Day 178 BBC Documentary from March 2011: A reminder of what Japan has been through and may yet face

BBC Documentary made 2 weeks after 3-11. Excellent report based on the news they had at that time. How things have changed, and they haven’t in many ways, since then.

Mega Disasters – Japan Great Earthquake 2011 Documentary

Part 1

Part 2

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In ‘uncharted territory,’ TEPCO drafts fuel-removal plan

September 01, 2011

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has drafted a blueprint for removing fuel from reactors and storage pools at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a task described by experts as unprecedented, daunting and even mind-boggling.

In the draft plan presented at a meeting of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission on Aug. 31, TEPCO said it will fill containment and pressure vessels with water, inspect the condition of the fuel with cameras and then remove the damaged fuel.

The meeting was held in Tokyo’s Kasumigaseki district to study measures to decommission the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors at the Fukushima plant.

However, TEPCO failed to provide a specific time schedule for removing the 1,496 nuclear fuel assemblies from the No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors.

“We are not yet in a position to decide on details (of the plan),” said Kazuhiro Takei, general manager of TEPCO’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Department.

It could take up to a decade to even start the fuel-removal process.

Fuel melted and accumulated at the bottom of the pressure vessels of the three reactors after cooling functions were lost in the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Experts who attended the meeting described the enormous challenge ahead in dealing with the unprecedented accident, in which meltdowns occurred simultaneously at three reactors.

“We will step into uncharted territory as far as working environment and job requirements are concerned,” one participant said.

“A mind-boggling task lies ahead of us,” said another.

Some experts said the melted fuel could change shape and lead to nuclear fission when it is being removed. They said workers must carefully monitor conditions while removing the fuel.

“We will be required to take a process of trial and error and review work procedures whenever it is necessary,” said Hirofumi Nakamura, a senior official at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

In the first step of the draft plan, TEPCO will remove radioactivity inside reactor buildings with robots and remote-control equipment.

Workers will then determine the conditions of the containment vessels and repair the damaged parts to prevent water from leaking to turbine buildings and other places.

In the second step, TEPCO will fill the containment and pressure vessels with water to cool damaged fuel, which is emitting heat, and inspect fuel conditions inside the pressure vessels with cameras. Water shields radioactivity.

The company plans to vacuum out or grab away the fuel with special equipment. There has been no decision yet on how to dispose of the melted fuel.

TEPCO will also begin removing 3,108 nuclear fuel assemblies from storage pools of the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors in about three years because they are not seriously damaged.

Overhead cranes and fuel replacement systems will be installed at storage pools of the No. 1, 3 and 4 reactors because fuel removal equipment was destroyed in the hydrogen explosions at the reactor buildings.

Fuel removed from storage pools will be kept at a common-use pool near the No. 4 reactor building.

Step 2 of the road map for stabilizing the reactors at the Fukushima plant is scheduled to be completed between October and January 2012.

Within three years after Step 2 is completed, containers will be installed to cover the damaged reactor buildings.

TEPCO hopes to begin removing melted fuel in 10 years, according to its earlier estimate based on the Three Mile Island accident in the United States in 1979.

It will take several decades to dismantle and relocate the reactors, according to the estimate.

In the Three Mile Island accident, melted fuel remained inside pressure vessels. At the Fukushima plant, damaged fuel leaked to the outer containment vessels.

It will be extremely difficult to collect damaged fuel scattered in and outside the reactors. It will be no less easy to remove radioactivity and repair damages because various parts of the plant are contaminated with high levels of radioactivity.

(This article was written by Tatsuyuki Kobori and Hidenori Tsuboya.)

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Hosono says all of Japan should help with Fukushima’s contaminated debris

NATIONAL SEP. 05, 2011 – 06:50AM JST ( 32 )TOKYO —
Environment Minister Goshi Hosono, who is also the minister in charge of handling the nuclear crisis, said Sunday that contaminated debris and soil from Fukushima Prefecture should be disposed of outside the prefecture. He said that all of Japan needs to share Fukushima’s plight by providing sites for disposal of the debris.

Last week, Hosono said that he supported the construction of a temporary storage facility for radioactive waste in Fukushima Prefecture, but that idea has been opposed by prefectural government officials. He reiterated Sunday that the government will consult Fukushima officials before making a final decision.

