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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid