IAEA Urges Patience For Fukushima Nuclear Cleanup

IAEA-Mission-Nov-18-Fukushima-Daiichi-1.jpg
February 8th, 2019
 
“Despite these achievements, many challenges remain to be tackled in the decommissioning process, and ensuring safety in this complex situation requires sustained daily attention.” The new report follows up on original analysis presented to Japanese authorities in November and finds that the “risk reduction strategy is being implemented at a pace commensurate with the challenges of the site-specific situation.” That being said, however, “the IAEA Review Team continues to identify water management as critical to the sustainability of decommissioning activities” and has urged for a decision for the disposition of contaminated water to “be taken urgently engaging all stakeholders.” Specifically, the IAEA Review Team determined that it is necessary to determine an end-game for the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) sooner rather than later, considering that “the volume of ALPS treated water [is] expected to reach the planned tank capacity of 1.37 million [metres-cubed] within the coming three to four years, and considering current site facility plan for space allocations, and that further treatment and control of the stored water before disposition would be needed for implementation of any of the five solutions considered by the Japanese Government.” (For more on TEPCO’s contaminated water treatment, see here.) Further, but regarding the retrieval and end-game of radioactive fuel debris, the report’s authors state that “there should be a clear implementation plan defined to safely manage the retrieved material” and that “TEPCO should ensure that appropriate containers and storage capacity are available before starting the fuel debris retrieval.” There is therefore need for immediate decisionmaking but long-term patience and goals in place to thoroughly address the large amount of radioactive and contaminated waste.
 

IAEA urges Japan to take ample time in Fukushima cleanup

cleaning fuk.jpg
By Mari Yamaguchi
January 31
TOKYO — The International Atomic Energy Agency urged Japan on Thursday to spend ample time in developing a decommissioning plan for the tsunami-damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant and to be honest with the public about remaining uncertainties.
In a report based on a visit by an IAEA team to the plant in November, the agency urged the operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., to secure adequate space and finish plans for managing highly radioactive melted fuel before starting to remove it from the three damaged reactors.
The cores of the three reactors melted after a massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Utility and government officials plan to start removing the melted fuel in 2021, but still know little about its condition and have not finalized waste management plans.
“The IAEA review team advises that before the commencement of the fuel debris retrieval activities, there should be a clear implementation plan defined to safely manage the retrieved material,” the report said. “TEPCO should ensure that appropriate containers and storage capacity are available before starting the fuel debris retrieval.”
The report also urged the government and TEPCO to carefully consider ways to express “the inherent uncertainties involved” in the project and develop “a credible plan” for the long term. It advised TEPCO to consider adopting contingency plans to “accommodate any schedule delays.”
Dale Klein, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman who heads a TEPCO reform committee, said in a recent interview that the decommissioning should not be rushed, even if the government and TEPCO have set a schedule and people want to see it move faster.
“It’s much better to do it right than do it fast,” he said, adding that it’s also good not to rush from a health and safety perspective. “Clearly, the longer you wait, the less the radiation is.”
He said he would be “astounded” if the current schedule ends up unchanged.
In order to make room in the plant compound to safely store the melted fuel and for other needed facilities, about 1 million tons of radioactive waste water currently stored in hundreds of tanks will have to be removed. The IAEA team, headed by Xerri Christoph, an expert on radioactive waste, urged the government and TEPCO to urgently decide how to dispose of it.
Nuclear experts, including officials at the IAEA and Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority, have said a controlled release of the water into the Pacific Ocean is the only realistic option. A release, however, is unlikely until after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in order to avoid concerns among visitors from overseas.

Tepco Says The Fukushima Cleanup ‘Is Progressing’, But at a Painstaking Pace

Last July 2017 Tepco’s remotely piloted robots transmitted view of what could be melted radioactive fuel inside Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s destroyed reactors — actually Tepco wants to believe that it is melted radioactive fuel but has not been able to get it confirmed since then.
tl5ymnfkrwpkzzynwxmw.jpg
The Fukushima Cleanup Is Progressing, But at a Painstaking Pace
Earlier this year, remotely piloted robots transmitted what officials believe was a direct view of melted radioactive fuel inside Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant’s destroyed reactors—a major discovery, but one that took a long and painful six years to achieve. In the meantime, the program to clean up the destroyed reactors has seen numerous setbacks and concerns, including delays on Japanese electrical utility Tepco’s timetable to begin removing the highly radioactive fuel and continued leakage of small amounts of radioactive substances.
Japanese officials are now hoping that they can convince a skeptical public that the worst of the disaster is over, the New York Times reported, but it’s not clear whether it’s too late despite the deployment of 7,000 workers and massive resources to return the region to something approaching normal. Per the Times, officials admit the recovery plan—involving the complete destruction of the plant, rather than simply building a concrete sarcophagus around it as the Russians did in Chernobyl—will take decades and tens of billions of dollars. Currently, Tepco plans to begin removing waste from one of the three contaminated reactors at the plant by 2021, “though they have yet to choose which one.”
“Until now, we didn’t know exactly where the fuel was, or what it looked like,” Tepco manager Takahiro Kimoto told the Times. “Now that we have seen it, we can make plans to retrieve it.”
“They are being very methodical—too slow, some would say—in making a careful effort to avoid any missteps or nasty surprises,” Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear safety director David Lochbaum added. “They want to regain trust. They have learned that trust can be lost much quicker than it can be recovered.”
Currently, radiation levels are so high in the ruined facility that it fries robots sent in within a matter of hours, which will necessitate developing a new generation of droids with even higher radiation significantly smaller, but less safe containment than industry standard” that safety experts repeatedly raised concerns about, the lawsuit said.
GE designed all six reactors at Fukushima — building two on site and advising on the construction of the rest. Original designs for the power plant called for it to be built near a bluff 115 feet above sea level. But GE — to save money — lowered the bluff to 80 feet, court papers say, “dramatically increasing the flood risk.”
Backup systems in the event of a problem at the nuclear plant were also woefully lacking, causing the cooling system to fail, the suit states. ge_sued_for_fukushima_disaster tolerances. Authorities have built a crane on the roof of one melted-down reactor, unit No. 3, to remove fuel, Phys.org reported, though it will not actually be in use until at least April 2018. Disposal of low level waste such as “rice straw, sludge and ash from waste incineration” has only just begun, the Japan Times wrote. The eventual disposal of more dangerous waste will be much more difficult.
At the same time, criticism of the government’s approach is also mounting with concerns it is pressuring residents to return to an area where radiation exposure remains many times the international standard.

Debris recovery operation in sea carried out for first time since Fukushima nuclear disaster

The Japan Today article cites it as tsunami debris but it would also include debris from the reactor explosions at the plant. Pieces from these explosions have been found as far inland as Naraha. Why this work had not been done sooner was not mentioned.

57eb0117c46188c26c8b4567.jpg

Japan performs tsunami debris cleanup off Fukushima 1st time since nuclear disaster

Local fisheries have begun a debris cleanup near the Fukushima plant for the first time since the tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster. However a plan to start trial fishing next year may face a setback as a nearly-completed ice wall is failing to halt water contamination.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude-9 earthquake struck northeastern Japan at 2:46pm local time, unleashing a deadly tsunami. Less than an hour after the earthquake, the first of many tsunami waves hit Japan’s coastline. The tsunami waves reached heights of up to 39 meters (128 feet) at Miyako city and reached as far as 10 km (6 miles) ashore in Sendai, destroying everything in its wake. More than 15,000 people died.

At the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the tsunami caused a cooling system failure resulting in a nuclear meltdown and the release of radioactive materials. The waves forced the failure of electrical power and backup generators, leading the plant to lose its cooling capabilities. The retreating water sucked a vast amount of rubble into the depths of the Pacific Ocean, contaminating the traditional fishing grounds of the local companies.

Five years after the disaster a cleanup effort to remove the debris has finally been launched by collectives of local fishermen, who aim to start trial fishing expeditions within the area from 5 kilometers (3 miles) to 20 km (12 miles) off the wrecked plant.

On Monday Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association send out 32 fishing boats to recover debris from the ocean floor. That fleet is focusing their efforts on the North side of the nuclear power plant.

On Tuesday, the Iwaki City Fisheries Cooperative Association also sent in their fleet to help with the cleanup efforts of the southern side of the contaminated segment.

Once the debris is pulled out and delivered to shore, the unloading of the waste is handled by the industrial waste treatment company. The rubble is then sent to a temporary storage facility where after an inspection for radioactive reading, cleared waste is disposed of in an industrial manner. It is as of yet unclear how the contaminated waste will be treated.

The cleanup work of the seabed endorsed by the Fisheries Agency is scheduled to last at least until February of next year. Fishing on a trial basis can start as early as March.

However such a prospect seem problematic as the recently-completed ice wall around the crippled station has failed to meet expectations, with contaminated groundwater still seeping into the sea.

The $320 million Land-Side Impermeable Wall was built to halt an unrelenting flood of groundwater into the damaged reactor buildings and consequent flow of the contaminated water into the ocean.

But on Tuesday the Japanese government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported that 1.5 km (1 mile) barrier frozen barrier failed to produce the intended results, Nikkei reported

While gaps still remain in some sections of the ocean-facing side of the wall, TEPCO believes that the inflows that penetrate the contaminated reactor are concentrated at seven unfrozen sections on the inland side.

A similar concern was voiced last month by the operator which claimed that 99 percent of the wall’s is mostly solid and frozen. However, a remaining one percent showed temperatures of the barrier above the freezing point, meaning that the contamination is not fully contained.

TEPCO has been repeatedly facing criticism for the handling of the Fukushima crisis. Despite the ongoing problems encountered following the meltdowns, the company has set 2020 as the goal for ending the plant’s water problem.

The problem of water contamination however is just one of many surrounding the dismantling and decommissioning of the Fukushima plant debris which is estimated to take at least 40 years.

We will continue to move forward with the decommissioning and contaminated water management in a transparent way, visible to the world, and will also share with the international community the lessons learned from this accident,” Hirotaka Ishihara, state minister of the cabinet office of Japan, told the International Atomic Energy Agency’s 60th General Conference earlier this week.

We are also making ongoing efforts to ensure the safety of food produced in Japan,” he added. “Recognizing that many countries have already lifted restrictions on food imports from Japan, we encourage the international community to implement import policies based on scientific evidence.”

https://www.rt.com/news/360879-fukushima-fishery-cleanup-debris/#.V-s-7I2uaW0.facebook

Debris recovery operation in sea carried out for first time since Fukushima nuclear disaster

FUKUSHIMA — For the first time since the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the removal of debris in seawater located up to 20 km from the plant site has finally started.

The recovery operation, which began Monday, focuses on the removal of rubble in seawater within 5 to 20 km of the wrecked plant, Sankei Shimbun reported.

Five and a half years after the disaster, fishing has yet to be carried out in these waters while tsunami debris on the ocean floor near the Fukushima plant has remained untouched. 

With an aim to start trial fishing operations within this targeted cleanup area, the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association employed 32 fishing boats to recover debris such as driftwood and gill nets on Monday.

Following suit, from Tuesday, the Iwaki City Fisheries Cooperative Association started debris removal operations and will continue the cleanup efforts until February of next year.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/debris-recovery-operation-in-sea-carried-out-for-first-time-since-fukushima-nuclear-disaster