Nuclear experts from France, U.S. to help with Fukushima clean-up

Picture expired. Japan estimates it will take 40 years to collect the melted fuel rods from the Fukushima nuclear reactors, which were devastated after the 2011 disaster AFP

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  • 9

    BertieWooster

    And Abe wants to start MORE nuclear reactors?

    Sitting on fault lines as Japan does?

  • 12

    Aly Rustom

    Nuclear experts from France, U.S. to help with Fukushima clean-up

    Great! only took them 5 years!

    Bertie, NOTHING Abe has done has been positive for Japan. Nothing. So why start now?

  • 12

    klausdorth

    Yeah, it definitely took quite some time!

    Help was offered before, but if I remember correctly it wasn't needed then.

    Guess TEPCO and the government are out of options? At least they can blame it on someone else if anything should go wrong.

  • 13

    Disillusioned

    So, after Japan has stuffed around for five years and wasted millions, if not billions of dollars on pipe dream ideas they are finally admitting they are licked and need international help. The French and US have regularly offered help since day one of the clean up, but Japan has always refused their help because it was seen as international intervention. Now, after five years, the realise they haven't got a clue how to fix it they are asking for help? This is great news, but I have no doubt the foreign experts are still going to face the Japanese ice-wall of foreign intervention. I also have no doubt they will be bound by the Japanese secrecy act and not permitted to speak freely to the press about the severity of the fallout from this man-made disaster.

  • 8

    Aly Rustom

    Help was offered before, but if I remember correctly it wasn't needed then

    No. It was needed then. It just wasn't wanted. But now they've had a change of heart after Japan in general and TEPCO in particular were made to look like a horse's butt in the eyes of the world for not accepting the help offered immediately afterward.

  • 7

    klausdorth

    Aly Rustom

    I should have put the [it wasn't needed] in "......", sorry!

    Of course you are right, they didn't want it, because "everything was under control".

  • 4

    Laguna

    Japan estimates it will take 40 years to collect the melted fuel rods from the Fukushima nuclear reactors, which were devastated after the 2011 disaster

    At least the promise of providing jobs for generations to the region did not turn out false.

  • 10

    edojin

    NHK featured an excellent show on the 88 hours covering the initial explosions at the Fukushima plant. It showed what happened among the personnel who were at the plant when everything unraveled. One by one they took we viewers through the events that led up to each explosion in the reactor buildings. Buildings One, Three and Four blew sky high. I didn't know this originally, but hydrogen from the explosion in Building Three went into Building Four and caused the explosion there.

    And ... another thing I didn't know. I always see Building Two sitting there intact, thinking that it was an okay place. However, it was explained and shown in detail that Building Two is hotter than hot radioactive-wise. Nobody can get near the reactor in there and, of course, nobody knows what is happening to the fuel rods, which, of course, are probably melting down.

    So ... five years after the big explosions ... and the place is still there melting down deep into where nobody knows. I only hope the nuclear experts from the U.S. and France can get the Fukushima site under control. Oh, yes, wasn't it Abe-san who said "everything's under control" when Japan won the 2020 Olympic bid? Under control. What does that mean anymore?

  • 5

    marcelito

    Well the Olympics will be here in 4 years so the govt. wants to have something tangible to present to the world and not loose face since the trumpeted " it's under control" sound bite is sounding a bit hollow due to Tepco not having a clue. Best case scenario - some progress will be made and can be trumpeted to the world during the Olympics . Worse case scenario - they can spread part of the blame for slow progress / mishaps onto their foreign partners.

  • -8

    nakanoguy01

    and i'm glad the gov't has sought international help. in this case, more chefs won't spoil the broth.

    nuclear energy is definitely needed in japan. you're kidding yourself that it's not. so you are satisfied with using fossil fuels and creating more pollution as a result? that will kill more people around the world than all the nuclear accidents combined.

  • 0

    smithinjapan

    Are they going to let them in this time? I'm guessing a LOT is going to be hidden and there will be a WHOLE lot of "prohibited" areas to keep them from seeing the ineptitude and criminal actions that have plagued the clean-up thus far.

  • -1

    albaleo

    to keep them from seeing the ineptitude and criminal actions that have plagued the clean-up thus far.

    Could you give some examples of the ineptitude and criminal actions? And from reality please, and not from some dogmatic fantasy where Japanese nuclear engineers can only do wrong.

