Scrapping Fukushima

I do not see any other option forFukushimaexcept a complete decommissioning and dismantlement.  It may also not be possible.

That is the big question.  Cooling hardware is damaged and radiationlevels are high enough in places to prevent meaningful access.  Add the fact that three reactors haveexperienced partial melting and things really gets miserable.

Today, they are still fighting tocool the reactors down to a safe level. The mere fact that rods are not been extracted and removed from thefacility tells us that it is not easy. Rather obviously, that fuel could easily be stored at all the other reactorsaround the country.  It should have beena design objective as a worst case response.

Pumping sea water was an untestedlast resort solution that was in place. That we are using fire trucks to do just that is confirmation that eventhat was compromised and inadequate.

Possibly it will take months tocool the reactors sufficiently

I expect that only a portion ofthe plant can be properly powered up and made to work.  This means that at least one reactor willlikely remain critical for some time to come. This story is a long way from been over and will likely end up with acouple of encased reactors annoying us as we have elsewhere.  Hopefully the rest can be properly torn down.

Japan govt spokesman signals Fukushima plant to be scrapped

by Staff Writers

Osaka, Japan (AFP) March 20, 2011

Engineers checking Japan reactor systems: operator

Osaka (AFP) March 20, 2011 - Engineers at Japan's stricken nuclear plant werechecking the cooling and other systems at reactor No. 2 late Sunday, aiming torestore the power soon, operator TEPCO said. An external electricity supply hasbeen restored to the distributor but power at the reactor unit was not yetback, spokesman Naohiro Omura said. "It will take more time. It's notclear when we can try to restore the systems," he said. The coolingsystems -- designed to protect the Fukushimaplant's six reactors from a potentially disastrous meltdown -- were knocked outby the March 11 tsunami, and engineers have been battling risingtemperatures. 

The radiation-suitedcrews were striving to restore electricity to the ageing facility 250kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo,after extending a high-voltage cable into the site from the national grid. Theelectricity line into the No. 2 reactor usually also feeds power to the No. 1reactor. Fire engines have also been spraying seawater on the reactors and fuelrod pools, where overheating is a major concern. "Our desperate efforts toprevent the situation worsening are making certain progress," saidgovernment spokesman Yukio Edano. "But we must not underestimate thissituation, and we are not being optimistic that things will suddenlyimprove," he told a news conference.

Japan's top governmentspokesman on Sunday signalled that the quake-hit Fukushima nuclearpower plant atthe centre of an ongoing crisis following a series of explosions would bescrapped.

The reactor cooling systems at the FukushimaNo. 1 plant, located 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo,were crippled by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan'snortheast coast on March 11.

A series of explosions and fires followed. Crews and emergencypersonnel have since worked around the clock to try to bring the temperaturesdown to avert a potentially catastrophic meltdown.

"As the government has (nuclear energy)authorities, it's difficult for me to say anything definite before followingthe appropriate procedures," the spokesman, Yukio Edano, told reporters.

"Looking at the plant from an objective point of view, I thinkit's clear in a way if the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) plant is in a state ofbeing able to function or not," he said.

"I hope you can get it from the way I said it."

earlier related report

Days before quake, plant operator admitted oversight

Osaka (AFP) March 20, 2011 - Days before Japan plunged into an atomic crisisafter a giant earthquake and tsunami knocked out power at the ageing Fukushimanuclear plant, its operator had admitted faking repairrecords.

The revelation raises fresh questions about both Tokyo Electric PowerCo (TEPCO)'s scandal-tainted past and the government's perceived softregulation of a key industry.

The operator of the FukushimaNo. 1 plant submitted a report to the country's nuclear watchdog ten daysbefore the quake hit on March 11, admitting it had failed to inspect 33 piecesof equipment in its six reactors there.

A power board distributing electricity toa reactor's temperature control valves was not examined for 11 years, andinspectors faked records, pretending to make thorough inspections when in factthey were only cursory, TEPCO said.

It also said that inspections, which are voluntary, did not cover otherdevices related to cooling systems including water pump motors and dieselgenerators.

The report was submitted after the regulator ordered operators toexamine whether inspections were suitably thorough.

"Long-term inspection plans and maintenance management wereinadequate," the nuclear safety agency concluded in a follow-up report twodays after TEPCO's admission. "The quality of inspection wasinsufficient."

The safety agency ordered the operator to draw up a corrective plan byJune 2.

But on March 11 the 9.0-magnitude earthquake unleasheda ten-metre (33-feet) tsunami, knocking out back-up generators hooked to theplant's cooling system aimed at keeping fuel rods from overheating andreleasing dangerous radiation.

A nuclear safety agency official who declined to be named said:"We can't say that the lapses listed in the (February 28) report did nothave an influence on the chain of events leading to this crisis".

"We will conduct thorough research on TEPCO's activities up untilthis crisis but that will come afterwards. For now we are only working onsaving the plant," he added.

Firefighters, policemen and troops are currently hosing the damagedreactors in a desperate bid to stop them overheating, and trying to restoreelectricity that would kick-start cooling systems.

Images of the exploding plant triggered global alarm, but for many in Japan, TEPCO's track record of safety issues andattempts to cover them up add to suspicion over a flow of opaque, erraticinformation about Fukushima.

In 2002 TEPCO admitted to falsifying safety reports which led to all 17of its boiling-water reactors being shut down for inspection, including Fukushima. The revelationforced the then TEPCO chairman and president to resign.

And in an eerily familiar event, a 2007 earthquake paralysed itsKashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant -- the world's biggest -- and more radiationleaked than TEPCO initially acknowledged.

TEPCO later said it underestimated the potential impact of anearthquake on the facility.
"People don't trust TEPCO, they don't expect TEPCO to tell thetruth," said Philip White of Tokyo-based Citizens' Nuclear Information Center, a group ofscientists and activists against nuclear power.

"The problem is one of a culture of denial -- denial that thiscould occur, denial Japancould be subject to a big quake and the scale of the wave that couldcome."

Parallels with how TEPCO has handled Fukushimaand BP's dealing with the Gulf of Mexico oilspill disaster have been drawn. TEPCO has lost 1.93 trillion yen ($24 billion)in market value since the disaster.

Prime Minister Naoto Kanwas heard by a stray microphone furiously berating TEPCO officials after theytook an hour to notify the government of the first explosion to hit the plant."What the hell is going on?" Kanwas heard to say.

When the February report was released, the local Fukushima government also demanded redress,saying the "problem threatens the foundation of trust", mediareported at the time.

TEPCO had issued the report after a fresh inspection at its KashiwazakiKariwa plant also revealed oversight.

"They had submitted the report because they were afraid they wouldget in trouble if they didn't," another nuclear safety official said.

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