IAEA says decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi to exceed expectations

IAEA Investigation at Fukushima Daiichi - April 2013

After investigating the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last week, Juan Carlos Lentijo, the head of the investigating team, admitted that the work to decommission and stabilize the reactors the plant is so complex that it is “impossible” for experts to predict how long the project may last.

“As for the duration of the decommissioning project, this is something that you can define in your plans. But in my view, it will be nearly impossible to ensure the time for decommissioning such a complex facility in less than 30-40 years as it is currently established in the roadmap,” Lentijo said.

The IAEA expert warned of future problems which will undoubtedly occur.  “It is expectable in such a complex site, additional incidence will occur as it happened in the nuclear plants under normal operations,” Lentijo said. “It is important to have a very good capability to identify as promptly as possible failures and to establish compensatory measures.”

Previously, the Japanese government and nuclear safety experts had assumed that the decommissioning would be completed in 30 to 40 years, but admitted that it was impossible to carry out many critical missions at this time to lack of resources, manpower, and available technology.  Over two years have passed since the onset of the disaster, yet critical systems still rely on ad-hoc equipment and have experienced frequent problems and setbacks.

The crippled reactors onsite are still releasing enormous amounts of radiation both aerially and into the ocean and TEPCO officials are unable to determine the amount of seepage taking place underneath the devastated reactor buildings where radiation levels are too high for humans to enter and investigate.  Due to its close proximity to the ocean, these underground leaks pose serious contamination threats and increase the possibility of leaking radioactive water to be affected by rising tides and elevated groundwater levels, which are unstoppable.

Source: CBS News

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