Global Energy News Roundup: January 17

The Forum on Energy weekly news roundup brings together a mix of global energy stories from around the web. It is published every Thursday morning on Forum on Energy and is available on Twitter via @forumonenergy.

Murkowski to Discuss Nuclear Energy, Natural Gas on Japan Trip
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the ranking Republican on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will soon travel to Japan to discuss the state of the country’s nuclear energy and the possibility of importing Alaskan natural gas. After the accident at Fukushima Daiichi and the subsequent shutdown of all but two of Japan’s nuclear power reactors, the country has needed to rely more on energy sources such as liquefied natural gas.
Source: The Hill

NRC deliberates Expensive Safety Upgrades for U.S. Reactors 
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering whether to approve recommendations by its staff to require expensive safety upgrades at 31 nuclear facilities similar to Fukushima Daiichi in Japan. The new filtered vents for emergency systems would cost at least $16 million for each reactor, which some energy analysts have said will increase the cost of nuclear power, according to Reuters. NRC members expressed varying levels of support for the proposal at a recent public hearing.
Sources: Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Head Doubts Three-Year Reactor Review Timeframe
The head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) doubts that Japan will perform safety inspections of all the country’s reactors within the allotted timeframe. “I don’t think it will be possible to do all (the reactors) in three years, although we will act as swiftly as we can,” said NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka, according to House of Japan. The NRA is expected to announce new safety standards by July, which Japan’s idling reactors must meet before restarting.
Source: House of Japan

RAND Study Looks at Approaches to Disposing Nuclear Waste
A new study from RAND Corporation has identified a federal government corporation and an independent government agency as the best potential options for dealing with the disposal of spent nuclear fuel and waste. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) tasked RAND with analyzing alternative models and developing a framework to help the government determine the best path. Either approach “can achieve the critical attributes of accountability, transparent decisionmaking, insulation from political control, a public interest mission and organizational stability,” according to Smart Energy Universe. Earlier this week DOE announced plans to build a permanent waste burial site by 2048.
Sources: Smart Energy Universe, RAND Corporation

Dominion Virginia Power: Plans for 3rd North Anna Reactor on Track
Despite a drop in demand, Dominion Virginia Power will build a third nuclear reactor — a Mitsubishi Heavy Industry’s Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor — at the company’s North Anna Power Station. Eugene S. Grecheck, Dominion vice president of nuclear development, told The Free Lance-Star that despite the growing popularity of natural gas as an electricity source, the company sees there was a place for nuclear and other energy sources. “But in the long term, we are convinced that it is not in the company’s interest, or the nation’s interest, to be completely dependent on only one fuel,” said Grecheck. “Historically, the price of natural gas has been very volatile and subject to very big swings.” Still, many opponents of the plan and others in the community doubt the reactor will ever be built.
Source: WTOP