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Worst-hit reactor at Fukushima may be easiest to clean up

44 Comments
By Mari Yamaguchi

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This article sounds like propaganda before the olympics to say everything is ok and going to plan.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Hopefully folks will FINALLY acknowledge that this disaster is the number one, no comparisons what so ever, in the history of nuclear power.

How times times 3 mile, Chernobyl..there is NO comparison.

Japan HATES being number one at anything negative, but they earned it this time!

2 ( +11 / -9 )

So, what's stopping radioactive dust escaping from number 3 reactor at present?

3 ( +7 / -4 )

I really hope the GAMBARE! and GAMAN SHINASAI! neurosis does not apply to the workers in hazmat suits and filter-masks staying up to two hours at a time in a highly radioactive environment!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

Putting aside all the bad stuff that TEPCO have done and are responsible for, and it's previous directors without doubt should be prosecuted and serve jail time and even not allowed to ever operate another NNP, the work that it has achieved with the reactor buildings, especially the badly damaged No3 reactor which had a number of MOX rods in the fuel assembly.

I was surprised by the achievement with the No3 in clearing upend removing the damaged and collapsed roof section. Removing the fuel rod overhead crane which was in the cooling pool. Installing a steel floor and new crane and installing the cover. Much of that work was achieved using remote control equipment because the radiation levels remain high.

The spent fuel removal will take time, 1500 assemblies. The removal of the 800 tons of molten fuel is something probably way-into-the-future.

So, while I hold TEPCO fully responsible for this mega nuclear disaster, I'm also happy to see progress at ground zero but I certainly won't be around for the final solutions and completions.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Beside the torrential churning maelstrom of lies, deceit and obfuscation by TEPCO, I, as others, wish the workers of now and the future all the very best.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

I wonder what happened to those brave souls who volunteered themselves and are exposed to the radiation. Haven’t seen any report on their current conditions if they are still with us.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Seems like TEPCO and IAEA have got their fingers clicking the - . Ah, well, we know the truth! Good luck to all those doing this dangerous and thankless task. Stay safe!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

YubaruToday  04:24 pm JST

Hopefully folks will FINALLY acknowledge that this disaster is the number one, no comparisons what so ever, in the history of nuclear power.

How times times 3 mile, Chernobyl..there is NO comparison.

I agree there is no comparison... but not in the direction you're claiming.

(From Wikipedia)

Fatalities:

Chernobyl: 31 dead directly, 15 estimated dead indirectly

Fukushima: 0 dead directly, 0 estimated dead indirectly

Initial Iodine-131 Released:

Chernobyl: 1.6 - 1.9 million TBq

Fukushima: .4 million TBq

Initial Caeseum-137 Released:

Chernobyl: 55-111 thousand TBq

Fukushima: 3 - 30 thousand TBq

Contamination area:

Chernobyl: up to 500 km away

Fukushima: up to 60 km away

Number of people displaced:

Chernobyl: 335,000

Fukushima: 154,000

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

You should not compare Fukushima with Chernobyl. They are completely different scenarios and reactors. The Chernobyl reactors were not inside a containment vessel and blew 90% of the fuel rods out of the water tank covering a very large area with shattered fuel rods. Fukushima however, has/had containment vessels, which kept the fuel rods within the housing. However, the Fukushima explosion was caused by super heated water separating the hydrogen and blew it up under pressure. The initial gas from the explosion was highly radioactive, of course, but the fuel rods were not blown out of the vessels. Fukushima’s main environmental disaster has come since the explosions with all the radioactive water leeching into the sea and ground water. It is highly likely that the fuel rods burned through the containment vessel and the cooling water they are now pumping in is running straight through into the ground water, but this is impossible to confirm until they get the melted rods out of the tank, which could take another twenty years. This means, if the vessel is ruptured highly irradiated cooling water will have been running directly into the ground for over twenty years. This is why you can not compare Chernobyl with Fukushima. Chernobyl is capped and set. Fukushima is not even close, so the amount of radiation or environmental damage cannot he accurately assessed until it is capped.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Probably best to engage all of the experts in nuclear power plant design and engineering from Japan Today to solve these problems.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

More of the radiation released at Fukushima went out seaward and into the ocean. Continues to leak into the sea. Japan got lucky with the wind directions.

