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fukushima-water-release-unleashes-new-nuclear-challenges-for-japan

Fukushima Water Release Unleashes New Nuclear Challenges for Japan

Twelve years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has begun to release treated radioactive water into the sea, an important step in the decommissioning of the damaged facility. Nevertheless, considerably more difficult tasks, such as the removal of melted fuel, still need to be completed.

Fuel debris was maintained underwater during retrieval efforts at Three Mile Island (TMI), a U.S. nuclear facility in Pennsylvania that partially melted down in 1979 after a failure. This provided a buffer from radiation.

Prior to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, which was then a part of the Soviet Union, that accident at a nuclear reactor was the worst.

Because it is difficult to fill the severely damaged reactor cores with water, Japan and Tepco intend to remove the molten fuel while it is exposed to the air.

Yet that will also make it difficult to shield employees and equipment for retrieval from powerful radiation.

The debris retrieval effort will be significantly bigger and more difficult this time around because the Fukushima reactor experienced three meltdowns as opposed to only one fuel core meltdown at Three Mile Island.

A 22-meter-long (72-foot) robot arm that is remotely operated will do the retrieve. Even though the plant’s total amount of molten fuel is thought to be 880 metric tonnes, the initial stage’s extraction goal is only a few grams.

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Fukushima’s Ongoing Struggle with Radioactive Soil

fukushima-water-release-unleashes-new-nuclear-challenges-for-japan
Twelve years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has begun to release treated radioactive water into the sea, an important step in the decommissioning of the damaged facility.

Radiation from the 2011 disaster was released into the atmosphere, eventually contaminating the soil. A portion of that contaminated earth is kept in a temporary location that is more than four times the size of Central Park in New York.

But, the law demands that the dirt kept at the temporary location, which is close to the power plant that was destroyed by the tsunami, be removed from Fukushima within 30 years of its start of operation in 2015.

Although the environment ministry states that the earliest the hunt for specific locations will begin is 2025, more than a fourth of that time has passed with no obvious indication that the government is any closer to obtaining permanent storage.

The estimated cost of the government’s response to the Fukushima accident, including compensation, decommissioning, and cleanup measures, increased to 21.5 trillion yen ($148.60 billion) in 2016.

By March 2022, around 12.1 trillion yen had been spent on such initiatives, according to Japan’s audit commission, which examines government spending.

Even before very difficult operations like fuel debris retrieval have started, that constitutes a spending of more than half of the government’s projection, prompting concerns about cost overruns.

A private think tank, the Japan Center for Economic Research, predicted in 2019 that the expenses of compensation, decommissioning, and decontamination in the event that Fukushima water was diluted and released into the sea would total 41 trillion yen.

Read Next: Japan Set to Release Fukushima Water on Thursday, Following Plans

Source: Reuters

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