News / Asia

    IAEA Monitors Decommissioning of Fukushima Nuclear Plant

    FILE - An aerial view shows the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its contaminated water storage tanks.
    FILE - An aerial view shows the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and its contaminated water storage tanks.
    VOA News
    U.N. nuclear experts have arrived in Japan to assess the progress of the decommissioning of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

    Officials said on Monday that the 19-member team from the International Atomic Energy Agency are on a 10-day mission to monitor the management of tons of contaminated water at the site, and to check on progress in the removal and storage of fuel rods. The team will also look at future plans for containing the worst nuclear accident in a generation - a process that could take 40 years.

    The IAEA team will visit the Fukushima site and talk with government officials and management of the Tokyo Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the plant.

    The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, 220 kilometers north of Tokyo, was destroyed by a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. More than 150,000 residents were evacuated after the meltdown of three nuclear reactors.
     
    During their last review in April, the IAEA was critical of TEPCO’s cleanup effort, saying its plan had an unrealistic time frame and calling for a comprehensive approach to handling contaminated water.
     
    The government, academics and other experts have since roundly criticized TEPCO over a long series of leaks of contaminated water. The company acknowledged in July that radiated water had been reaching the Pacific Ocean, probably since the disaster.
     
    “There continues to be significant public disquiet over the disclosure of various issues around the Fukushima plant, including the water contamination issue into the Pacific Ocean despite the government's increased involvement in the clean-up activities,” said Tom O'Sullivan, founder of independent energy consultancy Mathyos Japan.
     
    Improved Water Management
     
    After the government said in September it would step in to oversee the process, water management has improved. That has allowed TEPCO to turn to the real decommissioning work and start removing the spent fuel rods - a process described by one expert as similar to removing cigarettes from a crushed pack.
     
    Last week, TEPCO completed the removal of the first batch of rods from a cooling pool. Its technicians must pluck more than 1,500 brittle and potentially damaged assemblies from a pool stored 18 meters above ground level in a building that was tilted during the quake.
     
    The fuel extraction is an early stage in the decommissioning process, and serves as an important test for a skeptical government and public that the utility can handle the cleanup.
     
    The experts will also assess efforts to treat and find storage space for hundreds of tons of radioactive water that TEPCO dumps over the wrecked reactors every day to keep them cool.
     
    The acknowledgement that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of the hastily built tanks on site triggered international alarm over Japan's handling of the cleanup.
     
    The government has pledged additional funds to deal with radioactive water. TEPCO has promised to double pay for workers after coming under fire for labor conditions inside the wreckage of the plant.
     
    An investigation last month found that workers' pay was being skimmed, and that some employees had been hired under false pretences while some contractors had links to organized crime gangs.

    Some information in this report was contributed by Reuters.

    You May Like

    South Sudan Sends First Ever Official Olympic Team to Rio

    VOA caught up with Santino Kenyi, 16, one of three athletes who will compete in this year's summer games in Brazil

    Arrest of Malawi's 'Hyena' Man Highlights Clash of Ritual, Health and Women's Rights

    Ritual practice of deflowering young girls is blamed for spreading deadly AIDS virus

    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    VOA finds things Americans take for granted are special to foreigners

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora