In 2011, a harmful earthquake and tsunami brought about the meltdown of three reactors on the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant in Japan. Now, in a milestone for the efforts to decommission the plant, employees have begun eradicating gasoline from a cooling pool close to considered one of these three reactors.
The operator of the plant—Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco)—stated on Monday that its workers had began the method of taking out 566 used and unused nuclear gasoline rods that are saved within the pool at reactor Unit 3, the Associated Press reported.
The operation to take away the gasoline rods from Unit 3, is more likely to take round two years, based on Tepco, though the identical course of should be carried out for the opposite two reactor items.
Fortunately, the gasoline rods weren’t broken by the 2011 incident—the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl—however the firm say that transferring them from their location in uncovered swimming pools inside the reactor buildings to safer floor is a crucial step for stopping catastrophe within the occasion of one other main earthquake.
The work was meant to have begun round 5 years in the past, however was delayed attributable to a number of issues, such because the presence of radioactive particles.
To take away the rods, employees are utilizing a remotely operated crane from a management room situated round 1,640 ft away from the reactor constructing that homes the rods as a result of radiation ranges there stay excessive.
In an operation that’s being carried out fully underwater to forestall radiation leaks, employees are utilizing the crane to take the gasoline rods from their storage rack and inserting them in a protecting cask that may maintain seven items.
Once every of those protecting casks is full, they are going to be lifted out of the pool and brought to a different one within the plant that’s situated on safer floor.
The newest strikes are usually not more likely to be the toughest a part of the decommissioning course of. This is as a result of there may be nonetheless melted gasoline contained in the nuclear reactors themselves, which goes to be very difficult to take away. In truth, it’s presently not clear how this operation will likely be carried out, partly, as a result of not a lot is thought concerning the melted gasoline—for instance, the place it’s situated precisely.
Yesterday, throughout his first go to to the stricken energy plant in additional than 5 years, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made a pledge to revive the areas that have been evacuated after the catastrophe.
“Our basic policy is that every minister is a reconstruction minister,” he stated, as reported by The Guardian. “We have reaffirmed our commitment to work for the revival of Fukushima and north-eastern Japan.”
In complete, the decommissioning course of is anticipated to take round 4 many years to finish, based on present estimates.
This March 10, 2018, image exhibits the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy plant being lit up in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture, on the eve of the seventh anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake. AFP/Getty Images