Japan scientists to create controlled nuclear meltdown

January 9, 2014
In this file photo, nuclear fuel rods are seen in the spent fuel pool at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, on November 7, 2013

A team of nuclear scientists in Japan said on Thursday they plan to create a controlled reactor meltdown in a bid to learn how to deal with future disasters like that at Fukushima.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said it was working on a project using a scaled-down version of a reactor which they would deliberately cause to malfunction at a research facility in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo.

"We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future," said a spokesman for the government-backed engineering agency.

The meltdown project, which will begin some time in the fiscal year that starts in April, will use a small fuel rod that that will undergo a very rapid fission process, the spokesman said.

He said it will be the first such experiment to be carried out by the Japanese agency, although similar projects have been done in major nations with such as the United States and France.

The Japanese public has become keenly aware of nuclear safety since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake in 2011 triggered a killer tsunami that swamped the cooling system at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The plant went through meltdowns and explosions, spewing radioactive materials over a vast farming region and making parts of the area unfit for human habitation for many decades.

The planned experimental will not be designed to analyse how the Fukushima accident happened, the atomic energy agency's spokesman added.

Explore further: Small fire at Japan nuclear lab; no radiation leak

Related Stories

Small fire at Japan nuclear lab; no radiation leak

December 20, 2011

A building housing an experimental nuclear reactor in Japan caught fire Tuesday, but there was no leak of radioactive materials, officials said, amid nervousness over Japan's atomic industry.

Radioactive water 'may have leaked' from Fukushima

April 6, 2013

Radioactive water may have leaked into the ground from a tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operator said on Saturday, the latest in a series of troubles at the crippled facility.

UN atomic agency urges Fukushima safety improvements

April 22, 2013

The International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday called on the operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to improve "essential systems" as it struggles to deal with leaks and power cuts.

IAEA to advise Japan on Fukushima clean-up

October 14, 2013

Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency met Japanese officials Monday as part of a mission to assess clean-up efforts at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Japan lacks decommissioning experts for Fukushima

December 15, 2013

Japan is incapable of safely decommissioning the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant alone and must stitch together an international team for the massive undertaking, experts say, but has made only halting progress in that ...

Recommended for you

Magnetic fields provide a new way to communicate wirelessly

September 1, 2015

Electrical engineers at the University of California, San Diego demonstrated a new wireless communication technique that works by sending magnetic signals through the human body. The new technology could offer a lower power ...

5 comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Returners
1.5 / 5 (4) Jan 09, 2014
You know, why not just ask the other countries for the results of their experiments?
Maggnus
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2014
Because experiments are how you learn new things.
goracle
5 / 5 (5) Jan 09, 2014
You know, why not just ask the other countries for the results of their experiments?

Because those experiments were done with different systems, perhaps many years ago?
kochevnik
5 / 5 (3) Jan 09, 2014
Can't they study their uncontrolled nuclear meltdown first?
Whydening Gyre
5 / 5 (1) Jan 10, 2014
Because experiments are how you learn new things.

Truth, Magnus. However, I find it oddly disconcerting that this wasn't considered a necessary experiment prior to building so many potentially "melt down"-able units in the first place.
They coulda learned something...
And Kochevnik - That was funny..

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.