Nuclear regulators proposed new rules that would require backup control rooms at Japanese nuclear plants in response to the Fukushima Daiichi accidents, while the country's industry minister recently reiterated the government's commitment to spent fuel reprocessing.

Recent developments in Japan related to the accidents at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima plant include:

Regulator Proposes Backup Control Rooms

Among safety enhancements like filtered vents and on-site fire trucks, Japan's new nuclear regulatory agency has also proposed that plants build separate control rooms for use in an emergency. The Nuclear Regulation Authority released a draft outline of new safety measures late last week, the Asahi Shimbun reported, which will help inform new safety regulations due in July. The new rules mirror similar measures required in other countries, such as France, which required the construction of backup control rooms as part of $13 billion in safety upgrades announced last year.

Toshimitsu Motegi at Fukushima. Source: TEPCOMinister Stands by Reprocessing

On Thursday, Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said the newly elected government remains committed to the country's existing spent-fuel reprocessing policies, Kyodo reported. Motegi (pictured speaking at Fukushima Daiichi Wednesday) said he expects a long-delayed reprocessing facility in Aomori Prefecture will move forward as planned, and he said the region will still host the country's waste repository.

Seawater Leak at Unit 6

About 240 liters of seawater leaked onto the floor in Fukushima unit 6 Wednesday afternoon after a worker tried to close a sampling pipe connected to a component of the spent fuel cooling system. Water leaked from a flange for about two hours, and part of the spent fuel cooling system was briefly suspended while the leak was isolated, TEPCO said in a release. Offline at the time of the earthquake, units 5 and 6 did not experience core damage or large radiation releases during the crisis.