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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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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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