Monday, June 10, 2013

Abe Administration's Plan to "Expedite" Corium Removal at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant As July Upper House Election Ploy?

The national government and TEPCO announced the revised "roadmap" (draft) for the decommissioning of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on June 10, 2013, in which the removal of corium (fuel debris) is to be expedited by one and a half year ahead of the original schedule.

And no one says/asks/wonders (except for people like "Happy" and Ryuichi Kino),


Mainichi doesn't ask that kind of fundamental question either. Instead, it sort of speculates, by quoting someone else and not as the paper's opinion or analysis. Sort of cross between the tabloid newspaper and the government PR department.

What are the speculations? That it is a ploy to secure the win for the LDP in the coming Upper House election in July, and that it is to prompt residents in the former evacuation zones around the plant to return sooner.

From Mainichi Shinbun (6/10/2013):

福島第1原発:燃料位置さえ不明 廃炉予定も変わらず

Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Locations of fuel debris unknown, decommissioning schedule unchanged


"Pie in the sky", may be just the ploy for the Upper House election


The revised roadmap was announced on June, in which the removal of fuel debris inside the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant would be expedited by the maximum one and a half year. The decommissioning was still scheduled to end sometime "between 30 and 40 years" from now. The reality is that we don't even know where the fuel debris is. Unless there is a new technology development, the "roadmap" could be nothing but "pie in the sky".


There are [or rather, was] total 1496 fuel assemblies inside the reactors in Reactors 1 through 3, and total 3106 fuel assemblies in the Spent Fuel Pools in Reactors 1 through 4. The fuel inside the reactors is called "debris" (corium), which is considered to be a mass of fuel mixed with metals. A fuel assembly weighs about 300 kilograms. It would require sophisticated technology to cut and collect the [total] 450 tonnes of radioactive fuel debris by remote control.


In order to expedite the removal, the key would be the success of "water entombment" of the reactors. It is a technique to shield radiation, but there are holes in the reactors at Fukushima I Nuke Plant which must be filled with water. Identifying and repairing the holes would be a problem.


The national government and TEPCO will examine the decommissioning technology, and decide by the end of the next fiscal year whether it is possible to expedite the removal of fuel debris.


The official in charge at the Agency of Natural Resources and Energy under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry indicated the possibility that the plan may be delayed, during the press conference on June 10, saying "Expediting the debris removal depends on the R&D. It could be pushed further back." The revision of the roadmap has been spear-headed by Minister of Economy Toshimitsu Motegi, and some see this push for expediting the debris removal as "PR for the Upper House Election to show the positive result of the regime change".


Professor Satoru Tanaka of Tokyo University, who is knowledgeable about decommissioning, says, "I would like to commend the government for expediting the decommissioning schedule in order to encourage early return of the residents. However, there are many technologies to be developed, and the government need to continue the support for new technology development."

Dr. Satoru Tanaka was the 33rd chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan (aka "nuclear village").


netudiant said...

The clean up time table is so poorly documented that the government can make any change it wants, provided only that the activity involved is at least 5 years in the future. When that time comes closer, further adjustments can then be made.
It seems very plausible that the principal purpose of this announcement is to accelerate the return of the residents, as Prof Tanaka said. The government seems willing to pay the price, an increase in the ambient radiation levels throughout Japan, in order to avoid having the Fukushima region become stigmatized.

Anonymous said...

your last sentence should read "in order to stem damage payments to Fukushima residents", I doubt stigmas have anything to do with early returns.

Anonymous said...

The "corium problem" is at present time totally irrelevant - the corium is now giving off ever less heat, and is relatively safe where it currently lies, i.e. there's no point in sacrificing workers to try to retrieve it early.
Much more pressing questions are the "cesium problem" all over the land, and the "water problem" at the plant. Forget the corium for now!

Anonymous said...

Anon at 5:37PM, you're missing the point entirely. It's not about the "actual" problems at hand. It's the impression the government wants to give to the world, and winning the election.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding scientific breakthrough! Kansai Electric could predict the maximum acceleration that the three faults below reactor 2 at Oi npp would cause in case of an earthquake (750 gal).
The world geologists are unable to predict major eartquakes but Kepco can predict what acceleration they cause. The NRA has abandoned entirely the pro-safety stance it had so far about Oi and Kepco will be able to apply for a restart of the reactors after their upcoming maintenance stop.
Policy is taking over on science and people safety (including the population of Osaka and Kyoto who drink lake Biwa water, located very close to Oi).

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