Cost of Chernobyl:$235 billion

Cost Fukushima will be more than 100 trillion yen or $900 billion.

The area of the Ukraine is 603,600 km². The size of Japan is 378,000 km² but something like 80% are mountains.

There are four NNP's in Ukraine while in Japan there are more than 20 with similar reactor designs as the Fukushima ones. Ukraine isn't a country of earthquakes, tsunamis and isn't on the Ring-of-Fire.

Japan had to increase fossil fuel imports.

Chernobyl was a greater nuclear disaster with radiation reaching as far away as Wales in the UK but Fukushima although the second worse nuclear disaster in the end a much more expensive one than the Chernobyl.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

The cost of Nuclear power 1: expensive to build 2: very cheap electricity whilst its up and running, 3: catastrophicly expensive to decommission 4: cost to the environment ...priceless. If we knew back in the 50's and early 60' when Nuclear power was the way forward, knowing what we now know, would they have built these power plants?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Probably best to engage all of the experts in nuclear power plant design and engineering from Japan Today to solve these problems.

Over the years since Fukushima, there have been many qualified people on JT, who have knowledge and experience. There are many who did the research and read the many various investigation papers. There is only limited even by the experts understanding of the problems with dealing with the Fukushima reactors. My own expertise was electrical engineering mostly in the heavy chemical industry but also many other areas including power generation station but none in NPP.

JT is an opinion forum and no one is required to be an expert in anything.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Good luck TEPCO cleanup crews...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

If we knew back in the 50's and early 60' when Nuclear power was the way forward, knowing what we now know, would they have built these power plants?

You mean if they knew that the plant would have been swamped by the biggest tsunami in recent history?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Researchers have pointed to the deadly tsunami and earthquake which struck Japan on March 11, 2011, which claimed the lives of nearly 16,000 people – there was a supermoon eight days after this.

On February 22 of the same year, there was a 6.3 magnitude quake in Christchurch, New Zealand, which killed 185 people – there was a supermoon four days prior to this.

Seismologist for GNS Science Dr John Ristau said that if faults are at breaking point, a supermoon could trigger an Earthquake.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

@Thunderbird2

You mean if they knew that the plant would have been swamped by the biggest tsunami in recent history?

But that's the sad point, they did know about the mega tsunami. Previous survivors placed stones on the mountains saying don't build below this level. A village at that level survived. TEPCO were told the seawall height needed to be increased because of the possibility of a mega tsunami. They refused to act on that.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

structural damage or a power outage could cause meltdowns and massive radiation leaks because the pools are uncovered.

No, it couldn't. The rods have been out of the rector for over 7 years and thus no longer require active cooling. They could be removed from the water completely and just air flow would prevent them from heating up enough to melt.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

They could be removed from the water completely and just air flow would prevent them from heating up enough to melt.

The cooling pools also prevent the release of radiation that will remain in the fuel rods for a very long time to come.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Super moon this evening, blue and blood red. Should be happening about now if the clouds part for you. Last week's eruption any connection, zichi?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Comparisons don't count, a disaster is a disaster in its own right. This is an absolute disaster. This is so far from being OK and at the whim of nature it easly could be magnified further.

Yeah Nuclear energy

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Zichi, are you saying that a Supermoon could trigger another earthquake? There have been quite a few Supermoons since 2011... hopefully just a coincidence.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Super moon this evening, blue and blood red. Should be happening about now if the clouds part for you. Last week's eruption any connection, zichi?

