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TEPCO transfers some fuel from Fukushima plant No. 3 unit pool

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This photo taken from a Kyodo News helicopter shows a trailer (bottom center) thought to be carrying nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
April 23, 2019
FUKUSHIMA, Japan(Kyodo) — The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant said Tuesday it has transferred some nuclear fuel from one of the reactor buildings damaged by hydrogen explosions in the 2011 disaster to another location for safer storage and management.
It was the first removal of such fuel from storage pools of the Nos. 1 to 3 units, which suffered meltdowns after losing power in the crisis triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Seven unspent fuel rod assemblies were transferred Tuesday to a common pool about 100 meters away, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.
The transfer of nuclear fuel, which emits high levels of radiation, from the No. 3 unit pool is expected to lower the risk of the decommissioning work. The utility began the process of removing fuel there on April 15.
At around 11:15 a.m. Tuesday, a trailer began relocating the fuel assemblies, placed in a cylinder-shaped cask, to the common pool. The task was completed in about 20 minutes, carried out by about a dozen workers donning protective gear.
Since the common pool undergoes regular checkups required by law, the fuel transfer will be suspended possibly until July, the operator said.
TEPCO aims to transfer all of the remaining 559 spent and unspent fuel assemblies in the No. 3 unit storage pool to the common pool by March 2021.
The fuel removal at the No. 3 unit was originally scheduled to start in late 2014, but was pushed back multiple times as high levels of radiation, among other factors, caused delays in preparation of fuel transfer.
In fiscal 2023, the utility aims to start the task of removing fuel at the storage pools of the Nos. 1-2 units and has been assessing their surroundings.
Even if the fuel removal work progresses smoothly, TEPCO still faces the biggest challenge involved in the decommissioning of the crippled plant — retrieval of melted fuel that has dripped down in the containment vessels — at the Nos. 1-3 units.
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April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Removal of fuel in pool at Fukushima’s melted reactor begins

WireAP_3934906a98594efcb9b18a9003f893ac_12x5_992
A Tokyo Electric Power Co. worker explains the operation at Unit 3 of Fukushima nuclear plant, in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan Monday. April 15, 2019. The operator of the tsunami-wrecked nuclear plant has begun removing fuel from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in the decades-long process to decommission the plant.

 

April 15, 2019
The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant began removing fuel Monday from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in what will be a decades-long process to decommission the facility.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said workers started removing the first of 566 used and unused fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool located high up in reactor buildings are intact despite the disaster, but the pools are not enclosed, so removing the units to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major earthquake similar to the one that caused the 2011 tsunami.
TEPCO says the removal at Unit 3 will take two years, followed by the two other reactors, where about 1,000 fuel units remain in the storage pools.
Removing fuel units from the cooling pools comes ahead of the real challenge of removing melted fuel from inside the reactors, but details of how that might be done are still largely unknown. Removing the fuel in the cooling pools was delayed more than four years by mishaps, high radiation and radioactive debris from an explosion that occurred at the time of the reactor meltdowns, underscoring the difficulties that remain.
Workers are remotely operating a crane built underneath a jelly roll-shaped roof cover to raise the fuel from a storage rack in the pool and place it into a protective cask. The whole process occurs underwater to prevent radiation leaks. Each cask will be filled with seven fuel units, then lifted from the pool and lowered to a truck that will transport the cask to a safer cooling pool elsewhere at the plant.
The work is carried out remotely from a control room about 500 meters (yards) away because of still-high radiation levels inside the reactor building that houses the pool.
“I believe everything is going well so far,” plant chief Tomohiko Isogai told Japanese public broadcaster NHK. “We will watch the progress at the site as we put safety first. Our goal is not to rush the process but to carefully proceed with the decommissioning work.”
About an hour after the work began Monday, the first fuel unit was safely stored inside the cask, TEPCO spokesman Takahiro Kimoto said. Monday’s operation was to end after a fourth unit is placed inside the cask, he said. No major damage was found on the fuel unit Monday, but plant officials will closely examine if there are any pinholes or other irregularities, Kimoto said.
The removal, however, raises a storage capacity concern at the plant because the common pool, where fuel from the Unit 3 pool heads to, already has 6,000 fuel units and is almost full. Kimoto said TEPCO has made room at the common pool for the incoming fuel by moving years-old and sufficiently cooled fuel into dry casks for safer, long-term storage, though further details are being worked out.
In 2014, TEPCO safely removed all 1,535 fuel units from the storage pool at a fourth reactor that was idle and had no fuel inside its core when the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami occurred.
Robotic probes have photographed and detected traces of damaged nuclear fuel in the three reactors that had meltdowns, but the exact location and other details of the melted fuel are largely unknown. Removing fuel from the cooling pools will help free up space for the subsequent removal of the melted fuel, though details on how to gain access to it have yet to be decided.
Experts say the melted fuel in the three reactors amounts to more than 800 tons, an enormous amount that is more than six times that of the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island, where one reactor had a partial core melt.
In February, a remote-controlled robot with tongs removed pebbles of nuclear debris from the Unit 2 reactor but was unable to remove larger chunks, indicating a robot would need to be developed that can break the chunks into smaller pieces. Toshiba Corp.’s energy systems unit, which developed the robot, said the findings were key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the melted fuel, the most challenging part of the decommissioning.
TEPCO and government officials plan to determine methods for removing the melted fuel from each of the three damaged reactors later this year so they can begin the process in 2021.

