Scientists to create controlled nuclear meltdown in Ibaraki facility

Picture expired. In this file photo, nuclear fuel rods are seen in the spent fuel pool at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. AFP

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  • 11

    Michael Craig

    Are these people insane?

  • 15

    Farmboy

    I think a better plan is to have no "severe accidents in the future" because there are no nuke plants in the future.

  • 9

    John Becker

    Farmboy, I'm pretty sure they had that plan in place already, and it didn't work. It's never a bad idea to know more about what's really happening when things go wrong.

    And don't kid yourself - Japan will have nuclear power plants for the foreseeable future. Abe, the LDP and the economy will demand it.

  • 9

    mito

    Oh sh!t - that's a stone's throw from my back door.

  • 5

    Jeffrey Rolek

    Let's hope they don't make any mistakes like Chernobyl.

  • 3

    avigator

    There is a saying in Spanish, which literally translates to: "Is not the same to call the Devil, than to see him coming"

  • 5

    Open Minded

    I though we were told Fukushima's NPP were controlled?

  • 12

    Mirai Hayashi

    who else thinks this is a very bad idea?

  • 4

    warispeace

    How will this help with severe accidents in the future? If the meltdown "accident" is already "severe," then unless they are creating an evacuation, decommissioning and social and environmental recovery model for the region affected or the whole country, the exercise is pointless.

    Additionally, since TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi was a human made disaster, their exercise will need to take into consideration all possible errors from lax regulations, poor oversight and training, greed, internal politics, etc., that can lead to the disaster, if they really want to have a better idea of what may transpire.

    Finally, can we really expect the knowledge from any findings to actually lead to better safety measures? The authorities knew about the possibility of a huge tsunami and did nothing. There were systems in place, such a SPEEDY, and the whole evacuation process was botched. Scientists knew that trying to clean up radioactive particles and moving people back to heavily contaminated areas was fruitless, and yet the government went ahead anyway with pork barrel projects.

  • -3

    Aaron Loki Brummett

    In other words, then need a smaller meltdown now which would result in a much larger meltdown later. Everyone who reads Japantoday also has access to Russian media sources...

  • 3

    tmarie

    The last thing Japan needs to another accident with nuclear power. How many have their been and covered up? It is clear that Japan has no business playing with fire and yet... it continues to do so.

  • 0

    funny car

    There is a place already highly contaminated where they could their little experiment. And I am not talking about Tokaimura in Ibaraki where a meltdown was accidentally created in 1999. But that is probably where they will do this, as if the people of Ibaraki have not had enough.

    I do not expect Japan to get rid of NPPs. But I do expect them to be reduced to a sensible number and made safer, such as using thorium, which would mean no risk of a meltdown and no need for this experiment.

  • 2

    Nancy Foust

    It depends on how they do this. JAEA has done a bunch of destructive testing at their research reactor using a process similar to the one described in some of the news reports. If they are just doing a similar experiment using the equipment they have used in the past it is actually rather low risk. The ones they have done before takes a small 110mm model single fuel rod in a container and gives it a huge pulse of radiation that spikes the temperature. They have done this before. JAEA seems to have done a poor job explaining what they are doing to the press. If they actually have something totally different in mind they need to clearly describe what they are doing. The info given to the press sounds really disturbing the way it was worded.

  • -3

    Fox Cloud Lelean

    Put me down for £50 on all of Ibaraki becoming radioactive when this controlled meltdown gets out of control. I can see the logic of it in theory. You know what else was good in theory? Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. That didn't turn out so well either. Maybe they should conduct this "controlled" meltdown somewhere with less people, like a Space Station, or the Moon.

  • -2

    Bruce Miller

    Not feverishly seeking Thorium fission secrets for safer cheaper energy? Running hard backwards. and spending fortunes doing it? Will China be the first with this New Age Thorium miracle?

  • -2

    25psot

    Very dangerous research but if it will be successful it may lead to designing fuel rods capable of quick self digestion and prevention Fukushima type of accident .

  • -6

    Tamarama

    I think this is a good idea.

    Nuclear power isn't disappearing anytime soon, and it makes sense to know more about it, the way it works, it's behaviour etc.

    If the French and Americans have done it successfully previously, then the Japanese can too.

  • 2

    Gaijin Desi

    yaa but why in Ibaraki facility ? best place is Senkaku islands.......

  • -4

    tmarie

    Will plastic buckets be used??

    And there, not their. I'd kill for an edit button.

  • -10

    falseflagsteve

    These guys know what they are doing, stuff like this has been done in the past, no rpoblem here.

  • 5

    tmarie

    These guys know what they are doing...

    Yes clearly, they know exactly what they are doing. Cough, cough, Fukushima, cough...

  • 2

    Pandabelle

    Put me down for £50 on all of Ibaraki becoming radioactive

    The whole world's already radioactive.

  • -2

    hkitagawa

    That is great! I want to see the meltdown happening, but wait, is it really safe? I wonder if it will not explode like a nuclear bomb.

  • 5

    Disillusioned

    I would have thought the easiest way to avoid future nuclear disasters would be to give up on nuclear energy all together. This so-called 'controlled' experiment has been done before and the data is readily available to the Japanese nuclear agency. I see no reason for them to take such a risk and perform this experiment again.

  • 5

    hampton

    If it goes wrong, the new secrecy bill will mean we won't find out. Information about Fukushima has dried up since that bill was passed. No news is supposed to be good news, but not in Japan in the year 2014.

  • 7

    zichi

    These guys know what they are doing, stuff like this has been done in the past, no rpoblem here.

    Just like TEPCO, I suppose?

  • 4

    HollisBrown

    We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future

    40 plus years of nuclear power plants and they only want to study 'exactly how meltdowns happen' now?

    Has this research never been conducted before - anywhere in the world?

  • -7

    falseflagsteve

    @Zichi

    This is in a controlled environment so it is ok.. Japan needs and will have nuclear power for the foreseeable future. The aim is to keep the Yen weak and importing fuel will slow down the recovery due to the high costs,

  • 2

    Magnet

    They can't even control the one already in progress, so what makes them think they'll be able to control this one??? Lunatics! The least they could do is keep it within the restriction zone rather than contaminate even more of Japan.

  • 2

    MrBond

    No need to do that, just head over to Fukushima and start "dealing with it".

  • -3

    smithinjapan

    falseflagsteve: "This is in a controlled environment so it is ok.."

    Yeah, well, supposedly NPPs are controlled environments and looked what happened with Fukushima. This has serious accident potential, and if there is an accident you can yet again kiss a whole area goodbye.

    On an unrelated note, can I ask what's with all the double periods people are posting after their comments?.. Not just you, steve, but many others. I'm just wondering if it's part of a fad, like misspelling 'lose' by using 'loose'.

  • 0

    Tamarama

    Has this research never been conducted before - anywhere in the world?

    The article says that both the French and Americans have conducted similar tests, so yes.

    I think it's important to remember that this isn't TEPCO, it's the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Also, regardless of your personal feeling about Nuclear Power (and remember, a lot of Energy we have used in the past has been cheap and relatively clean because it was nuclear), doesn't it make sense to know it better?

    My feeling is it does.

  • 3

    tamedcat

    This experiment may be necessary, but I don't think they should do this now.

  • 0

    HollisBrown

    Tamarama - The point I was trying to get at was after having nuclear power in Japan for more than 40 years, only now the Japan AEA wants to understand for themselves how meltdowns happen. I could've phrased myself a bit better in the question you quoted - it was supposed to be rhetorical!

    Where are the Japan AEA led/backed studies into how to better protect the energy generating processes within the power stations from earthquakes, tsunami etc.? Surely this sort of research is equally, if not more, important?

    I know that you'd expect the power plant operators to deal with this - and to an extent I agree- but the Japan AEA (and the IAEA) have a part to play as the recent disaster was directly caused by an earthquake and tsunami.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    HollisBrown: "Where are the Japan AEA led/backed studies into how to better protect the energy generating processes within the power stations from earthquakes, tsunami etc.? Surely this sort of research is equally, if not more, important?"

    They exist -- the problem is that they are buried by the power companies when they see the projected costs, as has been seen with TEPCO.

  • -1

    JaneM

    Tamarama,

    Yes, the economy needs energy as without energy (and a lot of it) there will not be manufacture, entertainment, house heating in winter and air-conditioning in summer, etc. The reality is different from what most people feel is the best way to produce energy so Japan is bound to have nuclear plants for the foreseeable future. Knowing as much as possible is a good way to get prepared for accidents.

    Nancy Foust,

    From my (admittedly limited) experience so far, it seems that a lot of information is usually given to the media but more often then not the media choose only stuff which has the potential to make the headlines. Lengthy explanations regarding ongoing scientific research or even small but nonetheless important achievements in dealing with ongoing problems are seldom part of the information shower we enjoy every day.

  • 4

    zichi

    @falseflagsteve

    Zichi this is in a controlled environment so it is ok..

