News / Asia

Scientists Plan a Controlled Nuclear Meltdown

FILE-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees and journalists wearing protective suits and masks look at the spent fuel pool inside the building housing the Unit 4 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima.FILE-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees and journalists wearing protective suits and masks look at the spent fuel pool inside the building housing the Unit 4 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima.
x
FILE-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees and journalists wearing protective suits and masks look at the spent fuel pool inside the building housing the Unit 4 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima.
FILE-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees and journalists wearing protective suits and masks look at the spent fuel pool inside the building housing the Unit 4 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima.
VOA News
Japanese nuclear scientists say they plan to create a controlled nuclear meltdown looking for clues how to deal with possible future disasters.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday said it will use a scaled-down nuclear reactor to deliberately create conditions of a serious malfunction. The experiment will start later this year at a research facility in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo.

Meltdowns occur when the nuclear fuel in the reactor's core, normally very hot in order to create steam for turbines that create electricity, overheats beyond its melting point. This can cause explosion and release of radioactive material, as has happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011, after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami.

But Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at The Union of Concerned Scientists, says Japanese researchers are going to take only a small sample of the fuel that was in the Fukushima reactor and will subject it to conditions that will cause it to melt, so they can actually study how this process occurs.

"This type of experiment is usually under very carefully controlled conditions," he said. "The amount of material involved is very small and the facility is going to be secured and filtered. So I think there's very little risk associated with this experiment to the public."

Lyman added for many decades similar experiments have been carried out in many different facilities on a very limited basis.

"They are, however, very expensive and preparations are extremely difficult, so there's relatively little data available from this type of experiment, and this is one of the reasons why the Japanese are doing this one now," he said.

Since the accident at Fukushima plant, the Japanese public has become much more interested in the prevention of future accidents. Similar tests have been conducted by all major nations with nuclear power plants, including the United States, but never in Japan.

You May Like

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kitagawa Keikoh from: Roppongi, TKO
January 10, 2014 11:12 PM
Technology is such a kind of thing. We do not really understand our nature but we can use it as a technology because we design systems with a great safety factors.

Big disasters can improve our technologies as shown in the history of science technologies.

I hope we can learn a lot from the Fukushima disaster.


by: Anonymous
January 09, 2014 10:57 PM
Really? Don't you think this should have been done before the reactors were even built? Its a little too late now.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid