• Although the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan ran a nuclear-neutral campaign, they are beginning to show some pronuclear colors. The draft of the coalition between the LDP and the largely-Buddhist New Komeito Party includes the allowance of reactor restarts, given one very important qualification – the Nuclear Regulatory Authority must approve the resumption of operation first. The draft coalition manifesto states, “restarting will be based on the expert judgment of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which pursues the safety-first principle in line with international standards.” The LDP has said they will try and get as many nukes restarted as the NRA allows over the next three years. (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • LDP party chief Shinzo Abe said the new government will thoroughly review the cause of the Fukushima accident. During a Fiji television program appearance Abe said, “The root cause of the (nuclear) accident was not fully uncovered so there is a need to make clear whether this was a man-made disaster or not. As a government, we want to once again analyze why Fukushima Daiichi failed. Could it have been avoided? Was it a man-made disaster? As a government, we must study that.” No time-frame for the new probe was disclosed. This could mean yet another lengthy, formal investigation in addition to the five that already exist. Abe also said he will push the Diet to formalize the appointments to the NRA and begin the procedures as soon as the new congress meets. (Kyodo News Service; Japan Today; Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Shinzo Abe also said the government must review the current policy of not allowing new nukes to be built. He explained the decision on new nuke builds will be determined by the country’s future energy mix as it develops over the next 10 years. The current policy of not starting any new nuclear construction was created by the Democratic Party of Japan under Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. Currently, three nukes are under construction and nine more are in the planning stage. On Sunday, LDP chief Shinzo Abe visited Tabuse Town, and responded to local queries about the proposed nuclear plant to be built in the nearby town of Kaminoseki. He said he respects the Prefecture’s decision to freeze extension of the construction permit pending the new NRA safety regulations. The initial permit expired in October. Prefectural governor Nii said there is no reason to extend the construction permit until new safety standards are in place. (Kyodo News Service; Mainichi Shimbun; NHK World)
  • The Mainichi Shimbun is calling for a re-evaluation of the possibility of seismic faults for all nuclear power stations in the country. The demand is based on the NRA’s recent conclusion of active faults running near and/or under the Tsuruga and Higashidori stations. The Mainichi says this proves the electric utility companies in Japan did not sufficiently examine the Earth’s crust before building their nukes, and the old government regulators (NISA) failed as well. Thus, none of the nuclear plants in Japan can be currently judged as safe relative to potential worst-case earthquakes. Tohoku Electric, owner of the Higashidori station, claims the geologic anomaly under the power station was created by underground water swelling the formation and causing it to severely crack. Thus, it cannot be seismic. The NRA totally disagrees. The Mainichi openly distrusts what any nuclear utility says. The paper adds that all members of the NRA’s quake assessment team come from academic societies and are necessarily neutral on the issue. The Mainichi also says another allegedly-active fault runs near the currently under-construction Oma plant, so all work there should be stopped until the NRA finishes its investigation. Further, the spent fuel reprocessing plant on the Shimokita Peninsula should be shuttered until the NRA can examine all geologic cracks in the region. The Mainichi says, “Now that the past safety assessment of the Higashidori plant has been called into question, the NRA should re-examine all faults and the crustal structure of the Shimokita Peninsula as a whole.” (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Tokyo’s suburban city of Higashimurayama will provide free testing of foods for radioactive Cesium in January. The City won a lottery-type draw for a radiation analyzer from the Consumer Affairs Agency and will put it in operation as soon as possible. The testing will be done jointly with a citizen’s group called Geiger Higashimurayama. The items to be tested will be limited to home-grown crops as well as meats and produce bought from local retailers. The food must be finely-chopped or processed in a blender before it will be analyzed. The technology has a minimum detectability of 10 Becquerels per kilogram. Liquids cannot be tested. The city says they do not expect any items to exceed national standards, but hopes the testing will abate resident’s anxieties concerning their foods. This is the second Tokyo suburb to offer such food testing, the first being Kunitachi earlier this year. (Mainichi Shimbun)

The 136th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers has been posted at the Atomic Power Review website. This week’s topics include: nuclear cyber-security, the moderating effect nuclear plants have on New England, countering the arguments of climate-change skeptics within the nuclear community, a listing of free on-line sites for nuclear energy information, why nuclear energy is chosen as the culprit in end-of-the-world scenarios, and celebrating the 70th anniversary of the first nuclear reactor in the world. The full listing and links to all the blogs posted can be found here… http://atomicpowerreview.blogspot.com/