Quantcast

Japan to Recreate Fukushima Meltdown for Analysis

It's been almost three years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, but the Japan Atomic Energy Agency is still trying to figure out what went wrong.

The agency's latest effort will be to recreate the meltdown in a controlled setting in order to analyze the event and better prepare for future incidents. 

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, the experiment will include melting a miniature version of one of the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant's 4.5-meter rods inside a stainless-steel capsule. Neutrons emitted by fuel surrounding the capsule will spur nuclear fission in the small fuel rod, which will start melting after its temperature reaches 2,000 degrees Celsius.

The nuclear fission reaction should provide insight into the melted fuel that remains inside the three crippled Fukushima reactors. Removing the fuel from the reactors is the biggest challenge in the ongoing cleanup and further dismantling of the plant.

Removing fuel from from reactors remains the biggest challenge in cleaning up the three-year-old Fukushima mess. Photo credit: Newsarcade.org

“We’d like to find out what phenomena occurred in the accident and use the data to work out responses in the event of another nuclear power plant accident,” an unnamed official from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency told the Japanese publication.

"We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future."

The study will take place some time in March at the Nuclear Safety Research Reactor in Tokai of Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Nos. 1 through 3 reactors at the Fukushima plant each contained 25,000 to 35,000 fuel rods when the earthquake hit, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun. They may have began melting as soon as four hours after the earthquake.

The rods at the plant are believed to contain 14,000 times as much radioactive cesium as was released at the bombing of Hiroshima. People like grassroots, nuclear-free campaign leader Harvey Wasserman say moving 400 tons of radioactive rods from a fuel pool in one of the damaged units could end in a global catastrophe.

Tuna contaminated with radiation from Fukushima have been caught off the California coast, making some wonder how safe it is to eat fish. Additionally, 70-plus U.S. Navy sailors reported radiation sickness after responding to the disaster and have filed a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant.

“Results of the experiment will help us better predict the effectiveness of measures to deal with a nuclear accident, such as an emergency injection of water into a reactor,” the agency official said.

“There are no safety problems with the experiment itself.”

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR page for more related news on this topic.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The 16-year-old Swede Greta Thunberg speaks during her protest action for more climate protection with a reporter. Steffen Trumpf / picture alliance / Getty Images

By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

It's been 30 years since Bill McKibben rang the warning bells about the threat of man-made climate change — first in a piece in The New Yorker, and then in his book, The End of Nature.

Read More Show Less
At the International Motor Show (IAA), climate protestors are calling for a change in transportation politics. © Kevin McElvaney / Greenpeace

Thousands of protestors marched in front of Frankfurt's International Motor Show (IAA) on Saturday to show their disgust with the auto industry's role in the climate crisis. The protestors demanded an end to combustion engines and a shift to more environmentally friendly emissions-free vehicles, as Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Setting and testing the line protections for Siemens SF6 gas insulated switchgear in 2007. Xaf / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0

Electricity from renewable sources is growing exponentially as the technology allows for cheaper and more efficient energy generation, but there is a dark side that has the industry polluting the most powerful greenhouse gas known to humanity, as the BBC reported.

Read More Show Less
Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Elizabeth Streit, MS, RDN, LD

Sweet and regular potatoes are both tuberous root vegetables, but they differ in appearance and taste.

They come from separate plant families, offer different nutrients, and affect your blood sugar differently.

Read More Show Less
Scientists in Saskatchewan found that consuming small amounts of neonicotinoids led white-crowned sparrows to lose significant amounts of weight and delay migration, threatening their ability to reproduce. Jen Goellnitz / Flickr

By Julia Conley

In addition to devastating effects on bee populations and the pollination needed to feed humans and other species, widely-used pesticides chemically related to nicotine may be deadly to birds and linked to some species' declines, according to a new study.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government is set to unveil a package of measures on Friday, Sept. 20, to ensure that the country cuts its greenhouse gas emissions 55% by 2030, compared with the 1990 levels.

Read More Show Less
Assorted plastic bottles. mali maeder / Pexels

California ended its 2019 legislative session Saturday without passing two bills that would have led the nation in tackling plastic pollution, The Mercury News reported.

Read More Show Less
People carry children on a flooded street in Almoradi, Spain on Sept. 13. JOSE JORDAN / AFP / Getty Images

Record rainfall and flooding in southeastern Spain killed six people as of Saturday, The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less