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Japan:Fukushima Reactor 1 capped + Relatd Articles

Friday, October 28, 2011

Laaska News Oct. 28,2011
Over 80% of Japan’s reactors offline
Japanese group develops handheld decontaminator
Fuel retrieval at Fukushima to start in 10 years

Photo: EPA

Fukushima Reactor 1 capped

The first reactor of Japan’s crippled Fukushima 1 nuclear power plant has been capped, the plant’s operating company reports.

Its roof had been damaged by the powerful March 11 quake which caused a radioactive leak. The new cap is 50m high and is equipped with filters which are capable of absorbing almost any chemicals. Its resin-made surface is quake-proof and wind-resistant.



Fuel retrieval at Fukushima to start in 10 years

Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission says it aims to start retrieving melted nuclear fuel rods from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant within 10 years.

The Commission’s expert panel on Friday presented a draft report on the timetable for scrapping the plant.

The report says decommissioning will start with repairing the containment vessels of the No.1 to No.3 reactors, where meltdowns occurred.

The vessels will then be filled with water to block radiation released from the melted fuel.

The commission also plans to start moving spent fuel rods from pools at the No.1 to No.4 reactors to another pool in the plant within 3 years. This will take place after the reactors achieve a state of cold shutdown.

The report projects that the decommissioning will take more than 30 years to complete.

The timetable is longer than that for the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in the United States, because the containment vessels were damaged at Fukushima along with the pressure vessels that house fuel rods.

In the 1979 Three Mile Island accident, about 70 percent of the reactor’s fuel rods melted. Fuel retrieval began 6 years after the accident and lasted for 5 years.

The work at Fukushima is expected to be longer and more difficult, because the extent of the damage is more severe and workers will have to repair 4 reactors simultaneously.


Over 80% of Japan’s reactors offline


Forty-four of Japan’s 55 nuclear reactors are currently idle, mainly for safety inspections.

Eighteen of them are undergoing stress tests mandated by the government. But none are expected to resume operations soon because the nuclear plant accident in Fukushima has raised safety concerns among local authorities hosting nuclear plants.

Of the 10 reactors still running, 4 will be shut down for routine inspections by year-end. The rest are scheduled to go offline by early next year.

If none of the reactors restart, Japan will have no active nuclear power plants within several months.

Japanese group develops handheld decontaminator


A group of Japanese researchers says it has developed a handheld device capable of removing radioactive substances using laser beams.

The machine was created by researchers from the Wakasa Wan Energy Research Center in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan.

The device uses laser beams moving at a high speed to scrape off radioactive substances attached to the surface of pipes and other objects at nuclear power plants. The dust is then collected inside the machine.

The researchers say that, since only the surface is scraped off, the machine generates one thousand times less radioactive waste than conventional methods.

The device is about 30 centimeters high and wide, and 40 centimeters long. The team says it is the world’s first portable radiation decontaminator.

When the researchers began developing the machine 7 years ago, they meant it to be used to reduce radioactive waste from nuclear plants, and also in the decommissioning of a prototype test reactor in Fukui Prefecture, known as Fugen.

The device is expected to be used in the operations to remove radioactive substances from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was badly damaged in the March 11th tsunami.
Laaska News.