Fukushima reactors finally
brought under control
Fukushima Power Plant
EMF Computer Protection
Magnetic Field Detector
16 Dec 2011
The Japanese government has declared reactors at the
tsunami-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant to be in a state of
"cold shutdown", meaning that nine months after the worst
nuclear accident since Chernobyl has now been stabilised.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told a nuclear taskforce
meeting that the crippled Fukushima reactors "have reached a
state of cold shutdown to the point where the accident is
now under control", Jiji Press reported.
Stabilisation of the reactors, whose molten cores spewed
radioactive particles into the air and sea, marks the end of
what the government has dubbed "Step Two" of the clean-up of
the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.
The focus of recovery efforts is now expected to move onto
the decommissioning of the damaged units, amid warnings that
this process could take decades.
The government is hoping
that the announcement will bring relief to a disaster-weary
public still haunted by the effects of the monster tsunami
that tore into Japan in March.
The initial success of Step
One - the stable cooling of reactors and used fuel pools -
was announced in July, after the quake-triggered tsunami
pummelled the plant on March 11 and laid waste to much of
the northeast coast.
"This step [Step Two] means that the reactors have continued
to be in a stable condition for some time, so we can
consider that they are now under control," said Takashi
Sawada, vice chairman of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan,
a pro-nuclear group of academics and industry specialists.
However, he stressed that the use of the term "cold
shutdown" by the government and plant operator Tokyo
Electric Power (TEPCO) did not indicate that all four
disaster-hit reactors were now safe.
"But I think it's okay to say that the reactors have
basically reached a stable condition of cooling," he said,
adding the amount of radiation leaking from the plant is now
a tiny fraction of what it was in March.
Tetsunari Iida, director of the Institute for Sustainable
Energy Policies, an anti-nuclear group, said some of the
terminology was a little misleading.
"The terms 'cold shutdown' and 'decommissioning' are being
used differently from the way they are supposed to be. I'm
worried these words may be giving the impression that
everything is going to be alright now."
"The decommissioning they are talking about does not mean
what we usually think of" where fuels are removed and the
facility is taken apart.
"Decommissioning for them is to wrap up the accident. This
will take 40 years or so. They may not even be able to take
out the fuel and could have to cement the whole thing down."
After the March disaster, an exclusion zone around the plant
was established with tens of thousands of people evacuated
to avoid their being exposed to dangerously high levels of
Swathes of this zone remain polluted, with the clean-up
proceeding slowly amid warnings that some towns could be
uninhabitable for three decades.
While the natural disaster claimed 20,000 lives, the nuclear
emergency has recorded no direct casualties. But it has
badly dented the reputation of a technology on which Japan
previously depended for a third of its electricity.