    Well I get ya drift, but from my personal experience even lab experiments can go terribly wrong, and you could even say, a nuclear power plant is in a very controlled environment and several have ended with very tragic results.

    But I won't be losing any sleep over this one.

    Japan needs and will have nuclear power for the foreseeable future.

    The jury is still out on that one and there seems to be no consensus, even among the country's top political leaders and experts, several ex PM's are now opposed to even restarting a single reactor.

    Its unlikely that any reactors will restart at least until late next year, and its looking more and more likely not before the next general election in 2016. The NRA inspections are going slower than an overnight cattle train. Many politicians even in the ruling LDP are worried about losing their seats over this one?

    But even if and when there are reactor starts, the NRA has been hinting for several months now, that in future there won't be more than about 15 reactors allowed to operate which is less than half of the 38 operating on that terrible day back in Mar, 2011. So nuclear energy won't be able to generate the 30% of total power which it did previously.

    This all adds up to more imports of the fossil fuels, to make up for the short fall.

    Besides the 100 year, ¥50 trillion clean up of the world's worse nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, there are still many very serious problems that are not being answered, like how to store for the next ten thousand years, the 15,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel at various places around the country, and the even longer safe storage of more than 45 tons of plutonium, enough to make more than 5,000 atomic war heads each more than 100 times stronger than those dropped on the country.

    At the moment its not looking good for nuclear and the country should at least aim to end its use by 2030.

    The aim is to keep the Yen weak and importing fuel will slow down the recovery due to the high costs,

    Well ya right about that, at least, and PM Abe should have left the value of the yen alone instead of trying to fiddle with his poker game?

  • 2

    stuarto

    You've already had at least ONE that would've given you something to learn from. And you want to create a controlled one? I might just do a controlled cutting off of my left leg, just to see what happens...

  • 2

    gaijinfo

    Are they going to build it on top of a miniature earthquake fault, next to a miniature tsunami zone, and have it built by a miniature corrupt electronic company?

  • 7

    Jeremy Rigby

    Here's an idea....don't do the test and simply ask America or France for the results...or even track down the journal where they were probably printed.

  • 1

    FightingViking

    SCARY...

  • -4

    Mike O'Brien

    You've already had at least ONE that would've given you something to learn from.

    Except they didn't know that ONE was going to happen and so they didn't have huge amounts of monitoring equipment set up to determine exactly what happened second by second.

    don't do the test and simply ask America or France for the results

    Except the USA and French tests were with different type assemblies under different conditions.

    Why do you think every model of car is crash tested? Why not just test one and use that for all the others?

  • 0

    JoeBigs

    Michael CraigJan. 12, 2014 - 06:41AM JST Are these people insane?

    Nothing scary about it as long as you are in full control of it. A reactor is only as dangerous as the people who run it. I served on nuke subs for a nice long while and had zero problems other than the hair standing on the back of my neck no probs.

    I would be scared if you had a bunch of no nothings trying it. But, there are some smart folks doing what they need to do to fix another problem.

  • 1

    kcjapan

    "We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen"

    Start with a big wave, add a failed cooling design and release uncontrolled radioactivity. You can't hug your children with nuclear arms.

  • 0

    inakaRob

    "Are these people insane?" ROLF said the first person watching a the first wheel. said the first person wathcing a light bulb. said the first person riding a horseless carage. etc. etc. good god man! CONTROLED is the key word here. with one TINY fuel rod. How do you think science works. Magic?

  • 0

    Andrzej Feliks

    "Are these people insane?" ROLF said the first person watching a the first wheel. said the first person wathcing a light bulb. said the first person riding a horseless carage. etc. etc. good god man! CONTROLED is the key word here. with one TINY fuel rod. How do you think science works. Magic?

    Yes, but science is not only the atom and the fuel rods .. And you do not have Atomists further certain whether the Higgs is, if it is not .. They have no idea of what the atom built, but its break up are the first ... Even the first atomic explosion was much stronger than anticipated .. A and the fact that it invented the atomic bomb can achieve by, was a Pole, Joseph Rotblat .. Czekawe that this "science" somehow did not remember it ... And not to mention that such Inventions Physical Science, in the form of a Windmill Red Baron, and the extraction of salt water for the help of the waves on the high coast hides ... Probably also in the name of Science, that people have nothing but the atom does not invent .. That's the "science", but unless concealment, dumb slog, that atom will always be needed .. This is just Magic..

    http://www.nfb.ca/film/strangest_dream

    Regards Andrew

  • 1

    Open Minded

    Why trying to understand how a meltdown works? According to the nuke village - and repeated thousand times - the nuclear energy is already 100% safe!

