Global Energy News Roundup: May 2

Newsroundup42-471x315The 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.

Senate Bill Would Create New Agency in Charge of Nuclear Waste Management
A draft bill from four U.S. Senators would remove the responsibility of managing the disposal of spent nuclear fuel from the U.S. Department of Energy and pass it off to a new federal agency. Under the legislation, the agency’s head will be appointed by the president and approved by the Senate. The bill also allows for the creation of a temporary storage facility while the site fora permanent storage facility is identified and agreed upon. One frequently named possibility is Nevada’s Yucca Mountain facility. While President Obama ended  plans to name the site the permanent repository, the legislation has helped renew discussion of the possibility. But this plan faces significant opposition. “No amount of reassurance from the federal government will reassure us that Nevada should be the nation’s nuclear waste dump,” said Sen. Dean Heller, D-Nev., during the April confirmation hearings for Department of Energy head Ernest Moniz. (See the Forum on Energy’s “Nuclear Waste Resource Guide” for more information.)
Source: U.S. News & World Report

Turkey Close to Contract For Second Planned Nuclear Plant
Turkey has nearly completed an agreement to build a second nuclear plant over the next decade. Turkey’s Energy Minister, Taner Yildiz, said in April that it was premature to declare who will construct the plant, which should have four pressurized water nuclear reactors and a capacity of about 4,500-5,000 megawatts. Talks are currently being held with Japan and China, with the expectation of a deal being signed this week by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during a visit to Turkey.  Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suga, said “Japan’s nuclear technology is at the world’s highest levels of safety and needs to be shared with other countries.” Construction will begin in 2017.
Source: Reuters, Kuwait News Agency, AFP

Japanese Industry Minister: Reactor Restarts As Early As Autumn
Japan could begin to restart its idled nuclear reactor fleet as early as this autumn, according to a recent statement from industry minister Toshimitsu Motegi. That will first depend on the reactors complying with the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s revised safety regulations, on pace to be set by July 18, he said. The local communities would also have to approve the decision. Only two of the country’s fifty reactors are currently online.
Source: Japan Daily Press

Japan, TEPCO Create Task Force to Solve Contaminated Water Issue
In response to a recent International Atomic Energy Agency inspection that found contaminated water to be the most pressing issue at Fukushima Daiichi, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) have assembled an expert taskforce to assess and address the issue. They met for the first time last Friday. In early April TEPCO discovered two leaks in Fukushima’s underground storage pools, which let radioactive substances into the surrounding soil. There are currently about 280,000 tons of liquid radioactive waste in Fukushima’s storage tanks and at the current rate more space will be needed sooner than anticipated. Japan expects to put together a construction schedule in June. (See the Forum on Energy’s “Radiation Resource Guide” for more information.)
Source: Japan Today

U.S., South Korea Extend Civilian Nuclear Agreement; Postpone Decision on Reprocessing
The United States and South Korea are extending their existing civilian nuclear agreement by two years. The agreement is set to expire next March and requires Congressional approval. This extension effectively postpones a decision on whether to permit the Asian nation — the world’s fifth-largest nuclear energy producer — to reprocess spent fuel. The United States “has historically opposed allowing reprocessing and enrichment by its nuclear partners so as to prevent proliferation of the technology,” according to The Washington Post. “Punting the negotiations down the road for two years is advisable, benefits industry by creating some sense of predictability, and is politically neutral,” wrote Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank.
Source: The Washington Post