The chief of the Fukushima nuclear power station has admitted that the technology needed to decommission three melted-down reactors does not exist, and he has no idea how it will be developed.In a stark reminder of the challenge facing the Japanese authorities, Akira Ono conceded that the stated goal of decommissioning the plant by 2051 may be impossible without a giant technological leap. “There are so many uncertainties involved. We need to develop many, many technologies,” Mr. Ono said.
NHK ‘Nuclear Watch’ transcript, Mar 31, 2015 (emphasis added):
- NHK: The people trying to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been hit by setback after setback… and faced accusations of misconduct. It’s lost them a lot of public trust… [Naohiro Masuda, president of Tepco’s decommissioning company] revealed he’s not sure if he can comply with the government set plan [for] removing the fuel…
- Naohiro Masuda, president of Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning Company: We have no idea about the debris. We don’t know its shape or strength. We have to remove it remotely from 30 meters above, but we don’t have that kind of technology, it simply doesn’t exist… We still don’t know whether it’s possible to fill the reactor containers with water.We’ve found some cracks and holesin the three damaged container vessels, but we don’t know if we found them all. If it turns out there are other holes, we might have to look for some other way to remove the debris.
- NHK: Asked [about the gov’t target to begin by 2020], his answer was surprisingly candid.
- Masuda: It’s a very big challenge. Honestly speaking, I cannot say it’s possible.Dale Klein, Tepco Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee chair, Mar 31, 2015 (at 24:00 in):
- Richard Lloyd Parry, The Times: I was at the plant last week on the tour and we talked Mr. Ono, the boss. He made no bones about the fact that the technology… to remove the molten or semi-molten fuel doesn’t exist yet… I asked him how can you be sure that it will be, and he said, “Well, 200 years ago people would never have dreamed of bullet trains or mobile phones, but they exist.” That seems to be the scale of the leap… that’s going to be required. So there must be immense uncertainties around that… There must surely be a chance that it won’t work out, and that the eventual solution will be something like the Chernobyl solution… a sarcophagus of some kind sealing in the 3 plants…
- Klein: This is something that has never been done… Units 1, 2, and 3… molten fuel penetrated the bottom of the vessel… We don’t know… how much and where it moved. ***Akira Ono, chief of Fukushima Daiichi, Mar 28, 2015: “There are so many uncertainties… For removal of the debris, we don’t have accurate information… or any viable methodology… I believe human beings have the capability to develop technologies… It may take 200 years.”
[Airborne] radiation from Japan’s nuclear accident has turned up in seaweed on the coasts of California, Washington and other parts of the West Coast of North America.***A 1955 U.S. government report concluded that the ocean may not adequately dilute radiation from nuclear accidents.MIT says that seawater which is itself radioactive may begin hitting the West Coast within 5 years.