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Fukushima, a ‘coordinator’ for the nuclear-stricken area, takes a cue from the U.S. to break away from reconstruction dependent on the government

March 6, 2021, 18:07 (Kyodo News)
 On March 6, a private organization called Fukushima Hamadori Tridec was established to serve as a coordinator between industry, government and academia in the areas affected by the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. In order to promote the reconstruction that the coastal residents of Fukushima Prefecture desire, the organization aims to unite the demands of the region and take the brunt of negotiations with the government and other parties.
 The 43 founding members include local business people, researchers, and politicians. The organization will be incorporated as a general incorporated association and will invite individual and corporate members. Takayuki Nakamura, vice president of East Japan International University (Iwaki City), who will serve as the secretariat, said, “We will break away from our traditional stance of depending on the government. We will decide our own fate,” he said of the founding principles.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Decade After Fukushima Disaster Survivor Looks Back

The Japanese town of Tomioka ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is a shell of its former self.

March 5, 2021

The Japanese town of Tomioka ravaged by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster is a shell of its former self. In some parts, houses and shops lie abandoned, and bin bags filled with contaminated soil line the streets. For Yuta Hatakeyama, who was 14 when his family had to leave their home, the town evokes bittersweet memories. “I had no idea what was going on back then,” he said. “It has been 10 years since and I have been developing sad feelings.”

A decade after the quake and tsunami, Hatakeyama has returned to the town some 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the now shuttered Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and serves as a community spokesperson. The exclusion zone in the town was lifted in 2017 but around 12% of the town still remains a no-go zone where people can’t enter without an official permit.

Hatakeyama remembers a cherry blossom festival in the town, and a lane brimming with food stalls and people. Now it’s cordoned off and dotted with red safety cones. He said he and his family faced discrimination after leaving Tomioka after the disaster for Iwaki, some 50 km (30 miles) away. “When I moved to a new place and heard people there stigmatising us for being evacuated, my heart really ached.”

The 24-year-old now believes the town must get rid of the bags filled with radioactive waste and make the town more liveable. Tomioka, which used to have 16,000 residents before the disaster, is now home to 1,600 people. The town is planning to lift most of its no-go zones by March 2023.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Decade after Fukushima disaster, decontamination work remains incomplete in 85% of regions

Greenpeace says Japan should suspend returning residents to the afflicted region


Decontamination work remains incomplete in 85% of regions where the Japanese government claims to have removed radioactive contaminants from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster, an international environment group’s analysis shows.

In a report titled “Fukushima Daiichi 2011-2021,” published on Thursday ahead of the 10th anniversary of the disaster on March 11, Greenpeace urged the Japanese government to discontinue its policy of returning residents to the afflicted region without regard for science-based analysis.

Two weeks after the disaster struck in March 2011, the group sent a team of radioactivity exports to the scene in the first of 32 total visits through November 2020 to survey the radiation impacts in the Fukushima region. The recent report was based on its findings to date.

The Japanese government has announced the completion of most decontamination work for a Special Decontamination Area (SDA), which does not include a region close to the plant with particularly high levels of contamination that prevent residents from returning. Carried out through March 2019, the effort involved a commitment of 30 million person-hours and cost US$28 billion.

But an analysis of government data by Greenpeace showed that of the 840 square kilometers in the SDA, actual decontamination work had only been completed on 120 square kilometers, or 15 %.

In the case of Iitate — the largest of the seven administrative districts located entirely inside the SDA — decontamination had yet to be completed for 18,183 hectares, or 79% of its area. In the second-largest district of Namie, just 2,140 hectares, or 10%, had undergone even some decontamination.

Resident evacuation orders for the two regions were lifted in March 2017 — but according to Greenpeace, radiation levels make them still too dangerous for human habitation.

According to a Greenpeace study last November, the average amount of radiation in five out of 11 sites surrounding one home in Iitate was 0.5 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h), exceeding the government’s target of 0.23μSv/h.

The area immediately outside of one Namie school was found to be open to the general public despite 93% of measured sites showing radiation above the government’s targets.

“The fact that 85% of the contaminated surface area of the seven Fukushima districts inside the SDA has not been subject to decontamination is directly related to the radiological hazards posed by the mountainous forested areas,” the report explained.

“These remain a long-term source of contamination, including recontamination,” it warned.

Shaun Burnie, the Greenpeace senior nuclear specialist responsible for writing the report, urged the Japanese government to immediately suspend its return policy and decontamination program in order to protect residents of the Fukushima region, arguing that they ignore science-based analysis.

The same day, Greenpeace also published a technical report analyzing the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor. In it, Greenpeace proposed that the Japanese government adopt an alternative to its current decommissioning plan, which increases the amount of water contaminated with high-level radioactive material.

As an alternative approach, it suggested replacing water with air as a means of cooling reactor core fuel, while reducing the amount of contaminated water by installing moats to prevent seawater and underground water infiltration around the plant.

Chang Ma-ri, a climate energy campaigner for Greenpeace, said, “The ravages of radioactive contamination caused by the Fukushima disaster will pose a burden on humankind that will not be resolved for the next century or more.”

“The Japanese government needs to start by withdrawing its imminent plans for the release of contaminated water [into the ocean],” she urged.

By Kim Jeong-su, senior staff writer

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Decade after Fukushima disaster, Greenpeace sees cleanup failure

Greenpeace has recommended that Japan suspend the current return policies, which it says “ignore science-based analysis, including potential lifetime exposure risks to the population” and abandon plans to lift evacuation orders in six municipalities

(FILES) This handout file picture taken and received by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on April 10, 2011 shows an aerial view of the first reactor building of TEPCO’s No.1 Fukushima nuclear power plant in the town of Okuma in Fukushima prefecture, two months after the earthquake and tsunami hit the region on March 11, 2011. – Ten years after the Fukushima disaster, Japan’s nuclear industry remains crippled, with the majority of the country’s reactors halted or on the path towards decommissioning.