April 23, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Unclear debris map casts shadow over decommissioning of Fukushima plant

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Pebble-like sediment believed to be nuclear fuel debris is lifted by a special device inside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.
April 9, 2019
TOKYO — The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) are set to launch full-scale probes of the inside of the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors at the disaster-stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station this fiscal year, in an attempt to determine which reactor to work on first to remove fuel debris — a critical step for decommissioning the facility.
However, the interior of the No. 2 reactor, which is most likely to be the first to go through the debris removal process, has turned out to be different from what had originally been expected, underscoring the difficulties entailing the removal work. Since many companies are involved in the process, how to pass down the know-how acquired over the course of the more than 30 year-decommissioning process also poses a challenge.
“At present, it is difficult to clearly say we are going to remove all fuel debris,” said Akira Ono, who leads the decommissioning project, at a regular press conference by TEPCO on March 28, while noting that the utility will not back down from its ultimate goal of full debris removal.
If TEPCO fails to take out all debris from the nuclear plant, the very premise for dismantling the facility and returning the plot to its original state will be undermined. Such a scenario would adversely affect the disaster recovery plans envisaged by the national government and the Fukushima Prefectural Government. While awareness about the difficulty of debris removal has been shared among concerned parties, the actual dismal situation had not been recognized until TEPCO conducted the first debris survey at the No. 2 reactor on Feb. 13.
In that survey, a remotely controlled special device that was injected into the No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel succeeded in lifting portions of sediment accumulated at the bottom, which were believed to be fuel debris. Officials involved were relieved because they “had been worried the material would not move at all,” according to Ono.
The radiation level of the material, measured at a distance of some 30 centimeters, was 7.6 sieverts per hour, far less than anticipated. If the sediment contained a good portion of nuclear fuel, the radiation doses ought to have been several hundred sieverts per hour, even eight years after the 2011 nuclear meltdowns.
This finding suggested that the sediment that TEPCO came in contact with in the survey was not the main nuclear fuel debris it was looking for. Many speculate that the surface of the sediment may mainly consist of metals including cladding tubes that used to cover nuclear fuels.
The question now is whether fuel debris exists beneath the surface of the sediment or if nuclear fuel still remains within the reactor pressure vessel, or even somewhere else. There are currently no prospects for TEPCO to ascertain an accurate distributions of debris.
The material that was lifted in the survey mostly comprised pebble-like sediment, weighing less than 1 kilogram in total. Meanwhile, fuel debris generated in the core meltdowns is estimated to total 237 metric tons at the No. 2 reactor alone and a combined 880 tons at the No. 1 through No. 3 reactors.
At the No. 2 reactor, TEPCO will conduct a more detailed survey on debris possibly in the latter half of this fiscal year and attempt to collect small amounts of samples. At the No. 1 reactor, several apparatus including a robot submarine will be used to launch a full-scale survey inside the reactor to try to collect debris this fiscal year. As for the No. 3 reactor, the power company is apparently planning to prioritize removal of spent fuel, as related devices have gone through a series of glitches.
Unlike the other reactors, the No. 2 reactor did not suffer a hydrogen explosion in the 2011 disaster. Therefore, the No. 2 reactor remains the primary candidate for the first full-scale debris removal work, which is hoped to start in 2021.
With regard to the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, the utility has yet to be able to reach materials appearing to be debris. The decommissioning of the nuclear plant is scheduled to be completed in 2051, a full 40 years after the triple meltdowns, but a concrete path toward that goal is not yet in sight.
“We have no choice but to remove whichever debris we can,” said a senior official with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Naoyuki Takaki, professor of nuclear engineering at Tokyo City University, commented, “There could ultimately be a decision to stop debris removal after pulling out as much debris as possible. In that case, we would have no option but to consider building a sarcophagus like the one at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.”