    Wasting money to understand an impossible scenario!?

    I must have missed something!

  • 1

    David Foley

    Why don't they study the one they already got instead of making a new one? Makes sense to me.

  • 0

    strom

    I agree with farmboy, no nuke plants, no nuke accidents -<

  • 1

    sf2k

    what information are they going to gain differently than the Americans and French? That nuclear power is stupid? When will they reach that conclusion do you think...

  • -2

    Mike O'Brien

    Why don't they study the one they already got instead of making a new one? Makes sense to me.

    Because the one that already happened didn't have a whole bunch of instruments to monitor it and record everything as it happened.

    Which is easier, solving a murder when no one witnessed the murder and you don't find the body for a week or when you have the body immediately after the murder and it happened in front of many witnesses and cameras?

  • 0

    gelendestrasse

    This just sounds like a really bad experiment....There have been several meltdowns. I don't really care how many instruments they have, is it really necessary? Will it scale to full size? What are they going to learn that they don't already know?

  • 0

    William Leslie Hancock Shepherd

    ****I Gather there will be the same number of controlled explosions as rods recovered from the storage tanks !!!

  • 0

    Ed O Jidai

    I am with funny car and Bruce Miller. Wouldn't the money and time be better spent shifting to thorium reactors? Or at least researching them? Why continue on a road that has proven to be leading over a lethal dead-end cliff? The only way to make the existing road safe is to put barriers on it, stopping it before it leads over that cliff. But doing so still makes the present road a dead end. A change in direction, a different road entirely is what is of urgent necessity.

    What they are doing in Ibaraki is like scientific research on why someone died eating certain poisonous mushrooms. Scientists, with research, can learn what are the physiological mechanisms caused by that variety of mushroom that cause death in people. But it doesn't take a scientist to say, "Stop eating those mushrooms!" Nor does it take any one with more than average intelligence to say, "Stop using nuclear power in its present form!" If at all. It could be worthwhile to look into thorium. It would be better to decommission all nuclear power plants in the world than to continue with the status quo. If thorium proves to be a pipe dream then that is it. NO MORE NUKES!

  • -1

    mitoguitarman

    Typical J-research- - instead of asking others for their data, "we gotta do it ourselves." Waste of dangerous time.

  • -4

    Mike O'Brien

    ****I Gather there will be the same number of controlled explosions as rods recovered from the storage tanks !!!

    So that would be zero explosions, right? I mean that is the same number from the rods in the storage tanks.

    instead of asking others for their data, "we gotta do it ourselves." Waste of dangerous time.

    Where does it say they are asking for (or don't already have) the data from others? But unless those tests where done with the same type fuel rod under the same conditions, their results won't be directly applicable.

  • 0

    Christine Dillon Strickland

    Most ridiculous idea Curly, Larry and Moe have had to date. These idiots have zero idea what the hell they are doing. Protect your own selves, take great care what you eat. The nuclear industry considers us all expendable...billions of us are expendable to these clowns. Stand up japan before you become unable to do so. Stand!!! Resist!!! Saikado hantai!!!!!!!! No more melted nuclear death please!

  • -1

    Aaron Loki Brummett

    A few of my words were omitted from my initial port on this article. " would result in a much larger meltdown later. ". Should be "prevent". Perhaps I typed it wrong. What I meant to imply is that a smaller meltdown will 'prevent' a larger meltdown later.

  • -1

    JoeBigs

    "The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said it was working on a project using a scaled-down version of a reactor which they would deliberately cause to malfunction at a research facility in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo."

    Okay folks, let's try and read before we go running about like chickens that have just lost their heads.

    Okay, let me rephrase that, will the folks who have just read this stop running around like chickens without heads!!

    The only way that this test reactor would ever compare to Chernobyl or even it's baby cousin known as Fukushima would be if the world was the size of a pea......

    So, please calm down and take a deep breath before you all start spending all your cash on a bomb shelter.

    Hm, great business to get into these day though.....

    Okay raise your hands if you have ever been around a live reactor or ever have a clue how they work?

    Okay now, take a real deep breath, now don't you feel much better now?

    Hysteria is the effect that comes from not knowing.

    Fukushima happened because no one was talking, everyone expected the other guy to do his job. If folks would have been proactive rather than reactive Fukushima's reactors would have been much safer and better handled.

  • 0

    TedJohnson

    Honestly I'm surprised nobody has done this till now. Seeing as how Nuclear power is everywhere.

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