Fukushima nuclear clean-up: why has it taken so long? Workers at nuclear plant begin fuel removal more than eight years after earthquake that devastated the facility. This is undeniably a “milestone task” in the clean-up operation, says The Daily Telegraph but, to many, the news has come too late. The Japan Times reports that the start of the removal work has already been delayed by more than four years, precious time in which clean-up costs have skyrocketed and more people have been unnecessarily exposed to potentially lethal amounts of radiation, begging the question: why has this clean-up taken so long? Fuel removal was originally scheduled to start in late 2014 but it has been pushed back multiple times. Time Magazine reports that the years-long clean-up effort has been “plagued by accidents and deaths, and Tepco… has faced several lawsuits”. Gizmodo says that the “primary challenge” of the cleanup is “dealing with the intense radiation emanating from the melted fuel”, noting that while humans obviously cannot approach any of the reactor cores, the technology involved is sensitive too. The Guardian says that the clean-up is “expected to take 30 to 40 years, at a cost Japan’s trade and industry ministry recently estimated at 21.5tr yen ($189bn)”.
The Week 18th April 2019 read more »
Tokyo Electric Power plans to allow overseas workers coming to Japan under a new visa programme to work on the cleanup of its wrecked Fukushima nuclear power station north of Tokyo, a spokeswoman said on Friday. The company, known as Tepco, has held discussions with the many sub-contractors working on the site to ensure any overseas staff working under the new arrangements have a full understanding of radiation safety and the necessary language skills, the spokeswoman said. Around 4,000 workers are on the site every day, she said. Tepco has been criticised by the United Nations over possible exploitation of those working on the decades-long decommissioning of the Fukushima station, which was wrecked by an earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan in 2011. A Reuters investigation in 2013 found widespread labour abuses at Fukushima, including workers who said their pay was skimmed and who spoke of scant scrutiny of working conditions.
Reuters 19th April 2019 read more »