April 14, 2019 Posted by | fukushima 2019 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima city to remove statue clad in radiation protective gear

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Children on Aug. 3 pose in front of Kenji Yanobe’s Sun Child statue in Fukushima city.
 
August 29, 2018
FUKUSHIMA–Fukushima city will remove a large statue of an injured child wearing a yellow hazmat suit after complaints rolled in that the artwork grossly exaggerates the damage from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“It is difficult to keep displaying a controversial work of art as a symbol of reconstruction,” Fukushima Mayor Hiroshi Kohata said on Aug. 28.
The 6.2-meter-tall Sun Child statue, weighing about 800 kilograms, was created by contemporary artist Kenji Yanobe, 52, a professor at the Kyoto University of Art and Design.
The statue, which was installed on Aug. 3, is supposed to represent hope for reconstruction from the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant that started after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami hit the Tohoku region on March 11, 2011.
The Sun Child, staring out toward the sky, holds a hazmat helmet in his left hand and has scars and bruises on his face. A Geiger counter embedded in the statue’s chest is set at zero.
A civic group donated the statue, which depicts the hopes of a “future free from the nuclear disaster,” to the city.
After the city government set up the statue at a facility that provides information about radiation and has playground equipment, it received nearly 60 complaints from residents.
One noted that a radiation counter reading of zero is impossible even in nature.
Another complaint said,” (City residents) didn’t have to wear radiation protective gear at the time of the disaster so that (hazmat suit) could lead to misunderstandings.”
From Aug. 18 to Aug. 27, the city conducted a questionnaire covering 110 visitors to the site of the statue. Seventy-five of the respondents demanded the removal or relocation of the statue, compared with 22 who wanted the statue to remain.
Kohata acknowledged a lack of consensus-building before the Sun Child was erected.
Sculptor Yanobe also accepted the city’s decision to remove his artwork.
“We came to the conclusion that we should stop displaying the statue if it torments people,” he said. “Even after the statue is removed, I want to talk to residents. I am currently coordinating my schedule (to visit Fukushima).”
Maki Sahara, 46, director of a Fukushima-based NPO that spreads information about protection against radiation, criticized the government’s handling of the statue.
“The city was too hasty in deciding to set up the statue and to remove it,” Sahara said. “The Sun Child could have triggered discussions on radiation among residents. What a shame that the city spoiled the chance.”
Yasuko Araki, chief curator at the prefectural museum, which displays a one-tenth scale model of the Sun Child, said it has received no complaints.
But she said the city government was ill-prepared.
“Viewers’ impressions of works of art at the museum differ from those that appear in public spaces,” she said. “The city should have devised ways to explain the process of creating the Sun Child.”
(This article was compiled from reports by Morikazu Kogen, Hikari Maruyama and Hiroshi Fukatsu.)

September 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Locals opposed to removal of most dosimeters in Fukushima

