FUKUSHIMA–A tour of the infamous crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is in store for some college students here over the coming years.
Fukushima University officials say it is crucial that future nuclear power plant decommissioning workers such as engineers are given the opportunity to examine the current state of the nuclear plant and gain experience from doing so.
The extracurricular tour of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was wrecked by the tsunami and the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011, will start within the next fiscal year starting in April.
University officials said Feb. 1 that tour participants will be recruited from the 20 or so students who are working on radiation, radioactive cleanup and other research subjects at the Faculty of Symbiotic Systems Science.
Eligibility for the tours of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be expanded in and after fiscal 2018, the officials added.
The tours will be organized as part of a program that won a bidding process initiated by the science ministry for research and personnel development projects that help accelerate nuclear decommissioning processes.
The program has been designated to receive subsidies over a five-year period from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2019.
TEPCO officials said the company has allowed university students to tour the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in the past, most of whom were from laboratories working on nuclear decommissioning processes and radiation.
A total of about 40 executive staff members, clerical workers and other officials of Fukushima University, including President Katsumi Nakai, have toured the nuclear plant twice this fiscal year, in December and January, respectively.
“With rubble and other objects cleaned up, it appeared to me that the place was tidy, but some areas were still beyond anybody’s reach and control, so I thought the situation remained difficult,” Nakai said of his impression of the Fukushima No. 1 plant during a news conference on Feb. 1.
He said he came to believe, while exchanging views with TEPCO officials, that nuclear decommissioning processes require not only personnel with scientific backgrounds but also risk communication personnel who have backgrounds in psychology and other subjects.
“The end of the five-year period (of the science ministry subsidies) will not mean the end of our efforts,” Nakai said. “We have to work on the long-term development of nuclear decommissioning personnel. We will think about creating opportunities, in the future, for taking students of human and social sciences on our tours.”