  • 3

    harvey pekar

    Ha! Japan didn't ask for help cause they're out of ideas or money.

    With more aging reactors going online, the J-Nuke Crew doesn't have time to mess around with Fukushima anymore.

    They'll be busy putting duct tape and bubble gum on the cracks of them other 40 year old ticking time bombs.

  • -2

    Jandworld

    You cannot walk it alone. And time considered why not look for something else to "power your grow"

  • 1

    Utrack

    I can not believe my eyes. I just read Entombing the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was Politically unacceptable. Like the Contamination of All of Japan is Politically correct. Endangering the Citizenry of Japan is a Criminal Act that should be punishable with jail time.

  • 3

    Stuart hayward

    albaleo: I'll give you a few examples, if you would like more it's no problem.

    1) TEPCO was caught falsifying and withholding data which they were forced to admit.

    2) They made early clean up workers wear Geiger counters shielded with lead housings, so the subcontracters could work past legal exposure of radiation.

    3) They built sub par contaminated water storage units, held together with plastic gaskets rather than welded.

    4) They stored contaminated soil and debris below the high tide lines at the beach, also stored it on the edge of river banks that flooded. Twice, the beach storage of this material ended up in the ocean, while the stuff stored by the river, washed into it, then out to sea.

  • 1

    Bobby Boogie

    I've been saying this since the Fukushima Melt Down, this is a WORLD PROBLEM not only a Japanese problem we all eat from the ocean this is dangerious to the human race.

  • 2

    Disillusioned

    another thing I didn't know. I always see Building Two sitting there intact, thinking that it was an okay place. However, it was explained and shown in detail that Building Two is hotter than hot radioactive-wise. Nobody can get near the reactor in there and, of course, nobody knows what is happening to the fuel rods, which, of course, are probably melting down.

    Have you seen the science fiction movie, the China Syndrome? There is still a chance that, reactor housing number two could still go into s critical meltdown if the cooling fails and the China Syndrome could become science fact, the Fukushima Syndrome! Admittedly, the chances are small, at this stage, but unless something is done to control the fusion it is still quite possible. In the movie, the fuel rods went critical and burned through the earth's crust and into the mantle creating huge volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Hmm, food for thought? The mantle is not very far under Japan.

  • 4

    md2009

    This is just spin by all concerned. Isn't it obvious that the US and presumably France know just how critical the situation is and demanded to be involved. The spin that the Japanese Governemt asked for help is just that. This is a crisis and I suspect the Americans said to Abe that unless we come in and fix this, we will be forced to raise questions about the viability and safety of the Olympics and maybe even have to start to think about removing military and other personnel from Japan in case Kin Jong Nutcase decides to fire a missile at the reactor or some other man made or natural catastrophe occurs there. There is a lot not being said here. IMHO. All just guesswork, but makes sense to me. And yes, TEPCO is going to make life difficult for them, and cover their well worn tracks so they can later blame the gaijin. It is a disgrace that it has taken this long. Oh, and don't ask about the hot particles.

  • 3

    nandakandamanda

    The other day on J TV a scientist was showing just how hard corium (a blob of melted fuel and rods) is. He created some artificial corium in the lab, cooled it, and then used a diamond rotary cutter on it. It made very little progress, taking more than an hour to cut through an inch or so, as I remember.

    This news above will be an attempt to create some totally new technology, now that they have managed to clean up enough to be able to approach the reactor buildings. On the face of it, for a number of reasons, disposal of the corium will be an impossible task, for anyone.

    In the meantime, any little gadget invented from now on can be patented and used for future nuclear disasters around the world, as the number of NPPs grows.

  • 4

    Utrack

    J Govt, TEPCO JAEA and the IAEA are not thinking of the children in Fukushima. Nor ar they thinking of the children in Tohoku nor in all of Japan. J Govt, TEPCO JAEA and the IAEA need to think of what this nuclear meltdown clean up and corium retrieval schemes of theirs is doing to the kids. Children are the ones who are developing with this radioactive contamination in the air, food and water. Thyroid cancer in children is on the rise and untold health problems will affect them their whole life. The land, sea and the very air they breathe is a bio-hazard.