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A radiation monitoring post set up near the entrance to an elementary school in Tadami, Fukushima Prefecture, is planned to be removed.
July 9, 2018
TADAMI, Fukushima Prefecture–Officials and residents in Fukushima Prefecture are opposing the central government plan to remove 80 percent of the radiation dosimeters set up in the wake of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) in March announced plans to remove 2,400 of the 3,000 monitoring posts by fiscal 2020 in areas where dose rates have fallen and keep the remaining 600 in 12 municipalities around the plant.
About 20 residents on June 25 attended a meeting here during which the NRA secretariat explained a plan to remove seven of nine monitoring posts in the town, including those installed at three elementary and junior high schools.
Shoji Takeyama, head of the secretariat’s monitoring information section, asked the residents to understand the objectives of the move.
“We believe that continuous measuring is unnecessary in areas where dose rates are low and stable,” Takeyama said. “The equipment requires huge maintenance costs. We have to effectively use the limited amount of funds.”
Residents expressed opposition.
One described the plan as being “out of the question,” saying that the shipment of edible wild plants and mushrooms in Tadami was prohibited although the town is far from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The secretariat emphasized that two portable monitoring posts will remain in the town.
NRA officials have said dose rates have significantly dropped in areas other than those near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, annual maintenance costs for monitoring posts total 400 million yen ($3.64 million) and that the dosimeters will soon reach the end of their 10-year operating lives.
In late June, the NRA was forced to suspend the plan to remove 27 monitoring posts in Nishigo after the village assembly adopted a statement opposing the plan, saying that sufficient explanations have not been provided to residents.
The Aizu-Wakamatsu city government in May submitted a request to continue operating monitoring posts to the NRA.
The city argues “there are citizens who are concerned about the radiation’s potential impact on their health and possible accidents that could happen during decommissioning work, and such people can feel relieved by visually checking dose rates constantly with monitoring systems.”
The prefectural government says it is “calling on the central government to proceed with the plan while winning consent from residents at the same time.”
A citizens group has sent a statement to the prefectural government and seven cities and towns, calling for maintaining monitoring posts. It has also collected more than 2,000 signatures on a petition to be submitted to the NRA.
Yumi Chiba, 48, a co-leader of the group, said authorities should take into account the reality surrounding those residing in Fukushima Prefecture.
“What is important is not knowing the average but identifying where dose rates are higher,” said Chiba, who lives in Iwaki in the prefecture. “I would like authorities to consider the circumstances facing residents.”
The NRA plans to offer explanations to residents according to requests. The gathering in Tadami was the first of its kind, and similar meetings are planned in Kitakata, Aizu-Wakamatsu and Koriyama on July 16, July 28 and Aug. 5, respectively.
The NRA is also making arrangements to hold meetings in 15 other municipalities.

July 19, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Prefecture radiation monitoring posts installed after 3/11 hit by glitches, radiation monitors in Fukushima broken, malfunctioned 4,000 times

Local citizens’ groups in Fukushima are requesting the authority not to remove radiation monitoring posts.
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A radiation monitoring device is installed at a park in the city of Fukushima.
This file photo dated February 24, 2017 shows a radiation monitoring device in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Some 3,000 radiation monitoring devices installed in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear accident have been hit by glitches and other problems nearly 4,000 times, sources familiar with the matter said Sunday.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority, which operates the devices called monitoring posts, is planning to remove around 80 percent of them by the end of fiscal 2020 on grounds that radiation levels in some areas have fallen and steadied.
But the move can also be seen as an attempt to cut costs as the government is expected to terminate by the same year a special budget account for rebuilding northeastern Japan areas affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis.
Some local governments and residents have opposed the planned removal of monitoring posts, expressing concerns about their health.
Around 3,000 monitoring posts were installed in locations such as kindergartens and schools to measure radiation levels in the air, according to the NRA.
But during the five years since fully starting the operation of the devices in fiscal 2013, the monitoring system has been hit by problems, such as showing inaccurate readings and failing to transmit data, some 3,955 times.
The makers of the device and security system companies were called each time to fix the problems. Managing the monitoring posts has cost the central government about 500 million yen ($4.5 million) a year.
In March, the NRA decided to remove some 2,400 monitoring devices set in areas other than 12 municipalities near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and reuse some of them in the municipalities.
A citizens group in the city of Koriyama has requested the authority not to remove the monitoring posts until the decommissioning work is completed at the plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.

May 21, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Debris extraction method at Fukushima nuclear plant to be revealed

A state-backed entity is expected to soon compile a plan for decommissioning the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, unveiling how to extract fuel debris from three reactors for the first time, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.

The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., tasked with providing technical support for decommissioning the complex, is mulling proposing a method to remove nuclear debris without fully filling their reactor containment structures with water, the sources said.

It means the debris inside the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi complex is likely to be shaved off gradually with a drill or laser equipment, while pouring water shower under a remotely controlled operation, the sources said.

A method to fulfill reactor containers with water first is effective in blocking radiation from spreading but the entity decided not to adopt the approach as the three reactor containers are believed to have been damaged and water would likely leak.

july 5 2017 fuel debris removal.jpgShown in red is melted nuclear fuel, or nuclear debris. Shown in black is a drill or laser for scraping off the debris.