Mar 4, 2021

Ten years after the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, land Japan identified for cleanup from the triple reactor meltdown of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant remains contaminated, according to a report from Greenpeace.

On average, just 15% of land in the “Special Decontamination Area,” which is home to several municipalities, has been cleaned up, according to the environmental advocacy group’s analysis of government data. That’s despite the government’s claims that the area has largely been decontaminated, the group said.

In addition, Greenpeace said its own radiation surveys conducted over the last decade have consistently found readings above government target levels, including in areas that have been reopened to the public. The lifting of evacuation orders in places where radiation remains above safe levels potentially exposes people to an increased risk of cancer, the report said.

“The contamination remains and is widespread, and is still a very real threat to long term human health and the environment,” the report said.

Japan’s Ministry of Environment wasn’t immediately available for comment. Decontamination efforts have reduced radiation levels in residential areas by an average of 76%, according to the ministry’s website, which has compiled monitoring data through 2018. Fukushima Prefecture wasn’t immediately available for comment.

More than 160,000 people were evacuated from the area surrounding the Fukushima nuclear plant after a magnitude 9 earthquake, the biggest ever recorded to hit Japan, caused a massive tsunami that overwhelmed the plant. While the government has been steadily lifting evacuation orders on towns since 2014, roughly 36,000 people are still displaced.

Greenpeace recommended that Japan suspend the current return policy, which “ignore science-based analysis, including potential lifetime exposure risks to the population” and abandon plans to lift evacuation orders in six municipalities.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

85% of Special Decontamination Area remained contaminated Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning road map unachievable – a new plan is inevitable


Mar 4, 2021 (Greenpeace Japan) – Nearly a decade after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, Greenpeace released two reports today that highlighted the complex legacy of the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. 

The first report Fukushima 2011-2020 detailed radiation levels in Iitate and Namie in Fukushima prefecture. Our original findings showed that decontamination efforts have been limited and that 85% of the Special Decontamination Area has undergone no decontamination. 

The second report Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station From Plan-A to Plan-B Now, from Plan-B to Plan-C critiqued the current official decommission plan within 30-40 years of having no prospects of success and is delusional. 

“Successive governments during the last ten years, and largely under prime minister Shinzo Abe, have attempted to perpetrate a myth about the nuclear disaster. They have sought to deceive the Japanese people by misrepresenting the effectiveness of the decontamination program and ignoring radiological risks,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist at Greenpeace East Asia. 

“At the same time, they continue to claim that the Fukushima Daiichi site can be returned to ‘greenfield’ status by mid-century. The decade of deception and delusion on the part of the government and TEPCO must end. A new decommissioning plan is inevitable so why waste any more time with the current fantasy?” Burnie added.

The first Greenpeace radiation expert team arrived in Fukushima prefecture on 26 March 2011, and have conducted 32 investigations into the radiological consequences of the disaster over the last decade, the most recent in November 2020. The key findings of the radiation report Fukushima 2011-2020 are:

  • Greenpeace has consistently found that most of the 840 square kilometers Special Decontamination Area(SDA), where the government is responsible for decontamination, remains contaminated with radioactive cesium. 
  • Analysis of the government’s own data shows that in the SDA an overall average of only 15% has been decontaminated.
  • No time frame for when the Japanese government’s long-term decontamination target level of 0.23 microsieverts per hour (μSv/h) will be achieved in many areas. Citizens will be subjected for decades of radiation exposure in excess of 1mSv/y recommended maximum.
  • In the areas where evacuation orders were lifted in 2017, specifically, Namie and Iitate, radiation levels remain above safe limits, potentially exposing the population to increased cancer risk. Plans to continue to lift evacuation orders are unacceptable from a public health perspective.
  • Up till 2018, tens of thousands of decontamination workers had been employed in decontamination in the SDA. As documented by Greenpeace[1], the workers, most of whom are poorly paid subcontractors, have been exposed to unjustified radiation risks for a limited and ineffective decontamination program. 

The key findings of The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station decommissioning report[2] are:

  • There are no credible plans for retrieval of the hundreds of tons of nuclear fuel debris remaining inside and under the three Reactor Pressure vessels – it requires a fundamental review. 
  • Water used in reactor cooling and groundwater contamination, and therefore accumulating in tanks, will keep growing into the future unless a new approach is adopted.
  • All nuclear contaminated material should remain on the site indefinitely. If the nuclear fuel debris is ever retrieved, it also should remain on site. Fukushima Daiichi is already and should remain a nuclear waste storage site for the long term. 
  • The current plan is unachievable in the timeframe of 30-40 years in the current road map and impossible to achieve in terms of returning the site to greenfield.

It is recommended that a fundamental rethink in approach and a new plan for the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, including a delay in molten fuel removal for 50-100 years or longer is needed with the construction of secure containment buildings for the long term. The Primary Containment vessel, with reinforcement, should be used as an incomplete primary boundary and the reactor building as the secondary boundary for the medium-to-long term, while developing robotic technology that can perform tasks without high radiation risks to human workers. 

Finally, to prevent the further increase of radioactive contaminated water, cooling of nuclear fuel debris should be switched from water to air cooling, and the Fukushima Daiichi site should be made into a ‘dry island’ isolated from groundwater with the construction of a deep moat. 


Links to full reports: 


[1] Greenpeace Japan, “On the Frontline of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Workers and Children Radiation risks and human rights violations”, March 2019

[2] Report commissioned by Greenpeace from a consulting nuclear engineer, formerly with General Electric including at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, Mr. Satoshi Sato.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima chief: No need to extend decommissioning target

This Sept. 4, 2017, aerial file photo shows Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant reactors, from bottom at right, Unit 1, Unit 2 and Unit 3, in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. The head of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said Tuesday, March 2, 2021 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.

March 3, 2021

TOKYO (AP) — 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.

