by Mark Hay
IAEA fact-finding team leader Mike Weightman examines the Fukushima site. Image via Flickr user IAEA Imagebank.
Last Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe threw his weight behind the redevelopment of his nation’s nuclear energy plants. It was a bold stance, made bolder because he voiced it on the eve of the fifth anniversary of the earthquake-tsunami in northeastern Japan that left 18,500 dead or missing and precipitated the Fukushima nuclear disaster—the world’s worst since Chernobyl and the reason for the eventual shutdown of the nation’s 54 nuclear facilities.
Peter Behr, E&E reporter
EnergyWire: Monday, March 14, 2016
On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Japan’s east coast was designed to withstand a magnitude-7-plus earthquake. A flood wall 18 feet high stood between the plant and the Pacific. But the Great East Japan earthquake that day measured magnitude 9, unleashing a tsunami that topped 45 feet.
The plant was inundated, backup generators were flooded and fuel supplies were swept away. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) emergency crews soon were without any electric power to run cooling water recirculation pumps to prevent the meltdowns of three reactor cores, explosions from leaking hydrogen, and the second-worst nuclear power accident in history. TEPCO workers, who could not know whether their families were among the 18,500 people killed or missing, had to battle through a horrific crisis they had never prepared for, subsequent investigation found.
Not even robots can survive within the ruins of the Fukushima power plant. Operators lost contact with the five robots that went in, they are assumed to have broken-down from the radiation.
After a 9.0 Earthquake triggered a tsunami, killing 16,000 people and causing a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, officials began removing the spent fuel pins (or rods) back in 2013. This project was headed up by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco). They have so far removed hundreds of spent fuel rods from one of the damaged buildings, but there are still three more buildings to clear, and locating the fuel rods is proving difficult.
The Wall Street Journal
A team of rival Japanese companies unveiled a new family of robots to help workerswith the daunting task of decommissioning the three reactors that went into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011.
Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. hopes to use the robots to begin decontaminating the second and third floors of the reactor buildings sometime after April. The robots are the latest tools developed in Japan’s trial-and-error struggles to clean up the nuclear disaster– which even the most optimistic say will take about half a century.
TOKYO (Reuters) — Japan on Tuesday acknowledged the first possible casualty from radiation at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, a worker who was diagnosed with cancer after the crisis broke out in 2011.
The health ministry’s recognition of radiation as a possible cause may set back efforts to recover from the disaster, as the government and the nuclear industry have been at pains to say that the health effects from radiation have been minimal.
It may also add to compensation payments that had reached more than 7 trillion yen ($76.3 billion) by July this year.
More than 160,000 people were forced from their homes after the meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years earlier.
– See more at: http://www.safety-reporter.com/articleview/25721-japan-acknowledges-possible-radiation-casualty-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant#sthash.K90hOHgo.dpuf
Updated 10:22 AM ET, Tue August 11, 2015
| Video Source: CNN
Kyushu Electric Power Company told CNN Tuesday that ithad reactivated No. 1 reactor at its Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern island of Kyushu.
The plant’s second reactor could be restarted in October, it added.
SMARTNEWS Keeping you current
The nuclear power plant’s owners still don’t know exactly what is going on inside the three reactors that melted down
The three reactors that melted down at Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear power plant are still quite dangerous. Radiation levels remain too high for humans to enter. But the reactors need to be fully decommissioned and repaired. So robots are rolling in to give experts some eyes on the inside. For Popular Science, Mary Beth Griggs reports on the latest mechanical helper, which should make its foray into the plant at the end of August.
The Roanoke Times
Posted: Friday, June 5, 2015 3:30 pm
BLACKSBURG — The nuclear disaster four years ago in Japan after a tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant limited human involvement, particularly at the start, because of the radiation involved.
But John Seminatore, who’s pursuing a doctorate in mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech, said a robot could have done the job to limit or alleviate the damage.
“It’s not a very complicated task,” he said about the actual pumping of water on reactors, something that could have helped the situation in Japan. “The thing is that robots can do things people can’t.”
Seminatore and some other Virginia Tech students are currently in Pomona, California, where they are participating in a robotics competition hosted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — the agency within the U.S. Department of Defense that is involved in developing new technologies for the military.
Staff writer Julie Makinen reports on Japan’s effort to clean up after the 2011 meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. The work so far has cost $13 billion.