CommentaryJapan’s historical lack of safety upgrades amplifies – click here.

  • The head of Japan’s new regulatory group, the NRA, says their forthcoming standards will bring Japan’s nuclear program up to international levels of safety. Chairman Shuichi Tanaka said “The existing safety standards fall short of international levels. We’ve aimed to make new ones comparable internationally and also come up with good ones taking into account Japan’s geological characteristics.” He added that existing standards lacked the foundation for adequate disaster prevention measures and severe accident management. Tanaka also asks the Japanese nuclear electric companies if their already-performed “stress tests” take into account external forces beyond those traditionally accounted for, “But our argument is: what if there were an external force five times as much?” Finally, Tanaka said he now understands his group has the authority to allow restarts of nukes that meet the new standards, but has only limited power to shutter those that do not. He made this point as he elaborated on questions concerning the controversy surrounding the two operating nukes at the Oi nuclear station, “So far, we understand the Oi plant is not exposed to any imminent danger. But the more we move on, the more cases we will clarify which do not meet (the new standards). Then, we’ll order utilities to make changes necessary to comply.” The new safety regulations are expected to be developed by next July, which Tanaka says should prevent a repeat of the F. Daiichi accident. (Japan Today)
  • The European Union (EU) has eased their import restrictions on Japanese food products caused by fear of Fukushima accident contamination. The constraints relative to 10 Prefecture’s exports, including Tokyo, have been affected. Restrictions will remain for tea and mushrooms from Shizuoka, mushrooms from Yamanashi, and, tea, mushrooms, fish, rice, soybeans, some wild grasses, vegetables and fruits from the eight other Prefectures. All items from Fukushima Prefecture remain under the ban. All shipped products must come with an analysis report to prove that radioactive Iodine and Cesium levels are below EU standards. The EU also eased their requirement that 10-20% of all shipped items must be tested. It is now only 5%. Calls to ease the restrictions have been received by the EU since New Zealand lifted all import restrictions on Japanese foodstuffs last summer. (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • One Japanese utility says they fear a power shortfall this winter. Hokkaido Electric Company reports demand for electricity may be more than 10% greater than they can generate, especially if problems occur with their thermal (fossil-fueled) plants. The power line between northern Honshu and Hokkaido has limited capacity, so making up the difference from Japan’s main island will be unlikely. Tokyo is considering extending a voluntary power conservation notice for Hokkaido customers. Hokkaido, Japan’s northern-most major island, experiences the country’s coldest, snowiest winters. Tokyo says there would be no power shortage issues if it were not for the moratorium on nuclear power plant operation. (Kyodo News Service)

The 127th Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers has been posted at ANS Nuclear Café. Thus week’s topics include; the possibility that Fukushima Daiichi unit #1 did not experience a “melt-through”, increased the electrical output at Bruce NPS, a salute to the use of radiation in detecting and treating breast cancer, new nuclear plant start-ups around the world for 2012, the constitutionality of tax-lawsuits concerning Vermont Yankee, and a comparison between the “wastes” of nuclear power versus those generated by solar plants. The full list and related links can be found by clicking the following link…