  • -5

    25psot

    From Hiroshima to Fukushima nuclear events Japan become superstitious to nuclear energy in times when nuclear energy is needed to run Japan's mammoth economy. Restarting 50 reactors and running them without trouble for 5 years could help overcome the fear.

  • 1

    gogogo

    has been ruled out by the Japanese government as politically unacceptable

    i think you mean they can make more money by not doing it this way

  • 3

    Anders Blenstrup-Pedersen

    Of course they want France and U.S. to help, they have probably been digging in their history, and found they are way better at covering up. Like the U.S. who has 4 crippling reactors, with cracks and leakages. But the government in Japan should push harder on the cleanup, and for alternative energy, instead of letting TEPCO do what they want. FYI - TEPCO did get help from the U.S. government to push trough the construction, and even allowed to use the same flawed build as 3 mile island.

  • 0

    Hiro S Nobumasa

    So after Abe told the IOC that everything is under control in Fukushima it seems the Tokyo Olympics will be handing out radioactive cesium and cobalt medals after all.

  • -1

    Farmboy

    It's good they're getting help. The world should work on this, as a successful cleanup benefits everybody. An unsuccessful cleanup could be a disaster.

  • -3

    B.l. Sharma

    All cleaning up exercise , removal of melted fuel from the crippled reactors at Fukushima and development of new technology to deal with this project should be carried under the supervision of I A E A so that it could develop new norms to effectively deal with such disasters in future which could happen any time any where in various countries which are relying on generation of power from nuclear reactors.

  • 1

    badsey3

    **Entombing the uranium rods in concrete **and effectively abandoning the site—as was done after the meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986—has been ruled out by the Japanese government as politically unacceptable, leaving innovation as the only possible solution.

    Japan is the master of "entombing" things in concrete. Logically that should be the first choice.

  • -2

    albaleo

    @Stuart hayword

    Thanks for the examples.

    About the lead housings, do you have evidence that this was to deliberately lower the reading levels? The only info I can find is on less than objective sites. But I can find lots of references to lead shielding being used in the normal operation of radiation detectors to increase their accuracy.

    I'm no plumbing expert, but are welded gaskets always preferable to plastic. (I'm thinking of corrosion, and also ease of repair should they break.)

    I am puzzled by the handling of the contaminated soil. Less by the storage on the beach than the huge amounts that are stacked further inland. If I was living nearby, I think I'd prefer them on the beach, or better still dumped far away at sea. There was an article recently suggesting that the widespread removal of topsoil was a knee-jerk reaction. If there was no plan to actually remove the soil from the area, I have to wonder why they did it.

  • 0

    sighclops

    2016 and we get headlines like this. Can't quite get my head around it. Oh, that's right. the cleanup budget was 1/10th that of the initial Olympic budget, which has now increased two-fold.

  • 1

    Mike O'Brien

    There is still a chance that, reactor housing number two could still go into s critical meltdown

    No there isn't. When the fuel melted the geometry needed for a criticality was destroyed. And with the fuel having been subcritical for 5 years it probably doesn't even need much cooling any more. An old fuel rod, still in the correct geometry, won't overheat even with just passive air cooling.

    but unless something is done to control the fusion it is still quite possible

    There is ZERO fusion going on and there never was ANY fusion going on. The plants are FISSION reactors and uranium won't undergo fusion.

    In the movie, the fuel rods went critical and burned through the earth's crust and into the mantle creating huge volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. Hmm, food for thought? The mantle is not very far under Japan.

    The movie is science FICTION. It was a nice scary story that can't happen.

  • -1

    badsey3

    An old fuel rod, still in the correct geometry, won't overheat even with just passive air cooling.

    6-7 years of active water cooling for spent fuel rods. They do get hot, by "overheating" if you mean critical you are most likely true. These old rods give off gases etc -air cooling is not the best idea.

  • 2

    sf2k

    As I recall it was called in Chernobyl a sarcophagus. That would have worked. Why not do things that work instead of pretending? That way you can keep pretending to do something AND actually do something.

  • 0

    Farmboy

    Why not do things that work instead of pretending?

    They have done some things, like removing the fuel rods from the reactor building and from one of the reactors. Also, some debris has been removed, and some supports have been put into place. Some protective walls have been built. There is a place to store the water for now, and a treatment system that removes some of the radioactive substances, when it works.

