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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid