Extreme makeover: Fukushima nuclear plant tries image overhaul

August 3, 2018 by Anne Beade
Officials have been gradually trying to rebrand the Fukushima nuclear plant, bringing in school groups, diplomats and other visitors

Call it an extreme makeover: In Japan's Fukushima, officials are attempting what might seem impossible, an image overhaul at the site of the worst nuclear meltdown in decades.

At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, there's a flashy new administrative building, debris has been moved and covered, and officials tout the "light" radioactive security measures now possible.

"You see people moving around on foot, just in their uniforms. Before that was banned," an official from the plant's operator TEPCO says.

"These cherry blossoms bloom in the spring," he adds, gesturing to nearby foliage.

If it sounds like a hard sell, that might be because the task of rehabilitating the plant's reputation is justifiably Herculean.

In 2011, a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed thousands and prompted the meltdown of several reactors.

It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, and has had devastating psychological and financial effects on the region.

But TEPCO officials have been gradually trying to rebrand the plant, bringing in school groups, diplomats and other visitors, and touting a plan to attract 20,000 people a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Summer Olympics.

Upbeat messaging from Fukushima's operator TEPCO belies the enormity of the challenge to decommission the plant

Officials point out that protective gear is no longer needed in most of the plant, except for a small area, where some 3,000 to 4,000 workers are still decontaminating the facility.

Since May, visitors have been able to move around near the reactors on foot, rather than only in vehicles, and they can wear "very light equipment," insists TEPCO spokesman Kenji Abe.

That ensemble includes trousers, long sleeves, a disposable face mask, glasses, gloves, special shoes and two pairs of socks, with the top pair pulled up over the trouser hem to seal the legs underneath.

And of course there's a geiger counter.

The charm offensive extends beyond the plant, with TEPCO in July resuming television and billboard adverts for the first time since 2011, featuring a rabbit mascot with electrical bolt whiskers called "Tepcon".

But the upbeat messaging belies the enormity of the task TEPCO faces to decommission the plant.

It has installed an "icewall" that extends deep into the ground around the plant in a bid to prevent groundwater seeping in and becoming decontaminated, or radioactive water from inside flowing out to the sea.

About 100,000 litres of water still seeps into the plant each day, which requires extensive treatment to reduce its radioactivity

But about 100,000 litres (26,400 gallons) of water still seeps into the plant each day, some of which is used for cooling. It requires extensive treatment to reduce its radioactivity.

Once treated, the water is stored in tanks, which have multiplied around the plant as officials wrangle over what to do with the contaminated liquid.

There are already nearly 900 tanks containing a million cubic metres of water—equal to about 400 Olympic swimming pools.

And the last stage of decommissioning involves the unprecedented task of extracting molten nuclear fuel from the reactors.

"There was the Chernobyl accident, but they didn't remove the debris," said Katsuyoshi Oyama, who holds the title of TEPCO's "risk communicator".

"So for what we have to do here, there is no reference."

Explore further: Fuel removal device installed at meltdown-hit Fukushima reactor

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13 comments

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WillieWard
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 03, 2018
"the worst nuclear meltdown in decades"
Zero deaths from radiation exposure, while air pollution from fossil fuels(backup for intermittent renewables) respects no border and kills millions of people every year.
"a massive earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami that killed thousands and prompted the meltdown of several reactors."
Anti-nuclear faux-greens fearmongers, in the pocket of fossil fuel interests, are always trying to put into account of carbon-free nuclear the deaths caused by the Tsunami.
During a flight, people receive more radiation(up to 65mSv) than visiting Chernobyl(5mSv) or Fukushima(20mSv).
"Fukushima Diaries The picture painted by anti-nuclear fear mongers does not match reality. Visit Fukushima with these three witnesses."
https://www.youtu...l_MaRngI
https://www.youtu...gLGA5TpM
"In truth, nuclear power is the best energy source, in all respects. That's why greens are forced to use lies to fight nuclear power."
gkam
1 / 5 (5) Aug 03, 2018
Here, we are closing nuke after nuke. California, which leads the way to the future, is closing its last two units soon. We do not need nuclear power with all its problems. My house and horsepower come from my solar PV system.
Eikka
4.2 / 5 (5) Aug 03, 2018
It was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, and has had devastating psychological and financial effects on the region.


Fukushima: 340–800 PBq, with 80% falling into the Pacific Ocean.
Radiation levels exceeding annual limits seen over 60 kilometres (37 mi) to northwest and 40 kilometres (25 mi) to south-southwest
Population relocated 154,000

Chernobyl: 5,200 PBq falling all over Europe.
An area up to 500 kilometres (310 mi) away contaminated
Population relocated 550,000

The comparison they're making is like calling a car crash the next worst accident since a train pileup.
Eikka
3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 03, 2018
Here, we are closing nuke after nuke. California, which leads the way to the future, is closing its last two units soon. We do not need nuclear power with all its problems.


https://www.scien...14003085

Our analysis indicates that the 2013 shutdown of the state׳s San Onofre plant raised the CAISO real-time hourly market prices by $6/MWH to $9/MWH


My house and horsepower come from my solar PV system.


