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Sunday, 11 December 2011

Long and tough road ahead for work to decommission Fukushima nuclear reactors

 

This Sept. 29, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the No. 2 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)
This Sept. 29, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the No. 2 reactor building of the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)
It is expected to take more than 30 years to decommission crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and workers tasked with the difficult mission would have to venture into "uncharted territory" filled with hundreds of metric tons of highly radioactive nuclear fuel, experts say.
After the expert committee of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) compiled a report on procedures to decommission the No. 1 to 4 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on Dec. 7, the actual work is expected to move into high gear after the turn of the year. As in the case of the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, the workers would try to remove melted nuclear fuel after shielding radiation with water, a technique called a "water tomb." But the work would have to be done in a "territory where humans have not stepped into before," said a senior official of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the troubled Fukushima nuclear power station. The work is so difficult that it is expected to take more than 30 years to finish decommissioning the reactors.

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