    However, you can't entomb the leaks, because you can't get under the problem area. In one section, the radiation is too high even for most robots. Just recently, they were able to determine where the melted material isn't. It isn't in the containment vessel, but they are not sure exactly how deep it actually is. There is no technology currently available to fix this problem completely. It will be an ongoing problem, probably continuing after all of us have gone to the Great Beyond.

  • 2

    Citizen2012

    Japan estimates it will take 40 years to collect the melted fuel rods from the Fukushima nuclear reactors, which were devastated after the 2011 disaster

    Only the nuclear industry has man made disasters that require decades (generation) to be fixed, and those 40 years are just an estimation made by the same people who claimed it is already "over" and "under control" so you can imagine it is going to be more than that and it will cost billions and billions, Nuclear energy is not cheap, it does cost billions to tax payers.

  • 0

    Stuart hayward

    albaleo:

    It was widely reported, even on Japan Today that the clean up workers were instructed to wear these lead lined Geiger counters if they wanted to be able to work more than just a few weeks.

    The Geiger counters housings surrounded everything except the display and audio parts of the device. This does NOT help with there accuracy! If fact, covering the Geiger Mueller Tube drastically reduces the accuracy, since it is the heart of the unit and is the key component for sensing radiation. It's not a great comparison but it would be similar to putting a lead strip in front of an X Ray lense, than try taking an X Ray.

    As for the poorly constructed water containers, it's well know around the globe that welded joints are the MOST effective means of securing steel or metals to themselves, without leaking their contents. All plastic or rubber gaskets wear out much quicker.

  • 2

    Mike O'Brien

    6-7 years of active water cooling for spent fuel rods.

    No 3-5 years.

    These old rods give off gases etc -air cooling is not the best idea.

    Not unless they have been damaged. And thousands of old rods all over the world are currently being safely air cooled.

    That would have worked. Why not do things that work instead of pretending?

    Because Chernobyl doesn't have thousands of gallons of groundwater flowing through the lowr levels of the damaged plant.

  • 0

    CH3CHO

    Aly RustomMAR. 15, 2016 - 04:05PM JST

    Nuclear experts from France, U.S. to help with Fukushima clean-up

    Great! only took them 5 years!

    It only took less than a month. Press Conference by PM Kan on April 2011. http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/kan/statement/201104/01kaiken.html

    もう一つは国際的な協力であります。特にアメリカの関係者は既に事故対策に本格的に加わっていただき、共同作業に入っていただいております。また、オバマ大統領も先日の電話対談で、改めて全面的な協力を約束いただきました。昨日来日されたサルコジ大統領は、原発先進国としてフランスの関係者による協力に加えて、G8、G20の議長として、そうした立場での協力を申し出ていただきました。

    更にIAEAも既に専門家を派遣いただいて、いろいろと対応をいただいております。

    (On Fukushima NPP accident) The other issue is international cooperation. Especially, the officials from the US are already fully involved in the counter measures against the accident and are in joint operation. I accepted the promise of encompassing co-operation from US President Obama over the phone. French President Sarkozy visited Japan yesterday. I accepted his offer of co-operation by the French officials as well as his offer of co-operation in his capacity as the chair of G8 and G20 countries.

    In addition, IAEA has sent us experts who have been helping us in many ways.

    Untruths can have their own lives and keep spreading in spite of truth.

  • -1

    Anders Blenstrup-Pedersen

    @Mike O'Brien

    No 3-5 years. Ain't that for uranium, if I remember correctly they started using plutonium-241, which is about half the time. This was the reason they wanted to switch in the first place.

    @sf2k

    That would have worked. Why not do things that work instead of pretending? Have you ever seen Chernobyl? did you know the reactor is still leaking? which is why they started working on the reactor a few years back to cover it even better. So if possible cleaning up the area is much better.

  • 2

    Mike O'Brien

    @Anders Blenstrup-Pedersen

    To the best of my knowledge it is for any commercial fission reactor fuel. MOX fuel has only a small percentage of plutonium when manufactured. And all current commercial fission reactors create plutonium as they operate, that is where the plutonium for MOX fuel comes from.

    The active cooling time is based on the half-lives of the fission products and plutonium fission does have a different mix of fission products than uranium fission. But I haven't seen anywhere that says the cooling requirements for spent MOX vs Uranium fuels are significantly different.

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