Yes, I'm watching it on my computer from NASA live. Went outside but not so clear anymore. Going red at the moment. I don't know if last weeks eruption and the super on are connected but Seismologist for GNS Science Dr John Ristau said that if faults are at breaking point, a supermoon could trigger an Earthquake. Science needs to investigate every possible reason that can cause earthquakes, tsunami or eruptions. More understanding maybe more predictions.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

OK, so I only made it through the first sentence of teh article before I shaking my head.

We’ve had seven years of highly radioactive dust?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Three Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters happened completely because of human mistakes. In Fukushima, the disaster was caused both by natural events and human negligence. I am saying this because apparently many people here are only afraid about earthquake and tsunami, when so far, the human incompetence has been the biggest cause for nuclear disasters. So, there's not any nuclear reactor that can be considered safe. Especially the old ones, and there's plenty of them all around the world.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well based on the complete unpopularity of my post I can conclude that the readers here do in fact realize that the Japan Today posters are not the ones to solve the challenges at Fukushima Dai-ichi

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Fukushima too was a man made disaster which could have been avoided with the right plant and safety measures such as not locating the emergency generators in the basements below sea level. Or increasing the height of the sea wall to stop the tsunami. The full investigation by the Diet fully put the blame on TEPCO and human mistakes rather than from natural disaster.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Zichi: I said that Fukushima disaster was caused both by natural events and human negligence. I doubt you read my post properly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Akex80

investigation differ with your comment.

I read your comment but also stated many of the investigations, like the one by the national diet puts the cause on human negligence and not because of the natural disaster. The NPP mostly survived the earthquakes but became flooded and badly damaged from the tsunami.

https://www.nirs.org/wp-content/uploads/fukushima/naiic_report.pdf

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@Zichi: I think it's really obvious I meant only to say that the natural events induced the disaster. This was my point. I never denied that the nuclear plant wasn't handled properly, and indeed my point was that in all the three main nuclear disasters worldwide, human incompetence was always implied, while you are so obsessed over the supermoon and stuff, that is barely in topic. Are we speaking about how and if it's possible to predict earthquakes? No. We are speaking about a nuclear disaster. Statistically, human incompetence has been way more relevant for nuclear disasters than natural factors. Plus, the so called "experts" are not even able to handle the clean up of disasters or nuclear waste. Look also at the situation at the Hanford Nuclear Site, where contamination is spreading outside the work-control zone, and they have not any idea about what the hell is happening.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Alex80

I accept what you say, "scusa!"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Zichi: No problem. I only want my message can be clear.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zichi - TEPCO were told the seawall height needed to be increased because of the possibility of a mega tsunami. They refused to act on that.

They were also advised by a French team in 2,000 to get the back up generators onto the roofs of the housings far above sea level and to waterproof all the back up electrical systems, which they also ignored. Yes, the tsunami was unprecedented in modern times. However, TEPCO's ignorance and irresponsibility are what caused the meltdowns. Even now, the reactors they are begging to restart with the new super-duper safety standards have not addressed these issues. Yes, the have increased the height of the sea walls and reinforced some structures, but they are all susceptible to the same electrical failure that set off the meltdowns in Fukushima. The sea walls may stop the force of the waves, but they will not stop in inundation of a large tsunami. It's just stoopid!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Disillusioned

Having worked in complex and highly dangerous chemical plants in control and instrumentation it was a big shock to discover how much was wrong with the NPP, that even common sense could have answered even without expert opinion. TEPCO hadn't taken every necessary step to ensure the full safety of its atomic plant and the safety of all the employee's working in them. Compared with now costs of nuclear disaster the cost of safety would have been a drop in the ocean.

Every reactor building should have been totally self contained and watertight with watertight doors. Power and water available in several ways. No major switch gear or panels on the ground level. Emergency system that actually worked with a well trained management and staff training in all aspects of safety.

Without the original plant manager who died from stomach cancer, unrelated, the disaster could have been far worse.

One of the major causes for the nuclear disaster was that all the people of responsibility within the nuclear village from the government down never believed a nuclear disaster could happen in Japan. The failures of IEEA too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

OK, so I only made it through the first sentence of teh article before I shaking my head. We’ve had seven years of highly radioactive dust?

Try reading further. The dust is likely to arise from operations to remove the fuel. They're building precautions.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Albaleo: A vast swathe of Tohoku, parts of Ibararki, Chiba, Tochigi, Tokyo too, etc were contaminated, so still then are the plants, trees, and other vegetation that absorb this, then there’s a thing called spring, with pollen, and winds. Then there is resuspension of radionuclides when the soil dries out and the wind blows, the threat of fires too. Burning all that contaminated forest... it’s why the EU for example, pay the Ukraine a billion Euros a year, to stop the forests burning through management. There’s not just the immediate site to think about, but wherever any of the plethora f radionuclides fell back to earth in the rains of March 15. Wherever the plume wandered in the wind.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@YongYang,

I don't think what you described has anything to do with the roof being built or the comment about "seven tears of radioactive dust" which I was responding to.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

DisillusionedJan. 31  06:26 pm JST

It is highly likely... but this is impossible to confirm ... could ... if ... will have been ... cannot he accurately assessed

You seem very certain of what can't be done despite a post very full of uncertain language about what may or may not be happening in Fukushima.

Which, to be clear, I'm not attacking you for uncertain language. Being willing to admit what we don't know is the first step in science. I'm just saying to admit you don't know nearly any outcome for certain about Fukushima and then turn around and insist it can't be compared... that's a bit sketchy, logically speaking.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Course it does, as that reality demonstrates the actual size of any roof that may be needed and that it isn’t just ‘dust’. QED.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Alex80

if you haven't already see the movie, Fukushima: A Nuclear Story. 2015. By an Italian living in Tokyo at the time of 3/11. Narrated by William Defoe.

Also an article in yesterdays JapanTimes

Lingering effects of 2011 disaster take toll in fallout-hit Fukushima, experts warn

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/01/31/national/social-issues/lingering-effects-2011-disaster-take-toll-fallout-hit-fukushima-experts-warn/#.WnLH-GaB1TY

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The cooling pools also prevent the release of radiation that will remain in the fuel rods for a very long time to come.

No, they don't. They provide some shielding of the radiation, but as long as you were more than about 100 feet away you wouldn't even need that shielding. Also the nuclear industry has been using dry cask storage containers for older spent fuel for decades. These are concrete and steel containers that provide plenty of shielding while allowing air flow to provide cooling.

We’ve had seven years of highly radioactive dust?

No. The fear is that movement of major equipment on the refuel floor could stir up radioactive dust. So before they do that movement they built a containment. Also they needed to install a crane to handle the spent fuel.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

They provide some shielding of the radiation, but as long as you were more than about 100 feet away you wouldn't even need that shielding.Also the nuclear industry has been using dry cask storage containers for older spent fuel for decades.

Yes agreed after spending several years in the reactor cooling pools, then moved for several years to the common cooling pool and then into dry casks which at the Fukushima NPP are stored in a building on the docks, and both the casks and the building survived the 3/11 disaster. But the storage in the reactor pools are needed first to cool the fuel rods and then shield the workers in the reactor buildings.

Removing the spent fuel from the remaining three reactors 1-3 will be difficult because there are still very high radiation levels. Removing them remotely hasn't been tried before.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

But the storage in the reactor pools are needed first to cool the fuel rods and then shield the workers in the reactor buildings.

But they have been in the pools long enough to cool the rods and reduce the radiation level from the rods.

Removing the spent fuel from the remaining three reactors 1-3 will be difficult because there are still very high radiation levels. Removing them remotely hasn't been tried before.

Fuel rods have been handled and moved remotely for well over 5 decades. It is the normal situation at every reactor in the world. It is not something new.

The situation at Fukushima 1-3 is unique in the levels of contamination, the possible problem from debris in and around the pools and the question of building stability. Although the last issue has been alleviated by the building of the new crane/removal structure.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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