 

Under the method the entity currently envisions, some part of debris would remain in the air during the operation so a major challenge facing the debris extraction work is how to shield radiation and prevent debris from flying off.

While debris in the reactors has yet to be directly confirmed and information on the exact locations and conditions is limited, the extraction work, the most difficult part of the decommission project, is expected to proceed in stages from the side of the bottom part of each reactor container while ensuring safety measures, the sources said.

Based on the decommission plan to be compiled by the entity, the government and the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. are expected to determine a debris extraction scheme for each reactor building this summer and possibly review a road map for decommissioning the complex as well, the sources added.

Decommissioning the crippled reactors is expected to take at least 30 to 40 years.

The current road map calls for completion of a plan on how to extract debris from each reactor this summer and finalizing a detailed method for at least one of the three units in the first half of fiscal 2018 to begin the extraction operation in 2021.

Following a magnitude-9.0 earthquake in March 2011, tsunami waves inundated the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, and flooded power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered fuel meltdowns, while hydrogen explosions damaged the buildings housing the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 units.

At least 150,000 people in Fukushima were forced to live as evacuees amid radiation fears. While some have returned to their homes, the utility known as Tepco and the government face enormous challenges in scrapping the crippled reactors.

The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation entity was established after the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, to help the utility pay damages for the calamity. The state-backed entity holds a majority stake in Tepco.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/07/ddee4ff9fec7-debris-extraction-method-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-to-be-revealed.html

 

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fuel debris extraction plan for crippled Fukushima reactors to be revealed soon: sources

n-fukushima-a-20170706-870x328.jpgA series of photos taken on Jan. 30 shows the inside of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s reactor 2 pressure vessel. A specific method for removing debris is set to be revealed soon

 

A state-backed entity is close to completing a plan for decommissioning the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, detailing for the first time how it hopes to extract fuel debris from three reactors, sources said.

The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., tasked with providing technical support for decommissioning the complex, may propose a method to remove nuclear debris without completely filling the reactor containment vessels with water, the sources said Tuesday.

The plan means the debris inside reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 complex is likely to be shaved off gradually with a drill or laser equipment as a shower of water is poured remotely, the sources said.

Filling reactor containment vessels with water before removing the debris is seen as effective in blocking the spread of radiation, but the entity decided not to adopt the approach because they fear water may leak from the damaged structures, the sources said.

In the method currently being weighed, some debris would remain in the air during the operation, posing a major challenge in efforts to block radiation and prevent debris from flying off, the sources said.

While debris has yet to be directly confirmed and information on exact locations and conditions is limited, the extraction work — the most difficult part of the decommissioning project — is expected to proceed in stages from the side of the bottom part of each reactor containment vessel, the sources said.

Based on the plan, the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., are expected to determine a course of action for each reactor building this summer, possibly reviewing a road map for decommissioning the entire complex as well, the sources added.

Decommissioning the crippled reactors is expected to take at least 30 to 40 years.

The current road map calls for a debris-extraction plan for each reactor by this summer, with a detailed plan for at least one of the units ready in the first half of fiscal 2018. Extraction work would begin in 2021.

Following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake in March 2011, tsunami waves inundated the six-reactor plant, located on ground 10 meters above sea level, flooding power supply facilities. Reactor cooling systems were crippled and reactors 1, 2 and 3 suffered fuel meltdowns, while hydrogen explosions damaged the buildings housing reactors 1, 3 and 4.

At least 150,000 people in Fukushima were forced to live as evacuees amid radiation fears. While some have returned to their homes, Tepco and the government face enormous challenges in scrapping the reactors.

The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation entity was established after the crisis, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, to help the utility pay damages. The state-backed entity holds a majority stake in Tepco.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/07/05/national/group-mulls-fukushima-no-1-melted-fuel-debris-extraction-without-filling-containment-vessels-water/

 

July 6, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

How will melted fuel at Fukushima plant be removed?

Japan Nuclear

Naohiro Masuda, head of decommissioning for the damaged Fukushima

On March 2, 2016, five years after the meltdown caused by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, Naohiro Masuda the Chief Decommissioning Officer of the Fukushima nuclear plant said that operators have yet to locate where the melted nuclear fuel has gone: “There are melted fuels in units 1, 2 and 3,” Masuda said. “Frankly, we do not really know what the situation is for these (melted fuel), nor where it has gone.”

