Under the new rules, power plants will need to have more than a single access to the external grid power and to install enhanced filters to prevent contamination from being released if the reactors need to be vented due to a dangerous buildup of pressure.U.S. regulators, for example, require nuclear plants to have at least two connections to the external power grid. They require filters on some, but not all, venting valves and are weighing whether to adopt rules that would require expensive new filtering systems at 31 U.S. reactors with designs similar to Fukushima Daiichi.
The utilities also will have to plan how to deal with other types of risks previously not considered, such as a terrorist attack or a plane crash, proposing measures such as stronger buildings surrounding the reactor units and having critical backup systems at greater distance.
The new measures, which are subject to public comment, were issued Thursday by the new Nuclear Regulation Authority, set up in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident. The new body was created following criticism that the previous regulator, part of the energy ministry, was too close to the industry. Nuclear-power opponents say the agency’s work so far has shown that the previous cozy relationships, dubbed the “nuclear village,” are still in place.
Some experts said the new regulations sidestep many of the most important questions that will likely determine whether Japan will again have a heavy dependence on nuclear-generated electricity.
One key issue not yet addressed is how to determine whether a plant should be shut down because it sits on an “active” earthquake fault…..Another critical question for the utilities is whether additional equipment must all be installed immediately or over time, a question that could prompt some utilities to close older plants.
Antinuclear activist Takeshi Sakagami, who has been a regular attendee at NRA events and related expert-panel meetings since the agency began in July 2011, says the agency has been largely taken over by bureaucrats who want to restart Japan’s reactors. “Bureaucrats have been drafting the proposed rules and answering questions in the panel meetings,” he said. “It’s already back to the hands of the nuclear village members.”
He pointed out that the authority has held two sessions with power utilities in its discussions about reactor safety regulations, but so far none with residents from around Fukushima nor with antinuclear groups……