Workers are seen near storage tanks for radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Photo: REUTERS file
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Decades-long challenge to scrap Fukushima plant by 2051 in a bind

21 Comments
By unko Horiuchi

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A few grams at a time?

And all the while the area is highly radioactive with thousands of tonnes of melted fuel and debris mixed up together.

It should be surrounded and encased in steel and concrete as a legacy to show future generations the danger of the atomic age.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

I already stated that back in 2011. The nuclear disaster will take 50-100 years.

"But critics have cast doubts on the schedule, citing not only the extremely high radiation levels but problems associated with delayed probes and underdeveloped robots and other technology needed to extract an estimated nearly 900 tons of melted fuel debris."

The top of the reactors has plugs several meters thick made from steel and concrete. These are removed to access the reactor. The No2 moved during the original earthquake and went slightly ajar. The radiation level on the inside of the No2 plug is more than 15 SEVERT.

Unlike Chernobyl, Fukushima can't be encapsulated with a cover. There are underground waters that run into the ocean. The radiation would continue to contaminate that water.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The recent powerful earthquake increased the size of the cracks in the No1&3 reactor containment vessels, leaking more cooling water and the cooling water levels dropping.

Over the next 50 years, there will be many powerful earthquakes. The plant remains fragile and dangerous until it's over.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Thankfully, in this article we are getting both sides of the picture.

According to Yasuro Kawai, another member of the commission, the government's decision to release treated water into the sea is in fact the government's attempt to minimize the impact of the Fukushima crisis and say dismantling work is on track.

"But the roadmap is nothing but pie in the sky," he said.

The commission says it is more logical to keep the debris inside the reactors than to retrieve it and suggests constructing a shield around the reactors and postpone taking out the melted fuel until 100 years or 200 years later when radioactive activity levels have decreased.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Chernobyl didn't experience an earthquake and tsunami and isn't located on the sea. Leaving the Fukushima site for 100 or 200 years is a dangerous option. There will be many powerful earthquakes during that time and could send the reactor plant straight into the ocean.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Yup, Fukushima is a long way from being safe, unlike what Abe promised for the Olympics. One of the problems after 3/11 was the difference in power frequency in the electrical grid between eastern and western Japan. Does anyone know if there have been upgrades or additional frequency converter stations built to meet any future emergency? I wonder what the energy contingency plan is for the Olympics?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Will definitely need some fresh thinking outside the box.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The March 11, 2011 earthquake and the days following watching the Fukushima disaster unfold convinced me to make a plan to leave Japan after 20 years. I lived downwind in Ibaraki and remember vividly the day we closed the windows and stayed inside after the hydrogen explosion. Where I lived got a particularly heavy dose of radiation that day.

As a general rule, I remember clearly thinking as I watched TV that when they start using helicopters to try to drop water on melting reactors, you're screwed.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The UK Sellafield Nuclear Complex is still cleaning up after the cessation of operations on Calder Hall, the world's first commercial nuclear power plant. Costs have more than quadrupled, as the nature and scope of the decomissioning work was revealed, and the time line for completion, i.e. be able to use the land again, is now estimated to be 2120!

And that was a plant that was switched off in a regular manner in 2003.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

...is becoming more complex as recent remote-controlled probes have highlighted just how damaged the reactors are.

This can't be true because we were told countless times by those at the very top that everything was under control.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I have a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in nuclear engineering. That was back in the late 1970's because I believed nuclear power would grow to be more safe than gas or oil, and we were being lied to constantly about the end of oil coming soon...

I thought engineers and scientists would run the show and make all the right decisions with safety being the uppermost priority.

Boy, was I wrong. That's the problem with youth, you don't understand the power of stupid people yet.

After Three Mile Island, I knew there would never be another nuclear reactor built in the US.

Chernobyl showed that stupid people in positions of authority are to blame for "accidents." They are not accidents, they are the result of stupid people making stupid decisions, like not putting backup power control in water tight vaults far above the shoreline of place with a history of earthquakes and tsunamis that should never have a nuclear plant constructed along that coastline.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Unlike Chernobyl we, Fukushima can't be encapsulated with a cover. There are underground waters that run into the ocean. The radiation would continue to contaminate that water.

The dig a deep ditch to divert the flow of water away from the site-simple.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

At Chernobyl, there have been pictures taken from beneath the facility of the "elephant's foot" which is basically a lava-like mixture of concrete and melted fuel rods. Its been given the name "corium" by scientists. I would assume the same type of thing exists under the Fukushima reactors. Its basically unremovable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

aims to scrap the plant between 2041 and 2051

Always, whenever our government or company linked somehow to the gov sets a plan with an end date, they never make it. I've seen that way too many times. The current guys know they will not be there, so they always stick to the après moi, le déluge and can set unrealistic date.

I'd add at least 10 or more realisticaly 20 years to this.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They need to get it done before the next big quake occurs, or it will be game over.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The commission says it is more logical to keep the debris inside the reactors than to retrieve it and suggests constructing a shield around the reactors and postpone taking out the melted fuel until 100 years or 200 years later when radioactive activity levels have decreased.

Oh yeah, why aren't they just doing that? What exactly is the argument in favor of removing the material, given both the extreme difficulty (and cost and risk) involved in removing it and the fact that they have nowhere else to put it anyway?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Hang on... I thought nuclear power is the safest, least expensive, and most effective means of generating power on the planet. They can't possibly have lied.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

kurisupisu

Unlike Chernobyl we, Fukushima can't be encapsulated with a cover. There are underground waters that run into the ocean. The radiation would continue to contaminate that water.

The dig a deep ditch to divert the flow of water away from the site-simple.

TEPCO has already done that by digging wells upstream and thus reducing the amount of underground water reaching the basements of the reactor buildings and becoming contaminated with radiation. They also built an ice wall around the reactor buildings, 30 billion yen. But still, the water flows.

The reactor containment vessels need cooling water to prevent high levels of radiation from escaping and the possibility of further hydrogen explosions. The containment vessels have cracks and leak cooling water. The cracks increased with the recent powerful earthquake.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The government must decide where all the waste from this site and the decommissioning sites of 20 reactors will be stored, for tens of thousands of years. The material will be placed in dry casks and stored. Every nuclear power plant has thousands of spent fuel in cooling pools.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Chernobyl:

"The Elephant’s Foot is so deadly that spending only 30 seconds near it will result in dizziness and fatigue. Two minutes near it and your cells will begin to hemorrhage. By the time you hit the five-minute mark, you’re a goner."

"Even after 30 years, the foot is still melting through the concrete base of the power plant. Its existence makes the city uninhabitable to humans for at least the next 100 years. If it melts down into a source of groundwater, it could trigger another explosion or contaminate the water of nearby villages."

https://www.ripleys.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Elephants-foot.jpg

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Back in the 50-60's Nuclear power was advertised as cheap and safe, HA! far from it, its expensive to build and decommission, the cost to the environment is beyond belief.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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