Wednesday, March 6, 2013

March 11, 2011 - Two Years and Counting

It has been two years since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown. Two Years! Perhaps you thought the problems had all gone away? Not hardly, you see there is this major problem of doing something with the spent fuel that remains as well as tons of highly radioactive water.

The first three metallic casks have been delivered by AVCO to the Fukushima Daiichi facility, the order placed by TEPCO is for eleven casks which will store a total of 452 spent fuel rods currently in the common pool at the nuclear facility.

The New York Times ran an article today Japan Nuke Plant Progressing in Fuel Removal Plans. It is such a slow process it would be hard for me to use the term 'progressing' to describe it. But on the other hand the task is enormous. 

The plant's manager, Takeshi Takahashi, told journalists Wednesday during a tour of the plant that the removal of the fuel rods will begin in November and take a year to complete. It will be the first major step in a decades-long cleanup of the plant. 
"We are steadily making progress, one step at a time," Takahashi said.
In addition to having to find a permanent home for the spent fuel rods, there is the problem of the 260,000 tons of highly radioactive water that is stored in 900 gigantic tanks.
TEPCO expects the amount to double over three years and plans to build hundreds of more tanks by mid-2015 to meet the demand. The water keeps swelling and the land space is limited. 
So TEPCO is anxious to launch a new water treatment system that can purify the contaminated water and eventually release it into the ocean as a last-ditch measure in case of a lack of storage space.
In addition to storage problems there is the human element. Over 160,000 people were displaced from the area around the plant. The article ends by saying,  "They are uncertain when or if they will be able to return home."

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