“I don’t think we need to revise the target right now,” Ono said Tuesday in an online interview with The Associated Press. “We will stick to the 30-to-40-year finishing target, and will compile a timeline and technology and development plans accordingly.”

He said TEPCO plans to focus primarily on the coming decade and hopefully will release a new 10-year road map by the end of March.

The recently discovered fatal levels of cesium on the bottom of shield plugs atop the primary containment chamber at the No. 2 and 3 reactors will not affect near-term decommissioning work, but could complicate future plans, Ono said.

A lot about the melted fuel, which fell from the core to the bottom of the primary containment chambers in Units 1, 2 and 3, remains unknown, Ono said, adding that it’s too early to decide how the plant should look at the end of the cleanup.

“It is a difficult question,” he said. “If you ask 10 people, everyone has a different answer.” Local officials in Fukushima have said they expect the plant complex to be a flatland where people can walk freely.

Ono said the plant’s end state should be discussed by the government, local residents, experts and other concerned parties, and should be decided by a consensus.

Some experts are still skeptical that the removal of all of the melted fuel debris is possible and suggest a Chernobyl-style entombment of the plant. Ono, however, denied that option, saying a long-term abandonment could pose a bigger risk than a controlled cleanup and hinder the region’s recovery.

Ono said the removal of the melted fuel debris will hopefully progress on track during the 2030s. “The next 10 years for us is to prepare for that goal,” he said.

Massive radiation from the reactors caused about 160,000 people to evacuate from around the plant. Tens of thousands are still unable to return home.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima resident still can’t return home 10 years after nuclear disaster

Yasuko Sasaki is seen at her house in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, on Feb. 1, 2021.

March 3, 2021

FUKUSHIMA — Yasuko Sasaki’s house lies just 30 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where a meltdown took place following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. On Feb. 1, Sasaki temporarily returned to clean up leaves that had fallen on the grave at the back of the property.

Once a month, the 66-year-old visits her house in the Tsushima district in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Namie from the prefectural village of Otama — 50 kilometers away — where she is currently evacuated to. It has been almost 10 years since she became unable to live at her own residence.

Due to high radiation levels, Tsushima was designated a “difficult to return” zone, where restrictions for entering are in place, and people are barred from living there. Homes without their owners living in them have been ransacked by wild animals. While Sasaki has been away, wild animals chewed up stuffed turtle and bird specimens kept at her house. She continues to clean her house so that she “can return at any time.”

In the grave are the bones of her husband Kenji, who died of illness at age 57 in February 2011, just before the disaster struck the area, her youngest son Shinji, who passed away at 21 due to cancer in August the same year, and her parents-in-law. Sasaki was born in Yokohama, south of Tokyo, and married her husband and moved to the Tsushima district when she was 33. The couple raised their two children in the house, using mountain stream water in everyday life and boiling the bath with firewood.

“The memories that I have of spending time together with my family are here and only here. I want to come home while I can move my body,” Sasaki explained. A calendar at her house still shows March 2011, when the earthquake and tsunami hit.

The Reconstruction Design Council in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake, an advisory panel to the prime minister, deemed that “recovery from the devastating disaster will not be completed until Fukushima soil recovers.” The government has set up Specified Reconstruction and Revitalization Bases within difficult-to-return zones and is carrying out decontamination work and developing infrastructure so that people can reside in the area once again. It aims to lift evacuation orders for the bases in between 2022 and 2023.

However, the areas designated as reconstruction bases are limited. In the Tsushima district, a 153-hectare space surrounding the town hall’s Tsushima branch is designated — just 1.6% of the whole district. Of the 532 households in the district at the time of the disaster, 80% including Sasaki’s house are not included in the reconstruction base area, and there are no prospects for these people to be able to return to their homes.

Sasaki said, “Everything’s still the same, even 10 years after the (nuclear) disaster. I wonder for how many more years I’ll have to continue cleaning (my house).”

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan undecided on timing, method of Fukushima water release

Storage tanks for treated contaminated water are seen at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture.

March 3, 2021

Japanese authorities are undecided on how and when to discharge radioactive water from the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea or air, amid heightened environmental and public safety concerns from its neighboring countries, including South Korea. 

“The exact timing on when the government will decide on the method and the period is yet to be decided,” said a Japanese government official Wednesday. 

“We are still evaluating the situation. But it’s true that there are limits to the storage space of the tanks, and the government consider it as a task that cannot be delayed,” the official said, reiterating Tokyo’s stance to release the contaminated water, which has been filtered to reduce radioactivity. 

The remarks came during a press briefing organized by the Japanese Embassy in South Korea, as next week marks the 10-year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, that hit the Fukushima area and caused a meltdown of the three nuclear reactors. Attending the event was officials from the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, Tokyo Electric Power, the state-run operator of the plant, and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The liquid, which includes water used cool the power station, was contaminated after the nuclear disaster, and Tokyo has been pushing to release more than 1 million metric tons of treated water it has collected at the thousands of tanks at the site since 2011, as the storage capacity is set to run out by summer of 2022. But such a plan has sparked strong opposition and environmental worries among the public in both South Korea and Japan.

The water is being processed through the Advanced Liquid Processing System, or ALPS, to remove most of the dangerous radioactive materials, except for the traces of tritium, a radioactive substance which is still in the water — albeit at low level, according to Tokyo.

Last November, Japan was set to make a final decision on the water — either between disposing in the sea or vaporizing and releasing it into the air — as both were considered the most “realistic options,” but it has been delayed amid fierce backlash from local residents, the local fishery and agriculture industry and neighboring countries.

The authorities said that relevant decision will be made in consultation with local residents, industry personnel and neighboring countries through diplomatic channels. It also stressed it would carry out safety inspections of the release with the International Atomic Energy Agency, and provide transparent, scientific information to its neighbors as well. 

If Japan decides to discharge the water, it will likely be dumped as early as summer of 2022 when the storage reaches full capacity. 