The Diet on Aug 26 enacted a new law requiring the state to clean up debris and soil contaminated with radioactive matter.

Japan Today

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“We All Have to Share the Pain of Fukushima”

From EX-SKF [Read the entire article at:]

Goshi Hosono, former assistant to ex-prime minister Kan Naoto, current minister in charge of the Fukushima nuclear accident and the new Minister of the Environment whose Ministry will have the regulatory agency for the nuclear industry and will be in charge also of the government “decontamination” and cleanup effort in Tohoku, declared on September 4 that the entire Japan must share the pain of Fukushima.

He might as well include the entire northern hemisphere, as this, as many in Japan outside Fukushima have taken to mean spreading the radioactive debris all over Japan to expedite the disposal so that “Fukushima can recover”. Japan’s favorite method of disposing the debris and garbage, as you now know, is to burn.

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70% of prefectures baffled on nuclear drill

An NHK survey shows about 70 percent of Japanese prefectures with nuclear power plants cannot hold nuclear accident disaster drills this fiscal year or are undecided about doing so.

NHK asked 13 prefectures whether they will hold the drills in fiscal 2011, which ends in March.

In the past the prefectures have conducted annual drills in areas up to 10 kilometers away from nuclear plants in line with government anti-disaster guidelines. The drills were designed to evacuate nearby residents and have the organizations concerned coordinate the process.

But evacuation zones put in place after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March have far exceeded those previously planned by the government.

Three prefectures — Aomori, Fukushima and Ibaraki — said they are unable to hold drills this fiscal year. Six prefectures, including Hokkaido and Fukui, said they are undecided about doing so.

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20 killed, over 50 missing as strong typhoon hits western Japan

TOKYO (Kyodo) — At least 20 people were dead, more than 50 others were missing and around 3,600 were left stranded as a powerful typhoon brought torrential rain causing massive floods and mudslides in western Japan on Sunday, a Kyodo News tally showed.

The number of victims from Typhoon Talas could grow in a wide area including the Kii Peninsula, south of Osaka, as flooded rivers, damaged roads and mudslides have hampered relief work by police and firefighters.

The government set up an emergency task force on Sunday evening as the scale of the damage from the typhoon increased, with casualties confirmed in six prefectures so far.

Japan has only experienced a few typhoons since 1990 in which the combined number of dead and missing has topped or neared 50.

As of 6 p.m., the typhoon, packing winds of up to 72 kilometers per hour near its center, was traveling slowly north-northeast off the Sea of Japan coast in western Japan, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. The atmospheric pressure at its center was 994 hectopascals.

The agency warned of continued heavy rainfall Monday in both western and eastern Japan as well as the northernmost main island of Hokkaido. The typhoon made its way to the Sea of Japan via Okayama and Tottori prefectures.

The hourly rainfall in Shingu, Wakayama Prefecture, reached a record 132.5 millimeters and that in Kumano, Mie Prefecture, stood at a record 101.5 mm, according to the agency.

A mudslide early Sunday engulfed six homes in Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture, leaving one woman dead, and two other women and two male high school students missing. A man also died in Minabe after his home was swept away in a mudslide early Sunday, according to police.

In Nachikatsuura, most of a train bridge over the Nachi River, on West Japan Railway Co.’s Kisei Line, collapsed and was washed away.

At least 3,600 people were left isolated in four municipalities in Wakayama Prefecture as of Sunday evening because of landslides and collapsed bridges, according to the Kyodo tally.

In Nara Prefecture, three people were killed, including a woman in Gojo as a local river overflowed and washed away 10 homes in two locations. In Totsukawa, seven people went missing and a 36-year-old woman died after two homes were washed away.

A record 591.1 mm of rain fell in Totsukawa on Saturday, according to the agency.

The typhoon also damaged Nijojo castle in Kyoto, wrenching off a piece of plaster 1.5 meters by 1 meter from the wall of one of the castle gates. The castle, a popular tourism spot, has been designated by the government as an important cultural property.

As far away as Akita Prefecture, in the northeast of Japan, the typhoon forced the temporary suspension of Akita Shinkansen bullet train services on Sunday afternoon due to fallen trees on the tracks, East Japan Railway Co. said.

(Mainichi Japan) September 5, 2011


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