised "regulatory framework" – one of the broadest recommendations of the agency's post-Fukushima task force. Specifically, the task force recommended “establishing a logical, systematic and coherent regulatory framework for adequate protection that appropriately balances defense-in-depth and risk considerations.” The NRC staff was directed to provide recommendations for regulatory changes to that end by February. The meeting, webcast and teleconference next week at NRC headquarters also will address the regulatory framework proposals by a different task force led by NRC Commissioner George Apostolakis.

Complaint Alleges TEPCO and Contractor Put Workers in Danger

A contract worker at Fukushima early in the crisis filed a complaint with Japan's labor standards office on Tuesday. In it he alleged that a group of workers were not informed of high radiation levels and flooding they experienced while laying cables in the unit 3 turbine building. He told the Associated Press that he was not informed that they would be walking through irradiated water in the unit, which had experienced a hydrogen explosion ten days earlier. Two workers experienced beta burns wearing boots that were too short and became soaked. The complainant was reported to have received a dose of about 20 millisieverts over 13 days at the plant. An earlier government report said three others working with him in unit 3 were exposed to 180 millisieverts. Lawyers representing the man and other workers argued that TEPCO and contractor Kandenko sent the men inadequately protected into areas that exceeded legal dose limits. In reply, a TEPCO spokesman said that, at the time, it hadn't anticipated the flooding in Unit 3.

Japanese Government Finds Inaccurate Dose Tracking

On Tuesday, an investigation by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare reported 19 violations of dose tracking requirements at the site, the Asahi Shimbun reported. Investigators found procedure errors, erroneous data input and cases where workers wore only one of two required dosimeters. The ministry screened 1,813 workers who had recorded monthly doses exceeding 5 millisieverts. The report followed the disclosure by TEPCO in August that it found 27 cases of inadequate dose control, which itself followed an incident where workers attempted to lower dosimeter readings using lead plates.

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