The head of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant says there’s no need to extend the current target to finish its decommissioning in 30-40 years despite uncertainties about melted fuel inside the plant’s three reactors. Ten years after meltdowns of three of its reactors following a massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi plant has stabilized but faces new challenges. Nuclear regulators recently found fatal levels of contamination under the lids of two reactors, a test removal of melted fuel debris from one reactor has been delayed for a year, and a recent earthquake may have caused new damage to the reactors. About 900 tons of melted fuel debris remain inside the plant’s three damaged reactors, and its safe removal is a daunting task that its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, and the government say will take 30-40 years to finish. The removal of spent fuel units from cooling pools is already being delayed for up to five years. But Akira Ono, who as head of the plant is also its chief decommissioning officer, said he doesn’t plan to change the current goal to finish decommissioning between 2041 and 2051.
Seattle Times 3rd March 2021 read more »
At a seaside nuclear-power plant here, a concrete wall stretching a mile along the coast and towering 73 feet above sea level offers protection against almost any conceivable tsunami. Two reactors are ready to start splitting atoms again to heat water into steam and generate power, the operator has told regulators. Yet despite safety measures set to cost nearly $4 billion, the Hamaoka plant hasn’t produced a single kilowatt since May 2011, and it has no target date to restart. The paint on billboards is fading and an old “no trespassing” sign outside the barbed wire lies on the ground—signs of creeping neglect. Even a local antinuclear leader, Katsushi Hayashi, said he spent more time these days fighting an unrelated rail line in the mountains, confident that regulators and public opinion wouldn’t let the plant open any time soon. “Fukushima gave us all the proof we need. It’s dangerous,” Mr. Hayashi said. A decade after Fukushima, just nine reactors in Japan are authorized to operate, down from 54 a decade ago, and five of those are currently offline owing to legal and other issues. All of Fukushima prefecture’s reactors are closed permanently or set to do so. Chubu Electric Power Co. , owner of the Hamaoka plant, declined to make an executive available for comment. It has formally applied to reopen two reactors at the plant and told regulators that new measures such as the wall, mainly completed in 2015, make them safe to operate.
Wall St Journal 3rd March 2021 read more »
As work to decommission the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and revitalise the surrounding area continues, there are many ways international communities can learn, assist Japan and support each other, according to a new report from OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. Published today, ahead of the 10th anniversary of the disaster, the report summarises the circumstances of the accident, the current status of the site, and lessons learned. It also considers the challenges that lie ahead and makes policy recommendations.
World Nuclear News 3rd March 2021 read more »