But the official raised a possibility on the delay of the discharge, considering the filling up of the tank — which includes groundwater and rain that seeps into the plant — inside the storage has slowed down, due to relatively low precipitation in 2020. 

“The period as to when the water will be completely filled will depend on the level of rain and typhoons this year,” the official said. “We will review the plan considering such situation.”

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

Farmers in Fukushima plant indigo to rebuild devastated town

March 2, 2021

MINAMISOMA, Japan — Because of radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster a decade ago, farmers in nearby Minamisoma weren’t allowed to grow crops for two years.

After the restriction was lifted, two farmers, Kiyoko Mori and Yoshiko Ogura, found an unusual way to rebuild their lives and help their destroyed community. They planted indigo and soon began dying fabric with dye produced from the plants.

“Dyeing lets us forget the bad things” for a while, Mori said. “It’s a process of healing for us.”

The massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, caused three of the reactors at the nuclear plant to melt and wrecked more than just the farmers’ livelihoods. The homes of many people in Minamisoma, about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the plant, were destroyed by the tsunami. The disaster killed 636 town residents, and tens of thousands of others left to start new lives.

Mori and Ogura believed that indigo dyeing could help people in the area recover.

Mori said they were concerned at first about consuming locally grown food, but felt safe raising indigo because it wouldn’t be eaten. They checked the radiation level of the indigo leaves and found no dangerous amount.

Ten years after the disaster, Mori and Ogura are still engaged in indigo dyeing but have different missions.

To Mori, it has become a tool for building a strong community in a devastated town and for fighting unfounded rumors that products from Fukushima are still contaminated. She favors the typical indigo dyeing process that requires some chemical additives.

But Ogura has chosen to follow a traditional technique that uses fermentation instead as a way to send a message against dangers of modern technology highlighted by nuclear power.

Mori formed a group called Japan Blue which holds workshops that have taught indigo dyeing to more than 100 people each year. She hopes the project will help rebuild the dwindling town’s sense of community.

Despite a new magnitude 7.3 earthquake that recently hit the area, the group did not cancel its annual exhibition at a community center that served as an evacuation center 10 years ago.

“Every member came to the exhibition, saying they can clean up the debris in their houses later,” Mori said.

Ogura, who is not a member of the group, feels that a natural process is important because the nuclear accident showed that relying on advanced technology for efficiency while ignoring its negative aspects can lead to bad consequences.

“I really suffered during the nuclear accident,” Ogura said. “We escaped frantically in the confusion. I felt I was doing something similar again” by using chemicals.

“We seek too much in the way of many varieties of beautiful colors created with the use of chemicals. We once thought our lives were enriched by it, but I started feeling that wasn’t the case,” she said. “I want people to know what the real natural color looks like.”

Organic indigo dyes take more time and closer attention. Ogura first ferments chopped indigo leaves with water for a month and then mixes the result with lye which is formed on the surface of a mixture of hot water and ashes. It has to be kept at about 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) and stirred three times a day.

Part of the beauty of the process, Ogura says, is that it’s hard to predict what color will be produced.

With the support of city officials, Ogura started making silk face masks dyed with organic indigo.

She used to run an organic restaurant where she served her own vegetables before the disaster, but now runs a guesthouse with her husband in which visitors can try organic indigo dyeing.

Just 700 meters (2,300 feet) from Ogura’s house, countless black bags filled with weakly contaminated debris and soil are piled along the roadside. They have been there since after the disaster, according to Ogura’s husband, Ryuichi. Other piles are scattered around the town.

“The government says it’s not harmful to leave them there. But if they really think it’s not harmful, they should take them to Tokyo and keep them near them,” he said.

The radiation waste stored in the town is scheduled to be moved to a medium-term storage facility by March next year, a town official said.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

No recognition of administrative negligence after nuclear accident

March 1, 2021
The Fukushima District Court has ruled against the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by parents and children who lived in the prefecture at the time of the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, claiming that measures were not taken to avoid radiation exposure to their children.

One hundred and sixty parents and children who lived in the prefecture at the time of the nuclear accident were seeking 100,000 yen per person in damages from the government and the prefecture, claiming that they suffered mental anguish due to the lack of measures to avoid radiation exposure after the accident.
The plaintiffs, parents and children, claimed that they were exposed to unnecessary radiation and continue to suffer from health concerns, while the government and the prefecture countered that they were not exposed to unnecessary radiation.
In his ruling on March 1, Judge Toji Endo of the Fukushima District Court pointed out that the fact that the government did not immediately disclose the prediction of radioactive material diffusion calculated by the system called “SPEEDI” was “not unreasonable as it was in accordance with the operation method stipulated in the national guidelines at that time.
In addition, the court rejected the plaintiff’s claim that the government and the prefectural government did not immediately evacuate the children en masse, pointing out that “the indicators for evacuation in the disaster prevention guidelines at the time of the nuclear accident were standardized for children with high sensitivity to radiation and were reasonable in light of international standards.
This is the first time that a court has ruled on the government’s response to a nuclear accident, while most of the cases involving nuclear accidents hold the government responsible for the occurrence of the accident.
After the verdict was handed down, Sumio Konno, the representative of the plaintiffs’ group, said, “I am not convinced at all. What did the court examine? I thought it was an unfair judgment.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Decades-long challenge to scrap Fukushima plant by 2051 in a bind

March 1, 2021

The decades-long challenge to scrap the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, crippled by the massive earthquake and tsunami disaster that struck northeastern Japan in 2011, is becoming more complex as recent remote-controlled probes have highlighted just how damaged the reactors are.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., operator of the six-reactor nuclear complex, aims to scrap the plant between 2041 and 2051. 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.

Decommissioning of the plant, scene of the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, is crucial for Japan if it wants to stick to using nuclear power safely and show the world that the nuclear crisis is under control.

“It is likely that the roadmap will not be completed as scheduled,” said Tetsuro Tsutsui, a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Nuclear Energy, a group comprising academics and nuclear experts.

