The Energy Department’s National Laboratories and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are teaming up to simulate Japan’s Fukushima Daichii nuclear accident, hoping to learn more about the safety of reactor cores, according to administration officials. The reconstruction will use publicly available data from Tokyo Electric Power Company, and is expected to cost roughly $1.2 million.
Funds from DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy will support the work, Damien LaVera, press secretary for the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, told National Journal.
The joint research, announced in a memorandum of understanding obtained by NJ, is meant to help refine the accuracy of the government’s computer modeling of nuclear accidents. The reconstruction results will be compared to what the DOE’s computer codes predict for how reactor scores respond to accident conditions, said NRC spokesman Scott Burnell.
Since the accident in March, both Japan and Germany have taken steps away from their nuclear programs. But the Obama administration continues to support nuclear power as a crucial part of America’s energy mix. And the accident has put pressure on the administration to make U.S. nuclear safety a priority.
The NRC met on Tuesday to begin review of an NRC task force report analyzing lessons learned from Fukushima Daichii. NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said on Monday that he wants the commission to complete its review of the task force findings within 90 days, and for U.S. nuclear plants to implement the new safety recommendations within five years.
The NRC’s next public meeting is July 28. It will invite input from industry representatives and federal, state, and local governments.
This article appears in the July 20, 2011, edition of National Journal Daily PM Update.