One year later the melted fuel has not yet been located with certainty. The two major problems are first to find where it is, and if found how to remove it from where it is. Both jobs rendered extremely difficult by high levels radiation frying the robots’ electronic semiconductors….

How will melted fuel at Fukushima plant be removed?

The Mainichi answers common questions readers may have about how disaster-response workers plan to remove melted fuel from the disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
Question: What methods are being considered for removing the fuel?

Answer: Innovation will be needed in order to avoid exposing people to radiation, due to the high levels of radiation released from the fuel. One method under consideration is to fill the containment vessels holding the fuel with water, since water has radiation-blocking properties.

Q: Aren’t the containment vessels ruptured?

A: Just like you can’t fill a cup with water if it has a hole in it, the water-filling method won’t work if the containment vessels are ruptured. If they are, then another possible method is removing the fuel from the air.

Q: Which way is better?

A: Both have advantages and disadvantages. The water method could require finding and patching holes in the containment vessels. The air method wouldn’t need this, but could cause dust and other particles containing radiation to be released. The national government and plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will discuss as early as this summer about these two plans.

Q: What is the fuel like now?

A: At the time of the meltdown, the reactors at the plant were heated to over 2,000 degrees Celsius. The melted fuel is thought to have mixed with equipment in the plant, concrete and other materials, and to have cooled to a rock-like state. It will have to be cut out and removed.

Q: How will the fuel be cut loose?

A: The plan is to use a remotely-controlled robot. However, high-tech electronics using semiconductors are easily broken by radiation. There are ideas to make the robot use hydraulics or springs for its movement, to make it resistant to the radiation. Robot technology will be the key to a successful decommissioning of the reactors.

(Answers by Mirai Nagira, Science & Environment News Department)

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170305/p2a/00m/0na/007000c

 

March 6, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear Power Protest Tents in Tokyo Removed

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Japanese officials led a predawn raid on August 21st to forcibly remove the protracted anti-nuclear power sit-in protest in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) headquarters in central Tokyo. At around 3.30 a.m., some 100 security guards and court officials descended on the so-called “No Nukes Plaza,” a collection of tents that had occupied a corner of land in front of METI in government district of Kasumigaseki since September 11th, 2011.

It had been the longest surviving example of Japan’s post-Fukushima protest movement. The weekly Friday night vigils outside the nearby prime minister’s residence have also continued, albeit with far fewer participant numbers than their peak in 2012, when tens of thousands were gathering in Kasumigaseki.

The protest tents were started by veteran left-wing activists from Japan’s postwar period, though it was supported by a younger generation of activists. It soon achieved a significant level of international attention and mainstream press coverage. The “plaza” evolved into a polestar for the movement, hosting talks, film screenings, and other events that strove to keep the debate over nuclear power in the public eye. One of the tents was even turned into a de facto art museum with Fukushima-inspired exhibits.

The administration of Yoshihiko Noda of the Democratic Party of Japan (now the Democratic Party) left the tents alone, but following the return to power of Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party in late 2012, the government made it a priority to remove the protesters. In 2013, the government filed for the removal of the tents, which were manned 24 hours a day by activists. After this was approved by the courts, the activists appealed, claiming it was tantamount to suppressing freedom of speech and the right to free assembly, which is protected by the Constitution of Japan. The court also ordered the protesters to pay a daily fee of over \20,000 (approx. $200) for using government land.

In addition to the authorities, the protesters also attracted enemies from Japan’s ultra-nationalists. Beginning soon after they were erected, the tents were subject to regular attacks by right-wing activists and groups, including one as recently as the weekend before the eviction.

In July, the Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling that the tents could be removed, meaning the protestors were out of legal options and effectively on borrowed time. METI officials no doubt deliberately chose the early morning to enforce the eviction so as to circumvent any resistance: the protesters were supported by a number of leftist activists known for aggressive hate speech counter-protests and who could be mobilized quickly.

When officials came to dismantle the tents, five activists were reportedly inside but were powerless to stop the proceedings, which took around 90 minutes. By Sunday morning, the tents were completely removed and the area where they previously stood was fenced off. Erecting any new tents was now impossible, but activists have vowed to continue their protest by sitting on chairs and standing at the same corner. Police initially blockaded even the sidewalks for some of Sunday, in fear of a backlash from the activists, though did relent and allow demonstrators to return to the site of their protest. One activist was arrested following a confrontation with police but was later released.

