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

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More