Thursday, December 15, 2011

NYTimes: Japan May Declare Control of Reactors, Over Serious Doubts

Japanese government? How about an internationationl UN group??? The Japanese govt hasn't exactly been on top of the situation either.


the Tokyo government is expected to declare soon that it has finally regained control of the plant’s overheating reactors.

 many experts fear that the government is declaring victory only to appease growing public anger over the accident, and that it may deflect attention from remaining threats to the reactors’ safety. One of those — a large aftershock to the magnitude 9 earthquake on March 11, which could knock out the jury-rigged new cooling system that the plant’s operator hastily built after the accident — is considered a strong possibility by many seismologists.
They also said the term cold shutdown might give an exaggerated impression of stability to severely damaged reactors with fuel cores that have not only melted down, but melted through the inner containment vessels and bored into the floor of their concrete outer containment structures.
experts say the term is usually reserved for healthy reactors, to indicate that they are safe enough that their containment vessels can be opened up and their fuel rods taken out. But they warn it may take far longer than even the government’s projected three years to begin cleaning up the melted fuel in Fukushima Daiichi’s damaged reactors. This has led some experts to say that proclaiming a cold shutdown may actually be deceptive, suggesting the Fukushima plant is closer to getting cleaned up than it actually is.
“Claiming a cold shutdown does not have much meaning for damaged reactors like those at Fukushima Daiichi,” said Noboru Nakao, a nuclear engineering consultant atInternational Access Corporation.
In fact, experts point out, damaged fuel cores have yet to be removed from plants that suffered meltdowns decades ago. In the case of Chernobyl, Soviet officials simply entombed the damaged reactor in a concrete sarcophagus after the explosion there in 1986. 

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