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134535The riskiest part yet of the Fukushima clean-up is soon to begin

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    Mar 9, 2014






      Japan and nuclear power

      High alert

      The riskiest part yet of the Fukushima clean-up is soon to begin

      Nov 16th 2013 | FUKUSHIMA | From the print edition


      Source: http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21589912-riskiest-part-yet-fukushima-clean-up-soon-begin-high-alert




      “Only don’t connect

      AMONG the twisted metal and random debris that litter much of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, the fourth reactor looks in relatively good condition. A new structure covers the damage from a hydrogen explosion that blew its roof off days after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the plant in March 2011. But the building is still unstable, and its spent-fuel storage pool highly dangerous. This month Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) will start plucking out over 1,500 radioactive rods from the pool in order to store them more safely. Over the pool a crane waits to start the procedure, and a yellow radiation alarm stands at the ready. Experts call the operation the riskiest stage of the plant’s clean-up so far.

      Removing spent fuel is a routine task at all nuclear facilities, says Akira Ono, the plant’s manager. Engineers will have to take out each fuel assembly one by one without mishap, and overcome the risks of fire, earthquake and the pool boiling dry. The fuel rods can ignite if they lose coolant, or explode if they collide.”






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