Is Fukushima Really 'Under Control?'

Original Text from Zukunashi no Hiyamizu's Blog :http://inventsolitude.sblo.jp/article/98910744.html

Fumikazu Nishitani interviews Prof. Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute

Nishitani: NHK, in April, aired documentaries about the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi. More than three years after the accident, they finally produced programs on the difficulty of decommissioning and expressed that there weren't going to be enough workers. This is nothing new, is it?

Koide: Of course. In Chernobyl, they used 600,000 to 800,000 workers... they were soldiers, former soldiers, workers, and even some prisoners, I heard. That's how they tried to control the accident. In Chernobyl, only one reactor broke. In Fukushima, four broke at the same time and currently the accident is still going on. Of course they need many workers... many experienced workers. But the number of experienced workers is limited from the beginning, and they are forced to be out of the plant after reaching the radiation exposure limit.

Japanese law sets the limit at 100 milisieverst per five years, or 20 milisievert per one year. Many well-experienced workers already reached that limit and they can't work at the site any more. Some get 100 milisievert in one year, so those workers can't go back to the site for five years. This means practically they can't work. 

N: Another problem is the low payment for the workers. [The NHK program] said [Fukushima Daiichi] workers switch to decontamination work or they quit. 

K: TEPCO pays extra, but as the jobs are handed out through layers of labor brokers, each layer taking a piece of the payments. In the end the extra money won't reach the actual workers.

N: In Chernobyl, they required 2,000 workers per day. Ukraine paid 150% of the normal rate, so they got three times more applicants than they needed. Japan is not handling this well. 

K: Not at all. TEPCO doesn't have good control of the situation any more. They just ask other companies to gather workers. Those companies ask the next tier companies and so on. They will not be able to collect enough workers. 

N: The problem is that the Japanese government didn't take over the job from TEPCO. TEPCO should have been dissolved, I think. 

K: I do think so. The damage is far more than TEPCO could have handled even if they went through several bankruptcies. They should dissolve TEPCO to clearly show the country's plan to take control of the situation, then the country has to take the responsibility. 

N: They didn't do that so as not to upset their stockholders--banks, I think.

K: I agree. Big banks are TEPCO's biggest stockholders. I think it's the Japanese government's policy to not to damage those big banks. 

N: Since those politicians receive a lagre amount of donations from those big banks and TEPCO.

K: Right.

N: NHK indicated 2,000,000,000,000 yen will be needed for decommissioning. Is it enough?

K: No way. TEPCO's plan requires 40 years for the decommissioning process. I don't think that's enough at all. There will be many, many difficult tasks that they have to face. Two trillion yen is not enough at all.

N: Do you think the Japanese government should take over the process even now? Isn't it too late?

K: Yes. They should take over as soon as possible.


Jiro Ishimaru interviews Prof. Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute

Ishimaru: TEPCO announced the launch of 'HAIRO [Decommissioning] Company', its new company to deal with decommissioning. What is your take on this?

Koide: That's a dirty strategy. TEPCO, one of the leading companies in Japan, has been operating Fukushima Daiichi saying its nuclear plants are absolutely safe. Then Fukushima Daiichi had an accident. So, the right thing to do is for TEPCO to take full responsibility for it. Even if TEPCO tries to compensate for the damage, the amount of damage exceeds what TEPCO could offer by going bankrupt many times over. Instead, TEPCO has the Japanese government pay for the damage, while TEPCO itself is trying to survive. Now it created 'HAIRO Company' and let it take full responsibility. At the same time TEPCO continues its profitable operation. That is totally wrong. 

I: On the other hand, they say by detaching the decommissioning section from TEPCO, the new company can focus on its mission. Also, it can make the decision process shorter and quicker, so they can deal with various troubles as they rise. Is it effective?

K: TEPCO should make a team within and find a way for it to act swiftly. Making a new company is meaningless. To me, it sounds like a dirty way to escape from the responsibility.

I: About the current progress of decommissioning ...

K: The first thing they need to do is to move all the used fuel rods to less dangerous places from all the Used Fuel Pools that's located at each reactor. In November 2013, they started with Reactor #4 because it was the most accessible pool, and the most dangerous. The floor that housed the Used Fuel Pool in Reactor #4 was hugely damaged and it has been feared that the pool might collapse in any time. This is a very dangerous job. Any scale of accident is possible. But they have to do it. I hope they can complete the job without making the workers get so much radiation. 

I: As of May 7, they say they moved 814 rods out of 1533 from the UFP. Is this reasonable?

K: Yes. They moved about half the rods in about half a year. TEPCO hopes they move all the rods [from Reactor 4] this year. If everything goes well, they probably can complete this task by December. I look at TEPCO as a criminal, but I really want to wish them well about this work. 

I: On the other hand, they don't even know where the melted fuel is. What is the current situation of the melted fuel?

K: Nothing has been done. I don't think the melted fuel is sitting in one piece as TEPCO and the government imagine. Probably, many pieces are scattered everywhere in the reactor vessel. For example, there are pieces stuck to the wall, I think. If, for example, they somehow can collect 50 pieces of debris they can't collect the other 50; if many workers are forced to be exposed to radiation to do this ineffective job, I think it's better to just contain it like the Chernobyl sarcophagus.

I: It is going to be a long road to decommissioning...

K: The government says it will take 40 years, but that is not going to be enough at all. When they finish, I will have been dead for a long time.

note:小出裕章氏の著述については、翻訳者が同氏から英訳の許諾を得ている。Radio Forumには、「ずくなしの冷や水」から翻訳と掲載の許可を申請中。

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