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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid