Although the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan compiled revised guidelines for nuclear plant safety on March 22, there is no timetable for the changes as the government has given up on establishing a new nuclear regulatory agency from April 1.
The NSC proposal has suggestions for revisions in three areas: safety design inspections, anti-quake design inspections and disaster management.
Because all electric power sources at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were knocked out by the tsunami generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake, the guidelines for safety design inspections call for the installation of alternative power sources above and beyond the installation of emergency generators.
The revised proposal for anti-quake design inspections includes a scenario for possible quakes and tsunami based on not only the conditions near nuclear plants, but also makes reference to major incidents that have taken place around the world.
The proposal calls for measures to prevent water from flooding plant facilities in the event of a tsunami hitting the plant that exceeds the maximum height included in the scenario.
Under the proposed changes to disaster management guidelines, the area for concentrated disaster management was expanded from a radius of 8 to 10 kilometers from a nuclear plant to a radius of 30 kilometers. An area in a radius of 5 kilometers from a plant would be evacuated immediately after any accident that may occur at the plant.
The government of Yoshihiko Noda had initially hoped to have the new nuclear regulatory agency established on April 1, so it could compile new safety standards based on the NSC recommendations. The initial plan called for implementing the new safety standards at all nuclear plants in Japan by the summer of 2013.
However, Diet deliberations have not yet begun on legislation to establish the new nuclear regulatory agency. Although the government has abandoned plans to establish the new agency on April 1, there is also no guarantee that the legislation will even pass the current Diet session.
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