TEPCO Initiates Gas Sampling for Reactors 1, 2
• Workers at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility in Japan will begin sampling gases inside containment at reactors 1 and 2 to obtain more accurate data on the types and amount of radioactive substances being released. TEPCO hopes that analysis of the samples will help determine the extent to which nuclear fuel from the reactors is leaking into containment. The gases will be extracted through pipes and analyzed on the first floor of the reactor buildings. Radiation measurements thus far have been based on readings taken on the facility premises. Sampling is scheduled to begin today at reactor 1 and in early August at reactor 2. TEPCO has not yet made plans for sampling at reactor 3, where radiation levels remain high. This is because TEPCO only began injecting nitrogen into reactor 3 on July 15 to minimize the risk of a hydrogen explosion. Nitrogen injection into reactors 1 and 2 began in April and June.
• TEPCO plans to issue an updated roadmap to recovery at the Fukushima Daiichi facility in mid-August. Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues
• The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public meeting with stakeholders July 28 to discuss the agency’s near-term task force recommendations for safety enhancements at U.S. nuclear energy facilities after the Fukushima accident. Numerous stakeholders, including the industry, called for a thorough and methodical review of accident details as they become available so that regulatory actions are consistent with lessons learned. In the next several weeks, the five-member commission is expected to provide direction to the NRC staff on next steps.
• Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has ordered the governor of Miyagi Prefecture to suspend all shipments of beef cattle after levels of cesium above the government safety limit were detected in some cattle raised there. Miyagi is the second prefecture to have cattle shipments banned. Fukushima Prefecture received a suspension order last week.
• The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing Aug. 2 to review the NRC’s near-term task force recommendations for enhancing reactor safety. The witness list has not been announced.