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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid