Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

Another large water leak at Fukushima Daiichi that may have reached the ocean and further efforts by politicians to restart shuttered Japanese reactors highlighted the nuclear news from Japan last week.

Among the recent developments related to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant severely damaged last year:

Fukushima Daiichi water leak. Source: TEPCODisconnected Hose Releases 12 Metric Tons of Contaminated Water

Another leak from the plant's complex water treatment system likely allowed radioactive water to reach the sea Thursday. A hose that became disconnected is believed to have leaked for about two hours, discharging an estimated 12 metric tons of water into a canal draining to the ocean, according to Japan Today. Although partially treated, TEPCO told news organizations the water contained strontium-90. The Asahi Shimbun reported a worker found the leak at 1:05 a.m. Crews stopped the equipment, placed sandbags around the leak and closed a valve, stopping the leak at about 2:20 a.m.

Safety Guidelines Drafted to Persuade Local Officials to Restart Oi Reactors

Early this week, legislative gridlock caused the Japanese government to abandon an attempt to replace its existing and highly distrusted nuclear regulatory agencies with a new oversight body. To allay the concerns of local governments blocking the restart of reactors around the country, the Daily Yomiuri reported, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda then asked his existing regulators to quickly draft a provisional set of new safety regulations informed by the Fukushima accident.

Reactors in Japan, all but one of which are now idle, have undergone special inspections and “stress tests,” but local political opposition to restarting the plants remains stalwart. The urgency for the new recommendations stems from a demand by Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa. He has conditioned his approval for the restart of reactors at the Oi plant on receiving new safety criteria based on the accident. In response, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency drew up a 30-item list of safety measures this week, including additional emergency power and reactor modifications. If the Oi reactors are not restarted by the end of the month, the Kansai region is expected to face significant power shortages.

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