He added the “melted debris is mixed with fractured parts of buildings and concrete material and is highly radioactive, making it hard for robots to clear the debris.”

The scrapping of the plant involves the daunting decision on how to dispose of the huge amount of radioactive waste left as a byproduct. This has been made worse as no municipality offered to become the final disposal site when the plant was operating.

Following a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit the plant on March 11, 2011, Nos. 1 to 3 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered meltdowns, while hydrogen explosions damaged the buildings housing the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 reactors.

Photo taken on Nov. 12, 2011, shows the No. 3 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, which was damaged by an explosion after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Due to the instability of renewable energy, Japan projects atomic power will remain one of its major power sources, accounting for 20 to 22 percent of its total electricity generation in fiscal 2030. It may further push the emissions-free nuclear power as it aims to become carbon neutral in 2050.

Of the 33 reactors in Japan, excluding those set to be scrapped, just four are currently in operation, partly because they need to clear stricter safety regulations following the Fukushima accident.

Tsutsui, a former petrochemical complex engineer, points to how the risk of extracting debris has become “clearer” compared to when the roadmap was first compiled in December 2011. With that in mind, he urged the government to act responsibly and review the roadmap.

“Nearly 10 years have passed following the Fukushima accident but with respect to the long decommissioning process, we are still hovering around the start line. We have a long journey ahead,” said Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori in a recent briefing.

“The most difficult step is the safe and stable retrieval of the debris but we don’t know what state it is in,” he added.

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on Feb. 21, 2018. From right, No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 reactors.

Despite the use of computer simulations and small-scale internal probes using remote cameras, data is scarce about the exact locations and other details of the melted fuel — crucial information to determine the retrieval methods and develop the appropriate technology and robots.

Robotic probes at the Nos. 2 and 3 units have captured images of large amounts of material that appear to be melted fuel, but attempts so far have been unsuccessful at the No. 1 unit.

TEPCO opted to start the fuel removal at the No. 2 unit as it has the best grasp of the internal conditions there but no time frame has been set for the two other units.

In a setback for retrieval efforts, the company said in late December removing melted fuel from the No. 2 unit would be delayed from its initial starting period in 2021 by at least a year as the coronavirus pandemic has stalled the development in Britain of a robotic arm to be used for the extraction.

That robotic arm, however, can only extract a few grams of melted fuel debris at a time. To completely remove the hundreds of tons of melted fuel from the reactor larger machinery is required, experts say.

In another development that may affect the decommissioning process, a Nuclear Regulation Authority study group said in January a high concentration of radioactive cesium is likely to have accumulated in the lids of the containment vessels for the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

The regulator’s findings in a new interim report draft on the Fukushima accident came as a shock because it was previously believed that most of the radioactive material remained at the bottom of the reactors in the form of melted nuclear fuel debris.

While industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama has acknowledged the “delays” and “difficulties in making predictions,” he insisted the overall decommissioning process is making “steady progress.” The government and TEPCO say they will stick to the current roadmap.

TEPCO, whose biggest shareholder is the Japanese government, has not given an estimate of the costs for the debris removal, which would add to the 8 trillion yen ($75 billion) already forecast for the decommissioning process.

The utility and the government have also been grappling with the buildup of radioactive water, which is generated in the process of cooling the meltdown reactors.

Part of the water is stored inside massive tanks set up inside the premises, having gone through a system that removes various radioactive materials except tritium, which is difficult to separate from water.

Tanks containing treated water including radioactive tritium are stored on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on Feb. 21, 2018.

The government is considering dumping the water into the Pacific after diluting it to a radiation level below the legal limit, saying the tanks are filling up. It says space is needed to store debris once it is extracted from the damaged reactors.

But discharging the water remains a sensitive issue especially for the local fishing industry struggling to revive its business following the accident. Neighbors South Korea and China as well as U.N. human rights experts have expressed caution about the discharge.

Releasing it into the ocean could lead to a continued ban on exports from this area or an introduction of new export restrictions, observers say.

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.

March 6, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

1. Figures for the 10th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster: Fukushima Daiichi

An article from ACRO translated by Hervé Courtois

February 22, 2021

As we approach the tenth anniversary of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima power plant, here is a numerical assessment based on the media, official sites and the 2,700 articles on this site. Updates will be made regularly.

Situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant

The latest report from the Ministry of Industry on the progress of work at the Fukushima dai-ichi power plant dates from December 24, 2020 and was put online in English on January 28, 2021 (direct link

See the damaged nuclear power plant

Two fixed webcams, installed in 2014, allow to have the nuclear power plant live.

It is possible to take a virtual tour in English and Japanese of the Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear power plant (direct link : But the images and documents do not seem to have been updated since February 2020. Some balance sheets date back to 2018.

As we have already reported, TEPCO has put online on its website (in Japanese and English : hundreds of aerial photos of the crashed Fukushima dai-ichi power plant taken in March 2011. Fukushima’s blog has extracted a selection of them from its website and has made a video montage of the 714 photos However, some of the photos are partially blurred, as if there was some secret, while unblurred aerial views are available since the very beginning of the disaster on the website.

Status of nuclear reactors

TEPCO has a digital timeline in English with the main events related to reactor safety and dismantling.

The portal in English for dismantling works ;
The page in English concerning the removal of fuel from swimming pools ;

Reactor n°4

The vessel was empty on March 11, 2011 and there was no core meltdown, but a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. The hydrogen came from the neighboring reactor No. 3 via the common discharge stack.

The upper part of the reactor building was dismantled, the debris removed, and a new structure was built to remove the fuel from the pool, which has been empty since December 2014. Since then, the work has been stopped because the reactor is no longer a threat.

The map with some ambient dose rate values dates from 2016.

Reactor n°3

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. All the debris in the upper part of the building was removed with the help of remote-controlled devices. A new building with a cylindrical roof was constructed. The removal of fuel began in April 2019, four years later than originally planned. The operations proved to be more complicated than expected, but they completed by the end of February 2021.

