Thousands labor around the clock to shut down the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Correspondent Aaron Sheldrick explains why, five years on, workers have only touched the tip of the iceberg.
Reuters 11th March 2016 read more »
In the chaotic two years after its name became forever associated with nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi power plant “resembled a field hospital”, according to the man who is now in charge of the most daunting task the nuclear industry has ever faced: removing hundreds of tons of melted fuel from the plant’s stricken reactors. “Now it really does feel like the situation is settling down and we can look ahead,” said Naohiro Masuda, head of decommissioning at the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco). Five years after a magnitude nine earthquake triggered a giant tsunami that killed almost 19,000 people along the north-east coast of Japan and caused a triple meltdown at Fukushima, the plant has been transformed from the scene of a major disaster into a sprawling building site. But work on removing the melted fuel – something no nuclear operator has ever attempted – has barely begun. All that Tepco knows for certain – although it was slow to admit it – is that fuel in three reactors melted down after the tsunami knocked out the plant’s cooling system on 11 March 2011. Of greatest concern, though, is reactor 1, where the fuel may have burned through the pressure vessel, fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel and into the concrete pedestal below – perhaps even outside it – according to a report by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. Reactors 2 and 3 are thought to have suffered partial meltdowns. Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, said the decommissioning schedule was an attempt to convince the public that Japan was recovering from a major nuclear disaster. “The idea that fuel debris removal will begin in 2021 is not realistic – it’s just not going to happen,” he said. “The roadmap is based on political considerations, not technical ones.
Guardian 11th March 2016 read more »
Five years on from the devastating earthquake and tsunami, an area 12 miles around the Fukushima nuclear plant remains a dead zone, abandoned and uninhabited. However, a few miles to the south the authorities declared that Naraha, another town in the evacuation area, is now safe and everyone should come back. Meanwhile, in other areas, people are still trying to rebuild their shattered lives. The Telegraph’s photographer Julian Simmonds went to investigate.
Telegraph 10th March 2016 read more »
Professor Geraldine Thomas of Imperial College, London. She is one of Britain’s leading researchers on the effects of radiation on the human body. She visits Japan several times a years to advise the government. Gerry has become a passionate advocate of the right of people around the Fukushima plant to return to their homes. Walking with me through the streets of Okuma, Professor Thomas eschews the government-provided safety suit and mask as entirely unnecessary. “People have to feel safe to come back,” she says. “Many will now not want to come back because they’ve made a life elsewhere. But in terms of radiation, the amount we are getting now is very small, and if you were inside a building you’d be getting even less than standing in the open air.”
BBC 10th March 2016 read more »
Plutonium from reactor waste has been separated by the European nuclear giants (at one time BNFL and still AREVA) and AREVA is fabricating MOX fuel for use in the Japanese reactors as they restart. This pro-nuclear notion is profoundly disturbed thinking. MOX was in Fukushima Daiichi Unit-3 (only a small fraction, probably less than 5%). There is still expert debate about the difference between the explosions at Units 1, 2 and 3, but Arnie Gundersen has said many times there was a detonation shockwave at Unit 3, that hydrogen cannot cause that, and the MOX fuel may have had a role in what happened there.
Green World 10th March 2016 read more »
The nuclear disaster at Fukushima has also caused a great deal of human suffering, much of which will continue to unfold in the years to come. Around 150,000 people living nearby the damaged reactors were evacuated because of the threat of radioactivity. This in itself has caused mental strain and evacuation-related deaths, according to reports. Accounts of the physical impact caused by the released radiation vary. A UN report released in 2013 says that there were no radiation-related deaths among the workers and public in the surroundings following the disasters, and there is not expected to be any increase in radiation-caused illnesses. A report by Greenpeace released this month, however, says that the impact of Fukushima will continue to impact nearby ecosystems for centuries. While this reawakening of the public’s fear of nuclear power may alone not have been enough to throw the nuclear renaissance back into the dark ages, economic considerations delivered an additional blow. Peter Bradford a former member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and now an adjunct professor at Vermont Law School, tells Carbon Brief:: “In the US, the 31 new reactor applications filed at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the height of renaissance euphoria (2008-09) had dwindled by two-thirds before Fukushima and is now down to four actually being built. The EPR [European Pressurized Reactor] fiascoes in Finland and France owed nothing to Fukushima. Hinkley was not swayed by Fukushima and never made economic or energy policy sense. It is teetering now because of cost and financial concerns entirely unrelated to the events in Japan.”
Carbon Brief 10th March 2016 read more »
The Anglican Church in Japan is calling for all nuclear power plants in the country to be decommissioned as the world marks five years since the Fukushima disaster.
Christian Radio 11th March 2016 read more »
Exactly five years after the Fukushima nuclear power station disaster, robots sent into the radioactive site to repair reactors are “dying.” Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which owns the power station and is responsible for decommissioning the site, says that as soon as the specially-built robots get close to the damaged reactors, the radiation destroys their circuitry.
IB Times 10th March 2016 read more »
Mirror 10th March 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 10th March 2016 read more »
Opposition surrounding Fukushima have put an end to plans by a group of individuals in Japan who were hoping to turn the Daiichi nuclear power plant into a tourist destination. The plan had been for ordinary people to visit Daiichi nuclear site without wearing radioactive protective suits by 2036 and had been in an early stage of planning. Members of the group promoting what some have called “dark tourism” come from various backgrounds including business, journalism, architecture and sociology.
IB Times 10th March 2016 read more »