Fukushima chief confident new disaster won't threaten clean-up

February 10, 2016 by Shingo Ito
View of the No. 3 reactor building during a media tour of Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plan
View of the No. 3 reactor building during a media tour of Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, on February 10, 2016

The chief of Japan's shuttered Fukushima nuclear power plant warned Wednesday that the biggest risk the crippled facility faces is another major earthquake and tsunami—though insisted the chaos of nearly five years ago won't be repeated.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 undersea earthquake off Japan's northeastern coast sparked a massive tsunami that swamped cooling systems and triggered reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, run by operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO).

Radiation spread over a wide area and forced tens of thousands of people from their homes—many of whom will likely never return—in the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

Now with the fifth anniversary of the disaster approaching next month, TEPCO opened up the facility to journalists on Wednesday to provide an update on the clean-up process, which is expected to take decades.

"If a hits and then a tsunami comes again, that would be the most tense moment for us," Akira Ono, head of the plant, told reporters when asked what would be the greatest risk to the plant.

TEPCO has been blamed for a delay in securing power to cool fuel in the reactors that triggered meltdowns and subsequent hydrogen explosions that spewed radiation over the area and forced residents to flee.

A TEPCO employee measures a radiation levels at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Okuma, on February 10, 2016
A TEPCO employee measures a radiation levels at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Okuma, on February 10, 2016

Challenges ahead

"But we will not fall into similar confusion like before," Ono said, explaining that energy levels at the plant are much lower than those after the accident, while the company has carried out disaster drills to prepare.

He also said the firm had built temporary coastal barriers that can block waves of up to 15 metres (50 feet), matching levels of the 2011 tsunami.

TEPCO opened up the Fukushima nuclear facility to members of the media on February 10, 2016
TEPCO opened up the Fukushima nuclear facility to members of the media on February 10, 2016

Some 8,000 workers, ranging from nuclear experts to civil engineers, are still battling daily to control the meltdown-hit reactors as their decommissioning process is still in the initial stage.

Some progress has been made as massive wreckage, including overturned vehicles, were removed and workers are no longer required to wear full-face masks in many areas of the site.

In a newly built rest station inside the facility, workers can have hot meals and check their radiation exposure levels through state-of-art whole-body counters.

Fukushima chief Akira Ono (centre) speaks to reporters during a media tour of TEPCO's tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant in Ok
Fukushima chief Akira Ono (centre) speaks to reporters during a media tour of TEPCO's tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant in Okuma, on February 10, 2016

But the scar of the catastrophe is still visible in other areas as steel frames gnarled by the hydrogen explosions can be seen at the plant's No. 3 reactor, where radiation levels are still extremely high.

About 1,000 huge tanks for storing contaminated cooling water occupy large parts of the site some 230 kilometres (142 miles) northeast of Tokyo.

And more tanks will be needed as massive amounts of groundwater flows into the reactors everyday and mixes with the cooling water.

Ono, the plant chief, says the reactors are now stable but need to be kept cool to prevent them running out of control again.

TEPCO estimates that it is likely to take up to four decades to completely clean up the site, but some experts warn the unprecedented decommissioning may be delayed further.

"I feel like we have just climbed over the first stage of a mountain," Ono said, using a colloquial Japanese expression meaning that only 10 percent of the journey is finished.

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gkam
1 / 5 (5) Feb 10, 2016
Not a good investment. Now that we know the effects of nukes, anyone using one which kills people should be charged with murder and hanged.

TEPCO personnel were warned about their susceptibility to large earthquakes, and they are still not in prison for their Criminal Negligence?
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2016
Now that we know the effects of nukes
We know that "no one has been killed or sickened by the radiation"
http://www.nytime...isk.html
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2016
anyone using one which kills people should be charged with murder and hanged
In this way any unscrupulous fear-monger, compulsive fibber, which induces suicides, anxieties/heart-attacks and abortions by spreading misinformation among civilians, should be charged with murder and hanged.
gkam
1.8 / 5 (5) Feb 10, 2016
You can bet TEPCO and Abe are really worried about Fukushima during the Olympics. There is no concern however for the PV plants and wind installations now substituting for Fukushima.