The anti-nuclear protest tents came to be seen as one of the pivotal aspects of the post-Fukushima movement, which blamed METI and the government for the crisis. Occupying the site was arguably just a symbolic gesture, but nonetheless an important one for Japan, where public land is strictly controlled and police and private security are quick to pounce on people who squat. No one else dared to do this kind of protest: the Friday night vigils pack up and go home at 8 p.m., and likewise the student group SEALDs, which generated much press coverage last year for its protests against the government’s controversial security legislation, was orderly and even praised for picking up trash after its demonstrations at Kasumigaseki.

As such, the tents were a renegade and unrepentant presence in the protest culture of Japan, and a constant reminder that the problems of Fukushima have still not been resolved even more than five years after the disaster.

The timing of the removal is also significant. It came shortly before the fifth anniversary of the sit-in, as well as during protests over the restarting of a reactor at Ikata Nuclear Power Plant. Unrest currently continues in Okinawa, too, as demonstrators clash daily with hundreds of riot police protecting the construction of new United States military helipads in the jungle near Takae.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/09/anti-nuclear-power-protest-tents-in-tokyo-removed/

September 9, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear power protest tents forcibly removed from outside ministry

Yesterday I wrote a long-ish post about last weekend’s attack on the anti-nuclear power protest tents that have occupied a corner of land outside the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in Kasumigaseki since 2011. I included some of the history of the tents and resistance against the orders calling for their removal. After the Supreme Court rejected the activists’ final appeal in late July, the end seemed nigh and it seems I jumped the gun.

The post about last week’s incident swiftly became obsolete when around 100 security guards and court officials arrived at the tents in the early hours of today, August 21st. Starting at 3.30 a.m. on the 1,807th day of the sit-in, it took all of 90 minutes for them to remove the tents, placards and other materials that were the signs of a five-year protest movement. There were apparently some five activists staying at the tents overnight but they could do nothing to prevent the removal.

 

The choice of the early morning to enforce the eviction was surely a deliberate one to avoid trouble with protestors. If it had been during the daytime, the activists could have quickly mobilised dozens, maybe even hundreds, of supporters, as we saw at last weekend’s incident. Earlier on August 21st, police and security guards completely barricaded the corner of the street in a show of force in case there was an ugly response from activists.

Today there was also a demonstration by a hate group in Kawaguchi City, on the outskirts of Tokyo, which consumed the manpower of the counter-protest group C.R.A.C., who otherwise may have rallied activists to the ministry.

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Ironically, I had been planning to go see the tents today, since I knew it might be my last chance. In the end, I missed my opportunity. Nonetheless I went to see the aftermath and found a mood that was muted yet resilient. There were no more tents; the iconic facade of the site was gone, replaced by large fences obstructing any new tents from being erected. But still there were some 15 protestors sitting on chairs, banners unfurled on the pavement and flags stuck into the hedges. A couple of activists were banging a drum. There was a police presence, of course: a few officers and some riot police vans. A random rightist was spewing forth anger at the protestors from the street while being physically held back by police officers. You can just about see him in the right of the photograph below.

 

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Earlier an activist had been arrested and was being held at a police station in Marunouchi, and many of others had gone there to call for his or her release. By chance, Masami Yoshizawa from Kibō no Bokujō (Farm of Hope) was also in the area, driving around a car with a fake cow on a trailer. He has previously brought actual diseased cattle to Tokyo in an attempt to remind bureaucrats of the continuing plight of Fukushima.

The activists told me that they would be continuing the protest at the site, only no longer with tents. Alternatively known in English as the Occupy Tents, Anti-Nuclear Occupy Tent, No Nukes Plaza or Tent Plaza, the central structures are now gone but the idea of the “plaza” survives.

However, Japan’s relatively harsh rules on public assembly may make it harder for protestors to gather at the location in greater numbers for events like they used to, since now they will literally just be standing or sitting on the street. In theory, any public demonstration is required to be registered with police in advance.

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In my post on August 20th, I wrote that “the fury of Fukushima lives on in Kasumigaseki”. Was that too optimistic? We shall see.

WILLIAM ANDREWS

https://throwoutyourbooks.wordpress.com/2016/08/21/anti-nuclear-power-protest-tents-forcibly-removed-ministry/

August 21, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , , , | Leave a comment