In your imagination.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2018
Here, we are closing nuke after nuke. California, which leads the way to the future, is closing its last two units soon.
It will be replaced by gas/fracking "greenwashed" by intermittent renewables.
NASA scientists pointed out a problem(greenhouse gases) and gave the solution(carbon-free nuclear power) but the Eco-nuts came up with sunshine&breeze alternative energy which academic alarmists & mainstream mass media(in the pocket of fossil fuel interests) gave full support.
https://pbs.twimg...L16C.jpg
"If de-carbonizing energy production is the greatest challenge to humanity, nuclear...will be a major part of the solution."
https://www.wsj.c...29618441

"A carbon tax will kill renewable deployment because it will increase the price of natural gas which is a backup for RE. But it will make nuclear power immediately profitable. This is why a lot of "greens" are really against it deep in their hearts."
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Aug 04, 2018
Argue all you want: Nukes are losing. We cannot afford their costs and their failures.

Meanwhile, our PV solar system has paid for itself, and now our power is free. That makes a big difference since we drive electrically.
WillieWard
3 / 5 (4) Aug 04, 2018
Meanwhile, our PV solar system has paid for itself, and now our power is free. That makes a big difference since we drive electrically.
If it were possible to convert the greenies' lies into electricity, it could power the whole world uninterruptedly 24/7/365 forever.

Meanwhile in the real world:
"World's Most Expensive Joke: $2 Trillion Squandered on Wind & Solar (So Far)…" - Aug 4, 2018
https://stopthese...-so-far/

UNRELIABLES - Wind & Solar 'power' - are NOT "Clean, Green" nor "Renewable"!
They are the exact opposite.
And, they rely on "dirty" fossil fuels for:
- Mining rare earth
- Production
- Transportation
- Installation
- Service
- 24/7/365 BACKUP
http://climatism....2/26/kee
Whydening Gyre
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 04, 2018
Argue all you want: Nukes are losing. We cannot afford their costs and their failures.

Meanwhile, our PV solar system has paid for itself, and now our power is free. That makes a big difference since we drive electrically.

you've had it for 20 years or more?
Did you pay for the system up front or enter one of those programs where they install it and give you a piece of the pie?
gkam
1 / 5 (2) Aug 05, 2018
"you've had it for 20 years or more?"

No, it paid off in 3-4 years, because of the savings in transportation with two electric vehicles.
WillieWard
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 05, 2018
No, it paid off in 3-4 years, because of the savings in transportation with two electric vehicles.
Most of electricity to recharge the electric vehicles come from the fossil-fueled grid. Solar panels are subsidized placebos.

"Poorer Californian families without solar panels must pay $65/year to subsidize wealthier families with solar, finds UC-Berkeley economist"
"It doesn't make sense... Rooftop solar isn't getting rid of the utility. It's just changing who pays for it."
https://energyath...-panels/
"California's Solar Roof Law Will Raise Housing And Energy Prices But Do Little To Reduce Emissions" -May 10, 2018
https://www.forbe...issions/
"California Prays to the Sun God" - May 11, 2018
https://www.wsj.c...26079559
Whydening Gyre
4 / 5 (4) Aug 06, 2018
"you've had it for 20 years or more?"

No, it paid off in 3-4 years, because of the savings in transportation with two electric vehicles.

That's not exactly making sense.

I've had companies come in and do estimates. Even with 3/4's (48k if I bought it outright) of my house covered they couldn't get that kind of payback, regardless of lease or own configuration.
gkam
1 / 5 (1) Aug 06, 2018
I told you it is because of gasoline replacement using electric vehicles.

Just replacing household power is not sufficient to get a short payback.
Captain Stumpy
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2018
@Whyde
That's not exactly making sense
true that
if you want to learn how to set up your house with solar and other green energy, check out this book as it's well worth the cost, IMHO
https://realgoods...-edition

the best options for you would be to start checking out marina's and see who is upgrading their systems (Solar, Wind, etc)
more often than not, you can get paid to take the stuff away - although some who have knowledge will charge you a minimal fee for the equipment (still cheaper than new)

also check out gov't auctions or clean-up, like DOT (batteries and solar panels used in road signs, etc)

local businesses sometimes also upgrade and scrap their equipment

most importantly, the book teaches you everything you need to know without the BS, including how to determine which is "greener" for your lifestyle *and location*: efficient gas vs electric

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