There were 566 assemblies in the pool (52 new, all removed, and 514 used). Some were damaged by falling debris. TEPCO’s dedicated page is here in English A video presentation of the operations, here in English

There would be, in this reactor, between 188 and 394 tons of corium (a highly radioactive mixture of molten fuel and debris), with a nominal value of 364 tons. The latter contains MOX fuel, based on plutonium. TEPCO has estimated that the recovery of corium from two reactors 2 and 3 will take 12 years and cost 1,370 billion yen (11.5 billion euros). In 2017, TEPCO had published photos taken inside the containment of this reactor, under the vessel, and a video: &

Since September 2020, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority has resumed its investigations to understand the course of the triple nuclear accident at the Fukushima dai-ichi power plant. This includes visits to the accident reactors, despite the high ambient radiation levels. It has brought back videos:

– Including this one, of Unit 3 taken on September 18, 2020, which shows the dilapidated state of the reactor building, almost 10 years after the accident:

– And of Unit 2 on October 8, 2020 :

– And of Unit 1 on October 9, 2020 :

During these visits, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority discovered very high dose rates, of the order of 10 Sv/h, above the protection slabs of reactors 2 and 3 A lethal dose in one hour on site. It estimates that the slab of Reactor 3 contains about 30 petabecquerels (1015 Bq) of cesium-137. This will complicate the dismantling work.

Reactor n°2

There was a core meltdown, but the reactor building is whole. Ambient radiation is particularly high in this reactor, making access to humans very difficult. A delegation from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority went to visit the interior of the reactor building for the first time since the accident, but it had to turn around prematurely because of the dose rates that reached 11 to 12 mSv/h on the fifth level. This would be due, in particular, to suspended radioactive dust, which is surprising after so many years. Even higher dose rates, of the order of 10 Sv/h, were measured above the protection slabs of reactors 2 and 3. The Regulatory Authority estimates that the slab of Reactor 2 contains about 20 to 40 petabecquerels (1015 Bq) of cesium-137.

TEPCO has not begun to remove spent fuel from the pool, which contains 615 assemblies. This is now planned around 2024 and 2026 because of the ambient dose levels in the reactor building. Images were published in June 2020

The company sent several robots into the containment to locate the corium, this mixture of molten fuel and debris. There would be between 189 and 390 tons of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 237 tons. For more information Several series of images have been put online by the company. One clearly sees the corium and a fuel assembly element that has fallen to the bottom of the containment:

TEPCO had sent a robot in contact with the corium in February 2019. The images were impressive :

The authorities hoped to be able to begin the removal of the corium before the 10th anniversary. This was the goal set in December 2011. But the technology has yet to be developed and the ambitions had already been revised downwards in 2019: it was only a matter of recovering a few grams of corium from reactor No. 2 in 2021. In December 2020, TEPCO announced a delay of at least one year in the start of operations, officially due to the COVID-19 epidemic in the United Kingdom. The articulated arm of a robot, which must collect the corium, is being developed jointly by Veolia Nuclear Solutions in the United Kingdom and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Japan.

TEPCO dismantled half of the chimney common to Reactors 1 and 2, which was 120 m high The work turned out to be more complex than expected, in particular due to a calculation error on the height of the crane. The chimney being highly contaminated, the work was carried out by remote-controlled machines.

Reactor n°1

There was a core meltdown and a hydrogen explosion destroyed the reactor building. This building had been covered with a new structure in 2011, which was completely dismantled in November 2016 TEPCO began to remove the debris from the upper part of the reactor, and then rebuilt a new structure to empty the fuel pool. Since then, the company has not been very prolific about the progress of the work.

On the other hand, the removal of spent fuel from the pool of reactor No. 1 has been delayed: at best, it will be 2027, or even 2028. The first date envisaged for beginning this withdrawal was 2018… The cost of these operations has not been estimated because the company does not yet know how to go about it. In the meantime, TEPCO has covered this pool to protect it with air bags

The hydrogen explosion fractured the concrete slab 12 m in diameter and 60 cm thick which is particularly contaminated in reactors 2 and 3. Very high dose rates had been recorded in 2017, up to 2.2 Sv/h, i.e. a lethal dose in a few hours on site. For the broken slab of reactor No. 1, there would be “only” about 0.16 petabecquerels of cesium-137.

There would be between 232 and 357 tons of corium in this reactor, with a nominal value of 279 tons. For more information:

Réacteurs 5 et 6

Les réacteurs 5 et 6 étaient arrêtés et partiellement déchargés le 11 mars 2011. Comme un générateur diesel de secours était encore fonctionnel, cela a permis d’éviter la fusion du cœur. Ces réacteurs sont maintenant entièrement déchargés et vont être démantelés.

Contaminated water

In 2011, the water injected to cool the reactors ended up overflowing and causing the greatest marine radioactive pollution in history. In April 2011, it was the contaminated water from Reactor No. 2 discharged into the sea via an underground gallery. And, in May 2011, it was the turn of Reactor No. 3.

TEPCO estimated that 520 m3 of highly radioactive water, or 4,700 terabecquerels (1 terabecquerel represents one million million becquerels) or 20,000 times the annual discharge authorization, was released in April. More precisely, there were 2,800 terabecquerels of iodine-131, 940 terabecquerels of cesium-134 and as many of cesium-137. This release alone would deserve to be classified at level 5 or 6 on the international INES scale. The IRSN had estimated that it was 20 times higher.

The year 2013 was marked by a series of scandals following the late discovery of a leak from a contaminated water tank and discharges into the sea. The authorities reacted and the Prime Minister of the time had declared before the International Olympic Committee that the situation was under control. In 2021, the situation is still not under control and the Olympics could be cancelled because of the pandemic…

The other major challenge facing TEPCO is the contaminated water that continues to accumulate.