I want Willie to tell us where the molten blobs of intensely-radioactive Corium went in the three reactors. It is hundreds of tons of the most deadly stuff in history, and they do not know where it is, and if they knew, they could still not view it, because the intense radiation kills everything, even our hardened electronics.

Willie will go help them.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 10, 2016
the intense radiation kills everything
If only a tiny fraction of what is said by unethical scaremongers were true, then all of us would be dead.
Anti-nuclear/pro-renewables movements are plenty of pathological fibbers like gskam.
Lord_jag
3 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2016
Willie, are you trying to say that Fukushima isn't the reality of what happens when Nuclear power goes all wrong?

Those people aren't wearing Haz-Mat suits just because they feel like it.
gkam
1 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2016
Willie, why does a "clean" power source need stacks 400 feet tall?
gkam
2.6 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2016
No injuries, huh, Willie?

http://phys.org/n...byl.html
gkam
2.3 / 5 (6) Feb 11, 2016
I wonder how much this costs:

http://www.cnn.co...dex.html

Not cheap power, is it?
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2016
No injuries
renewable is worse.
"The accepted killing and maiming of animals in the name of Green energy"
http://canadafree...le/63650
"Since the blades began to spin, corpses of critically endangered birds and bats have lined the farmers' property; blades not only strike the animals mid-flight, but the turbine also lowers air pressure, causing birds' air sacs to explode, dooming them to horrific death."
http://harvardmag...-bavaria
"Since there are 22,000 turbines in Germany, the avian death toll could be tens of thousands of birds a year or even more, just in Germany"
http://eandt.thei...atid=390
"Wind, Solar Facilities Killing Millions of Birds, Other Animals"
http://news.heart...-animals
Lord_jag
3 / 5 (4) Feb 11, 2016
All the 'Merican conservatives with their guns in the deep south all seem so concerned with the welfare of wildlife.

Willie is quite the bleeding heart out to stop the death of animals in any form.

You go get em Willie. Liberal Hippy extraordinaire. Save those birds. Join PETA. Chain yourself to a wind turbine.
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Feb 11, 2016
Did Willie explain why they need 400-fioot tall stacks at a "clean" powerplant?
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 11, 2016
explain why they need 400-fioot tall stacks at a "clean" powerplant?
thermodynamic efficiency in small land area, "Stack Effect" less water due to natural-draft/convection, compact/energy dense means low impact on natural landscapes; isolated pump circuits, safe and ecologically friendly, no wind blades/solar mirror to slaughter birds and bats.
"study links taller wind turbines to more bird deaths"
"..increased bird mortality may be a result of both increased turbine height and increased rotor diameter"
"..turbine size coupled with our finding of greater bird collision mortality at taller turbines.."
http://earthtechl...-deaths/
"blades not only strike the animals mid-flight, but the turbine also lowers air pressure, causing birds' air sacs to explode, dooming them to horrific death."
http://harvardmag...-bavaria
gkam
2 / 5 (4) Feb 12, 2016
Is it the same Fukushima Chief who promised us this would not happen?
Lord_jag
3.4 / 5 (5) Feb 12, 2016
But Willie! What about the birds that would fly over this nuclear spill? Won't ANYONE think of the birds???
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2016
..spill? Won't ANYONE think of the birds???
wind spill is worse:
"1,000 litres of oil leaked from a turbine" "..and contaminate groundwater."
http://www.sunday...1.282890
"windfarm ​responsible for high levels of cancer-causing chemical in public water​ supply​"
"Test results obtained by Rachel Connor over a four-year period showed high levels of potentially cancer-causing chemical trihalomethane (THM)."
http://www.dailyr...-4881760
"Wind Turbines Kill More Birds Than BP Oil Spill"
"But oil spills the size of the BP accident don't happen every year. Deaths caused by wind turbines and solar farms, however, don't stop."
http://dailycalle...l-spill/
http://www.invest...-spills/
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 12, 2016
Fortunately, good winds are blowing toward carbon-free ecologically friendly nuclear power.
"First Korean APR-1400 1400 megawatt nuclear reactor connected to the Grid"
http://nextbigfut...att.html
http://www.world-...164.html
Nature, natural landscapes, birds and bats, is going to be saved from environmentally hypocritical means of energy production such as wind and solar.

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