In what may later be recognized as the first step to removing TEPCO as the organization in charge of decommissioning the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan has taken action to establish an organization called the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning under which public and private sector parties in Japan can research and debate decommissioning options at Fukushima Daiichi.
The research institute will be formed by over 500 experts from 17 parties which include national research institutes, utilities and manufacturers. One of the focuses of the organization will be to develop remote-controlled robots which will be needed to work in areas with high radiation levels to remove the melted nuclear fuel. Another area of focus will be the prevention of the escape of contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean.
The institute will be lead by Kyoto University Professor Hajimu Yamana, who has close links with the nuclear industry, and was formerly selected by the Japanese government to draw up new nuclear safety guidelines. During those discussions, while the majority of citizens in Japan were calling for Japan to abandon nuclear power altogether, Yamana was urging his peers to continue to put faith in the nuclear industry saying, “Nuclear power is an important energy that supports Japan. The development of fast(-breeder) reactors (that use spent nuclear fuel for recycling) should be continued.” In February of 2012, it was learned that Yamana had been one of many experts in Japan which received substantial cash donations from the nuclear power industry, which many argued compromised their ability to not be influenced by the industry interests.
Japan faces an uphill battle with its efforts to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi reactor as neither TEPCO nor the Japanese government know the root cause of the on-going problems being experienced at the plant, which are turning out to be more complicated than were ever imagined prior to the March 11th disaster.
Source: Asahi Shimbun