Global Energy News Roundup: May 16

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.

Abe Administration to Advocate Pro-nuclear Stance
The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) have announced their aim to restore nuclear power operations so long as the plants are confirmed to be safe. The resumption of nuclear operations is one of several topics being considered for the party’s political platform for the Japanese Parliament’s Upper House election in June. The party platform will be debated at the upcoming meeting of the LDP policy chiefs on May 22 and will be finalized the following week. The LDP will run under the same motto as its Lower House election campaign: “Recovering Japan.” The administration is also promoting nuclear power in international deals, with Abe planning a June meeting with the Visegrad Group, an alliance of Central European states, to discuss importing Japanese nuclear technology.
Sources: The Asahi Shimbun, Japan Times

New CO2 Threshold is Seen As Wakeup Call for Policymakers
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reported on May 9 that the earth’s atmospheric carbon dioxide levels had registered at 400 parts per million — a concentration has not existed on earth in the last 3 million years. The 400ppm threshold is thought to cause the earth’s temperatures to rise by 2 degrees Celsius, which in turn would cause Arctic ice to melt and is associated with changes such as increased forest fires and widespread coral bleaching. But scientists also cautioned that it is hard to be exactly sure how much CO2 would cause a 2 degree increase. Crossing the 400ppm threshold represents a wake-up call for policymakers to consider reducing CO2 emissions as more than a scientific milestone.
Source: E&E News

TEPCO Announces Plans for Fukushima Daiichi Spent Fuel and Contaminated Water
On May 9 Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced plans to install equipment necessary for the removal of spent fuel from the Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 reactor building. The installation is scheduled for the fall and will involve the temporary dismantling of the building’s cover constructed in October 2011 to prevent radiation releases. According to TEPCO, the work may lead to a “slight rise” in the release of radiation, which will have “little” impact. To address the more immediate challenge of handling contaminated water, TEPCO met with local fishermen on Monday to seek approval for the discharge of some water with contamination levels described as “the same as rivers in surrounding areas.”
Sources: House of Japan, Japan Times

NRC Delays San Onofre Restart Decision
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane explained on Tuesday that the NRC staff will not reach a decision on the restart of the San Onofre nuclear plant until late June at the earliest. This announcement came a day after a ruling by an independent panel of NRC judges that San Onofre’s restart proceedings represent a de facto license amendment “subject to a hearing opportunity.” The panel’s decision has drawn differing interpretations from the petitioner Friends of the Earth and the NRC over when and how such hearings must take place.
Source: The Los Angeles Times

Dominion Shuts Down Kewaunee Power Station
On May 7, Dominion permanently shut down the Kewaunee nuclear power plant, a 556-megawatt station located near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Dominion announced the shutdown plans in the fall of 2012 and cited low projected wholesale electricity prices as a driving factor in the decision. “This decision was based purely on economics,” explained David Heacock, president of Dominion Nuclear and Chief Nuclear Officer of Dominion.” The dedicated employees have operated the station safely and well.” Dominion is now obligated to decommission the plant and restore the site to green field status within 60 years.
Source: Dominion