Summary of the situation

Fuel that has melted and pierced the tanks must always be cooled. To this end, TEPCO injects about 70 m3 of water per day into each of reactors 1, 2, and 3 (see the balance sheet dated February 8, 2021 This water becomes highly contaminated on contact with the molten fuel and seeps into the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings where it mixes with the water from the water tables that seeps in.

After the strong earthquake of February 13, 2021, TEPCO noticed that the level of water in the containments of reactors 1 and 3 had dropped

The cracks have probably widened and the company may be forced to increase the injected flow rate. For Reactor 2, it is not known because the sensors were removed to prepare for the removal of the corium.

At the beginning of the disaster, underground infiltrations amounted to about 400 m3 per day and this contaminated water had to be stored in tanks. Conversely, the water in the basement, heavily contaminated, leaked to the water table and then to the ocean.

To reduce groundwater infiltration, TEPCO pumps into the water table upstream of the reactors, before this water is contaminated and releases it directly into the ocean. It has also built a barrier along the entire coastline and also pumps groundwater at the foot of the reactors. Some of this water is partially decontaminated and released into the ocean. Another part, too contaminated, is mixed with the water pumped from the basements of the reactors to be put into tanks after treatment, while waiting for a better solution. This flow is of the order of 5 m3/d according to the report dated February 8, 2021 (between 3 (source and 8 m3/d (source in the previous reports available here

The last barrier put in place is the freezing of the ground all around the 4 accident reactors, over 1.4 km in order to stop infiltration. After many setbacks, the frost has been over since November 2017. It has reduced the infiltrations, but not stopped them. The implementation of the frozen wall cost taxpayers 34.5 billion yen (265 million euros) to which must be added more than a billion yen (8 million euros) per year for electricity.

Since then, infiltration has been less than 100 m3/d (see the balance sheet of February 8, 2021, except in the case of heavy rainfall.

Flows and stocks

TEPCO pumps the water contained in the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings of the 4 accident reactors to avoid overflows. As this water is highly contaminated, it is treated and then stored in tanks on the power plant site. Some of it is re-injected for cooling. Here is the water circuit at the Fukushima daï-ichi power plant, as represented by TEPCO

The last one of February 8, 2021 reports a surplus to be stored of 90 m3/d It rose to more than 350 m3/d in the fall of 2020 and even 600 m3/d when the typhoons passed in October 2019. In 2019, the Ministry of Industry reported an increase in water storage from 50,000 to 60,000 m3/d per year (source Here it appears that it has accumulated 1.243 million cubic meters of contaminated water TEPCO has a dedicated portal for treated contaminated water . There are 1061 tanks on the power plant site, 1018 of which contain water treated by the ALPS plant. In another 29 tanks there is water where only caesium and strontium have beenn “filtered”. There is also about 4,800 m3 of untreated water in the basements of the reactors (as of February 8, 2021

TEPCO estimates that it will no longer have room on the site of its power plant to put in new tanks from 2022. The preferred option is discharge into the sea.

What to do with this treated water?

After considering several unrealistic options, the authorities are gradually restricting the options to the discharge of treated water into the ocean, which is not a surprise. Prior to any treatment, the balance sheet shows a concentration of 65 MBq/L in the pumped water

With its ALPS station, TEPCO then removes 62 radioelements. And, officially, only tritium (radioactive hydrogen) remains in this water, because it is difficult to remove it. Since this element is released by all nuclear facilities, there must have been more problems, except for a few bad rumors …

However, as discovered in September 2018 , a large portion of the stock (currently about 72%) has not been adequately treated, and residual concentrations for some elements exceed the maximum concentrations allowed for discharge at sea

The chart below, taken from the TEPCO portal shows that for 6% of the stock, the residual contamination for 7 major radioelements is 100 times higher than what is allowed for discharge It is between 10 and 100 times for 15% of the stock.

Repurposed tanks” are tanks that contained partially treated contaminated water, where only strontium-90 had been removed. This water having been treated, the tanks are reused for water fully treated by the ALPS plant. But, as explained by TEPCO in this document (, there was still sludge at the bottom of the tank which significantly raised the contamination of the water! These tanks are therefore counted separately in the above chart.

TEPCO is committed to treating a second time the water that exceeds the discharge authorizations and has started tests in September 2020. And it was only then that the company recognized that there were other radioelements that were not removed, such as carbon-14 This element was never measured or mentioned in the results published by the company, without disturbing the Japanese nuclear regulatory authority or the IAEA, which ruled on the management of contaminated water However, carbon-14 will not be removed for all that…

Tests conducted by TEPCO show that the process can lower the residual concentration of contaminated water below the release thresholds, with the exception of tritium In fact, this is not really a novelty, since part of the stock had already been properly treated. The high residual contaminations were due to bad practices (economy on ion exchange resins, poor monitoring…). TEPCO offers no guarantee that its practices will improve and the Japanese government refuses any independent measurement of the water it wishes to discharge into the ocean

Tritium contamination, which is not removed, is, on average, 730,000 Bq/L and thus exceeds the maximum allowable concentration for ocean discharge, which is 60,000 Bq/L. TEPCO therefore wants to dilute this water before discharge to one-fortieth of the limit, i.e. 1,500 Bq/L. In addition, the inventory of tritium in the tanks would be 860 TBq, which is well above the annual discharge limit of 22 TBq. TEPCO therefore wants to spread its releases over about 30 years to meet this limit

By way of comparison, the authorization to discharge tritium into the sea at Areva’s La Hague plant is 18,500 TBq for tritium alone, and actual discharges in recent years have varied between 11,600 and 13,400 TBq per year The stock of tritium in the Fukushima tanks therefore represents two and a half weeks of discharges at La Hague. The total stock, with what remains in the fuels, is two months… This is enough to make the Japanese authorities jealous, and they are happy to point out the tritium releases from many other nuclear installations around the world (page 13 of this report from the Ministry of Industry

This map does not mention any releases in Japan! In particular, it does not mention the expected discharges from the Japanese reprocessing plant at Rokkashô-mura. The target value there is 9,700 TBq per year for tritium (source But, the plant has never started…

This was not enough to convince the people of Fukushima, who are, for the most part, opposed to dumping in the ocean. By June 2020, 17 municipalities in Fukushima had also taken a stand against it, as had the fishing industry Even Baskut Tuncak, UN Special Rapporteur since 2014 on the human rights implications of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, took part in a panel discussion. During the public consultation, 4,011 opinions were tabled and almost all were opposed to the rejection. As a result, the government decided to postpone announcing its decision

On January 28, 2021, the Japanese Ministry of Industry opened a special page dedicated to the management of the water treated by the ALPS plant, which is less detailed than its last report dated December 2020 A photo of this water is available on this page:

Feeling better?


