ABC Australia, May 24, 2016 (emphasis added): [ABC's Mark Willacy] has been invited on a tour of [Fukushima Daiichi]… What Willacy discovers is truly unsettling… retrieving hundreds of tonnes of melted nuclear fuel turns out to be far greater than previously thought.
ABC Australia transcript excerpts, May 24, 2016:
- Willacy: Tonight we go on a journey into the heart of this ongoing crisis… and we reveal the frightening enormity of the clean-up… and how dangerous it still is.
- Gregory Jaczko, former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission: This really is unchartered territory. Nobody really knows where the fuel is… There’s no playbook – they’re making this up as they go along.
- Willacy: The man in charge of decontaminating and decommissioning the Fukushima plant, Naohiro Masuda. Has anything like this ever been attempted before?
- Masuda: There has never been an accident at a nuclear plant like the one at Fukushima where three reactors had meltdowns. We are currently working on a timetable to decommission the reactors over the next 30 to 40 years.
- Naoto Kan, Former Prime Minister: I think it will take longer… This is a major accident, which has never happened anywhere in the world… 40 years is an optimistic view.
- Willacy: We are heading to the buildings housing the melted reactors… Tepco is worried about possible nuclear terrorism, and won’t allow us to film certain security sites.
- Masuda: This is a job we’ve never done and there is no textbook.
- Willacy: [At Reactor 3 there was an] explosion right after the nuclear fuel melted… What happened inside [Reactor 2] no-one really knows… [Reactor 1] is where probably the worst meltdown occurred. They don’t know where the nuclear fuel is.
- Masuda: We haven’t actually seen where the melted fuel fell, so it’s important to find it as soon as possible.
- Willacy: For the first time, Foreign Correspondent can reveal just how vast the amount of melted nuclear fuel is, the three molten blobs that lie somewhere deep within each of these buildings.
- Masuda: It’s estimated that 200 tonnes of debris lies within each unit… 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be here.
- Willacy: The most daunting task, one the nuclear industry has never faced, is getting the melted fuel out. TEPCO admits the technology it needs hasn’t been invented.
- Jaczko: It may be possible that we’re never able to remove the fuel. You may just wind up having to leave it there and somehow entomb it as it is. I mean that’s certainly a possibility. There is no playbook, they’re making this up as they go along.
- Kan: If all the reactors had had a meltdown, there was a risk that half or all of Japan could have been destroyed… the accident took us to the brink of destruction.
- Jaczko: You have to now accept that in all nuclear power plants… there’s a chance you can have this kind of a very catastrophic accident… that’s the reality of nuclear power.
ABC Australia, May 24, 2016: Fukushima clean-up chief still hunting for 600 tonnes of melted radioactive fuel… [TEPCO] has revealed that 600 tonnes of reactor fuel melted during the disaster, and that the exact location of the highly radioactive blobs remains a mystery… [C]hief of decommissioning at Fukushima, Naohiro Masuda, said the company hoped to… begin removing it from 2021… “But unfortunately, we don’t know exactly where (the fuel) is” [said Masuda]. [Gregory Jaczko, Chairman of the US NRC] at the time of the meltdowns at Fukushima doubts the fuel can be retrieved… “Nobody really knows where the fuel is… It may be possible that we’re never able to remove the fuel. You may just have to wind up leaving it there and somehow entomb it as it is.”… For the first time, TEPCO has revealed just how much of the mostly uranium fuel melted down… [Masuda said] “about 600 tonnes of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be there.”
RT, May 24, 2016: 600 tons of melted radioactive Fukushima fuel still not found, clean-up chief reveals… [The fuel] burnt through the respective reactor pressure vessels, concentrating somewhere on the lower levels of the station… fuel from Reactor 1 poured out completely… the exact location of the highly radioactive “runaway” fuel remains mystery for TEPCO. The absolutely uncontrollable fission of the melted nuclear fuel assemblies continue somewhere under the remains of the station… [TEPCO's] plan for Fukushima nuclear power plant implies a 30-40 year period… Yet experts doubt the present state of technology is sufficient to deal with the unprecedented technical task.
Published: June 2nd, 2016 at 1:18 am ET