Fukushima clean-up chief still hunting for 600 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel
The operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant has revealed that 600 tonnes of reactor fuel melted during the disaster, and that the exact location of the highly radioactive blobs remains a mystery.
In an exclusive interview with Foreign Correspondent, the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s chief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, said the company hoped to pinpoint the position of the fuel and begin removing it from 2021.
But he admitted the technology needed to remove the fuel has to be invented.
“Once we can find out the condition of the melted fuel and identify its location, I believe we can develop the necessary tools to retrieve it,” Mr Masuda said.
“So it’s important to find it as soon as possible.”
Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant suffered catastrophic meltdowns in the hours and days after a giant tsunami swamped the facility on 11 March, 2011.
Thousands of workers are braving elevated radiation levels to stabilise and decommission the plant.
TEPCO says the process will take 30 to 40 years and tens of billions of dollars.
“In Reactor 1, all of the fuel has melted down from inside the pressure vessel,” Mr Masuda said.
“In reactors 2 and 3, about 30 per cent to 50 per cent remains in the pressure vessel and the rest has melted down. But unfortunately, we don’t know exactly where [the fuel] is.”
The head of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at the time of the meltdowns at Fukushima doubts the fuel can be retrieved, saying such an operation has never been done before.
“Nobody really knows where the fuel is at this point and this fuel is still very radioactive and will be for a long time,” said Gregory Jaczko in an interview with Foreign Correspondent in Washington.
“It may be possible that we’re never able to remove the fuel. You may just have to wind up leaving it there and somehow entomb it as it is.”
For the first time, TEPCO has revealed just how much of the mostly uranium fuel melted down after the tsunami swamped the plant.
“It’s estimated that approximately 200 tonnes of debris lies within each unit,” said TEPCO’s Naohiro Masuda.
“So in total, about 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be there.”
they dont even know where it is..just have a think about that for a while..then contemplate the admission it will take 30-40 years to clean up and thats a pie in the sky guess..enjoy the olympics in 2020..
“Nobody really knows where the fuel is at this point and this fuel is still very radioactive and will be for a long time,” said Gregory Jaczko in an interview with Foreign Correspondent in Washington.”
“long time” aka..millenia..
oh..and dont eat the fish..