March 4, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , | Leave a comment

8% of Japanese consumers still hesitate to buy Fukushima food products

At their own risk and peril. There is no acceptable safe threshold when it comes to radioactive contamination.

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori (left) promotes peaches from the prefecture in the city of Fukushima in July.

Feb 28, 2021

About 8.1% of consumers in Japan still hesitate to buy food products from Fukushima Prefecture almost 10 years after the March 2011 nuclear disaster, a survey by the Consumer Affairs Agency has shown.

Although the figure is the lowest since the survey started in February 2013, the finding is “very regrettable,” Shinji Inoue, minister for consumer affairs and food safety, said after the survey was released Friday. “Safety has been secured” for produce from Fukushima, he added.

The latest survey, the 14th of its kind, was carried out online on Jan. 15-19, with answers received from 5,176 people in their 20s to 60s mainly in the Tokyo metropolitan area.

The share of respondents who hesitate to buy food products from Fukushima has been on the decline since hitting 19.6% in the August 2014 survey, and fell below 10% for the first time in the latest survey.

Fukushima is home to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, the site of the triple meltdown disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

According to the survey, the share of respondents who hesitate to buy food products from Iwate, Miyagi or Fukushima prefectures dropped to a record low of 6.1%, down from 6.4% in the previous poll in February 2020. The three prefectures were hit hardest in the disaster.

A record high 62.1% of respondents said they do not know that checks for radioactive substances have been conducted on food products from disaster areas. The figure has been rising since standing at 22.4% in the first survey.

An official said the agency will continue efforts to not only boost the share of people who are aware of radiation checks but also offer all of the information available about radioactive substances in food products.

February 28, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco finishes nuclear fuel removal from Fukushima reactor pool

The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 3 reactor

Feb 28, 2021

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said Sunday it has removed all 566 nuclear fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool of the No. 3 reactor at its Fukushima No. 1 plant.

It is the first time that fuel removal has been completed for any of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in the March 2011 accident at the plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

The fuel removal operation at the No. 3 reactor began in April 2019.

On Sunday, the company using remote control devices moved the last six assemblies to a common storage facility within the plant premises. A large covering was placed over the upper part of the No. 3 reactor building to prevent radioactive substances from being scattered.

Tepco planned to start the fuel removal from the No. 3 reactor building as early as late 2014, but delayed the schedule repeatedly as it faced difficulty getting rid of debris left by the explosion in the building.

The operation also took more time than expected due to machinery malfunction issues.

The removal of 1,533 fuel assemblies from the No. 4 reactor building was completed in December 2014.

Tepco aims to finish pulling all fuel assemblies out of other reactor buildings by the end of 2031, including the No. 1 building, where a lot of debris is scattered about, and the No. 2 building, where radiation levels are particularly high.

February 28, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment

All spent fuel finally removed from reactor at Fukushima plant

Steel frames remain exposed on the wall facing north at the No. 3 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, showing the impact from a hydrogen explosion in March 2011.

February 28, 2021

Hazardous work to remove all spent nuclear fuel from a reactor storage pool at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was finally completed Feb. 28, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

It marked the first time for any of the storage pools at the three stricken reactors to be emptied out, and came less than two weeks before the 10th anniversary of the triple meltdown at the nuclear complex in Fukushima Prefecture northeast of Tokyo.

The two-year effort involved the removal of all the 566 spent fuel units left in the pool in the No. 3 reactor’s building.

Completion of the removal work at the No. 3 reactor building, severely damaged by a hydrogen explosion during the meltdown, eased concerns about the overall safety of the embattled plant.

The No. 3 reactor’s storage pool is situated on an upper floor of the building, posing a danger due to fears of another powerful earthquake damaging the structure and jeopardizing TEPCO’s ability to cool them.

Spent fuel needs to be kept cool as it emits high levels of radiation and decaying heat.

The utility planned to move the spent fuel from the No. 3 reactor’s pool to a shared pool for storage on the grounds of the plant to ensure the spent fuel can be safely managed.

The removal work got under way in April 2019 after rubble and other debris were cleared away. A special crane with a robotic arm was used to lift the spent fuel.

Operators worked remotely during the removal process from an operational center 500 meters away because of high radiation readings inside the reactor building.

The work was marred by a flurry of malfunctions in the equipment and the crane soon after the project got started.

The challenge was further complicated by rubble and debris in the pool that distorted the handles of some of the spent fuel units.

During the last stretch of the removal work, operators picked up the pace by working in shifts around the clock.

The remaining six units were transferred to the shared pool on Feb. 28. The development came roughly three years after the government and TEPCO announced an initial roadmap for the work in December 2011.

The removal of spent fuel from the No. 4 reactor building was completed in late 2014. The No. 4 reactor had been shut down for maintenance prior to the disaster triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

With regard to the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, which went in meltdown after the quake and tsunami disaster knocked out cooling systems, a combined 1,000 spent fuel units remain in their storage pools.

TEPCO is aiming at starting the removal work at the two reactors in fiscal 2024 or beyond.

Apart from the spent fuel, 800 to 900 tons of melted nuclear fuel remain in the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors.

February 28, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , | Leave a comment