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Wednesday, 14 December 2011

NYT on Recriticality: Japan nuclear prof. says chain reaction at Fukushima can’t be ruled out

Japan May Declare Control of Reactors, Over Serious Doubts


Tepco Via Jiji Press/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Workers sprayed water in March to cool the spent nuclear fuel in a reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.



TOKYO — Nine months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing a meltdown at three units, the Tokyo government is expected to declare soon that it has finally regained control of the plant’s overheating reactors.

 

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Reuters
Leakage from an evaporation condensation apparatus inside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
But even before it has been made, the announcement is facing serious doubts from experts.
On Friday, a disaster-response task force headed by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will vote on whether to announce that the plant’s three damaged reactors have been put into the equivalent of a “cold shutdown,” a technical term normally used to describe intact reactors with fuel cores that are in a safe and stable condition. Experts say that if it does announce a shutdown, as many expect, it will simply reflect the government’s effort to fulfill a pledge to restore the plant’s cooling system by year’s end and, according to some experts, not the true situation.
If the task force declares a cold shutdown, the next step will be moving the spent fuel rods in nearby cooling pools to more secure storage, and eventually opening the reactors themselves......

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