JAPAN | Panel lists five key challenges at Fukushima

Posted on August 4, 2011


JAPAN | ASAHI SHIMBUN | 4 August 2011

Five key challenges stand in the way of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s efforts to stabilize the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and eventually remove damaged fuel from its reactors, according to a government panel.

An expert committee of the Atomic Energy Commission of Japan, which met for the first time on Aug. 3, said five major technical problems will have to be overcome before a decommissioning process that could take several decades can start.

TEPCO will have to remove about 3,100 fuel rods from fuel pools of the No. 1-No. 4 reactors and store them in a common pool for shared use.

It must stabilize the reactor cooling system and set up a sustainable system for treating radioactive water.

It will also have to prepare to remove damaged fuel that has been discharged into reactor containment vessels and treat radioactive waste discharged during the decommissioning process.

Finally, the committee said, TEPCO will have to clearly explain how the accident happened and use those findings to remove the fuel rods.

The whole process is likely to take many years. The government and TEPCO said in July that nuclear fuel would be removed from fuel pools at the plant within three years, but TEPCO said removing rods from the reactors might start 10 years from now.

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