Fukushima plant building exposed as TEPCO opens old wounds

The cover on reactor 1 was installed around the building of the devastated the reactor 1 in October 2011 and Tepco plans to dismantle it by December. It remains 17 panels of 20 tonnes to move. Inside, the spent fuel pool with 392 fuel assemblies in it, which Tepco intends to empty starting 2020 …

Now this uncovered “reactor” freely spits its radioactive lungs again in the open air. Yes that’s right. Tepco had mounted this cover to avoid polluting the air. Today we go back to square one.

The three reactors 1, 2 and 3 have lost their seal and radionuclides roam freely. There is simply no way to seal leaks. Even when the pool will be emptied, the problem will still be the same.

The levels of radioactivity escaping from the three reactors are unknown until Tepco wants to give us some figures, still without any true independent body to verify.

13 sept 2016 removal cover reactor 1.jpg


The devastated outer layer of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 1 reactor building has been exposed for the first time in almost five years in the painstaking reactor decommissioning process.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. began removing on Sept. 13 the exterior walls of the cover installed around the structure to prevent the dispersal of radioactive materials on Sept. 13.

Shortly past 6 a.m., a large crane began removing a massive piece of the cover installed around the reactor building. The panel dismantled that day measured 23 by 17 meters and weighed 20 tons.

The cover was installed in October 2011 as a temporary measure after a nuclear meltdown occurred following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March that year. The meltdown caused a hydrogen explosion, blowing the walls off the building.

Once the cover is dismantled, the operator can assess the state of the building’s interiors and remove the debris fallen onto the spent fuel pool inside.

Steady progress is necessary in reconstruction, but we hope they will carry on the procedure with safety as the No. 1 priority,” said a Fukushima prefectural government official.

TEPCO said that it plans to remove the remaining 17 panels of the covering by the end of the year. The portion covering the roof has already been removed.

Once the cover is removed, the utility will begin drawing up plans to remove the 392 fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool and melted nuclear fuel from inside the building.

The plant operator said that it plans to be extra careful during the procedure. It will shroud the building in tarpaulins once the cover is removed as a precautionary measure against dust and other materials containing radioactive materials from being carried aloft by the wind.

The utility and central government’s joint schedule for the decommissioning process of the reactor states that the removal of the fuel rods from the pool will start in fiscal 2020.


Japan reactor makers consider merging fuel units to counter rivals

As Mr. Ikuo Hatsukade says : « I wish that these three companies could cooperate to produce renewable energies without nuclear energy. »


A nuclear fuel assembly, center, sits in a spent fuel pool.

TOKYO — Japan’s Hitachi, Toshiba and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries aim to merge their nuclear fuel units to gain an edge on cost in an effort to better compete with Chinese and South Korean rivals. 

Amid bleak prospects for getting current domestic reactors up and running, let alone building new ones, the next challenge will be to consolidate their nuclear reactor businesses. 

Of the more than 40 reactors in Japan, Kyushu Electric Power‘s Sendai Nuclear Power unit Nos. 1 and 2 in Kagoshima Prefecture and Shikoku Electric Power‘s Ikata Nuclear Power Station unit No. 3 in Ehime Prefecture are the only reactors in operation. Bringing the country’s reactors back online is proceeding very slowly due to strict safety standards set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

With the liberalization of Japan’s retail energy market in April, electric power companies are finding it difficult to invest in nuclear power plants, as it is difficult to make forecasts for power generation costs including future decommissioning. The government plans to generate 20-22% of the county’s overall power mix from nuclear power plants by 2030, but many market watchers remain skeptical.

To improve competitiveness, major reactor makers appear to have begun discussing the possibility of integrating their nuclear fuel businesses. One executive of a reactor maker said they cannot hire new nuclear engineers and develop advanced technologies if no measures are taken. “All Japanese reactor makers need to join hands to protect the country’s nuclear technology,” he said.

With the merger of nuclear fuel businesses in sight, the next challenge will be to restore each company’s reactor unit, which have barely remained profitable with only maintenance operations being done. Reactors are classified into two types: pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors. Some market experts are saying that reactor makers should consolidate operations regardless of reactor type.

Some countries, including Germany, are trying to break away from nuclear power generation, while a number of countries are planning to build new ones. In the U.K., a consortium of Hitachi and General Electric are planning to build nuclear power plants, while Toshiba has plans to construct them on its own. Toshiba’s U.S. nuclear power unit Westinghouse Electric is looking to boost orders in China and India. Mitsubishi Heavy is also looking to expand overseas with new reactors jointly developed with Areva group of France.

That said, Chinese, South Korean and Russian rivals are also actively expanding overseas. To hold a technological lead, Japanese makers must curb costs and build a system to develop technologies.


Fukushima: Living a Disaster

Five years after the nuclear accident in Fukushima, an end to the disaster is not in sight. This short documentary tells the story of the people from Fukushima, forced to leave their homes without knowing if they could ever return, and explores the work that Greenpeace has been doing in the region since 2011. Sign the petition to end the nuclear nightmare and switch on renewables! http://grnpc.org/IgNDC

TEPCO to begin removing tainted water at Fukushima plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. intends to begin pumping up highly contaminated water accumulating in the basements of buildings at its wrecked Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant by the end of March.

TEPCO disclosed its strategy Sept. 28 at a review meeting with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the government’s nuclear watchdog.

In response, the NRA urged the utility to provide a detailed road map for the project.

Removing the huge volume of radioactive water in the reactor, turbine and other buildings has posed an urgent challenge for TEPCO.

The NRA pressed it to take action as soon as possible, pointing out that the contaminated water in the buildings’ basements is a likely reason flowing groundwater also gets polluted.

The NRA is also concerned that the contaminated water in the basements might leak into the sea if the nuclear complex is struck by another powerful tsunami.

TEPCO estimates that 68,000 tons of tainted water exists below the reactor and turbine buildings, as well as other structures.

Particularly worrisome is the estimated 2,000 tons of highly radioactive water in the condensers of the No. 1 through No. 3 turbine buildings, which accounts for 80 percent of the radioactive materials in all of the tainted water.

The contaminated water was transferred to the condensers in the immediate aftermath of the March 2011 triple meltdown.

TEPCO plans to finish transferring the water in the condensers by the first half of the next fiscal year and all of the contaminated water in the basements by 2020.


Heavy rains stall assessment of frozen wall at Fukushima plant

ice wall cooling equipment.jpg

The equipment that cools coolant for the ice wall at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported a delay in the underground ice wall project at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, citing the stalled assessment of the structure due to heavy rains from a recent typhoon.

The utility reported the delay at a review meeting with the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the government’s nuclear watchdog, on Sept. 28. TEPCO initially planned to assess the effectiveness of the ice wall by the end of this month.

According to TEPCO, the volume of groundwater pumped up in areas on the sea side of the facility was supposed to have dropped by now if the ice wall functioned properly.

But the company acknowledged this had not happened.

TEPCO had sought NRA approval to freeze a section of the ice wall facing the mountainside to enhance the effect of blocking groundwater, but it did not get the go-ahead.

It does not make sense that the company sought approval to freeze the area facing the mountainside, just because the ice wall on the sea side did not go well,” said Toyoshi Fuketa, a commissioner of the NRA, told the meeting.

The groundwater level in the sea side portion outside the ice wall reached the surface on and off between Sept. 20 and Sept. 23 when the plant was struck by torrential rain as a result of Typhoon No. 16.

TEPCO said rainwater flowed into the sea, rather than seeping into the ground, because of the higher groundwater level.

Radioactive cesium in samples taken from the sea nearby measured a record high 95 becquerels per 1 liter.

According to the company, 0.8 percent of 5,800 or so observation spots set up on the sea side section of the ice wall showed that the soil has not been entirely frozen.

TEPCO officials believe that groundwater penetrated gaps in the ice wall before pushing up the groundwater level in the area downstream near the sea.

The frozen soil wall was built around the No. 1 through No. 4 reactor buildings. The government poured 35 billion yen ($350 million) into the project.

The objective was to block groundwater from mixing with contaminated water in the basements of the reactor and other buildings.

TEPCO started freezing soil in late March, but not all of the soil turned into ice, allowing a huge volume of groundwater to accumulate.




TEPCO Delays Replacing Tainted Water Tanks



Tokyo, Sept. 28 (Jiji Press)–Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. <9501> has effectively given up replacing tainted water storage tanks at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station with safer ones at an early date, it was learned Wednesday.

It is believed to be the first time that the power firm has abandoned a deadline in its decommissioning work timetable, revised in June last year.

TEPCO now expects to finish the work in June 2018 at the earliest, according to documents submitted to a panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

TEPCO initially planned to finish replacing the storage tanks with welded low-leakage ones early in the current business year through March 2017.

TEPCO remains unable to stop increases in the amount of radioactive water. The amount of contaminated water stored in the current tanks with a higher risk of leakage stood above 110,000 tons as of Thursday.