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Japan Power

Fukushima Finally Reaches Cold Shutdown 201

Posted by Soulskill
from the super-powers-no-longer-for-sale dept.
mvdwege writes "The BBC reports that the reactors at Fukushima have reached cold shutdown, meaning they no longer need active cooling to stay at safe temperatures. Plans can now be made to start the cleanup of the site. Unfortunately, TEPCO has also admitted not all problems were out in the open until now; an estimated 45 cubic meters of contaminated water have leaked out of cracks in the foundation of a treatment plant."
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Fukushima Finally Reaches Cold Shutdown

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  • by qbast (1265706) on Friday December 16, 2011 @10:59AM (#38397438)
    Sky did not fall, Japan is not irradiated wasteland, Fallout is still just a game.
    • And worst of all, no lazer-breathing super monsters.

      • by AbrasiveCat (999190) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:10AM (#38397590)
        Those super monsters take time to grow. Just give them time.
      • by bareman (60518)

        Maybe we can at least haz cats-with-thumbz?

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6CcxJQq1x8 [youtube.com]

      • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:52AM (#38398230) Homepage Journal

        And worst of all, no lazer-breathing super monsters.

        About 20 years ago I was in Baltimore, MD, for a family member's memorial service. A walk-through photo exhibit of immediate and after effects of Chernobyl were on display - radiation illness, mutated offspring - human and animal. Nothing can remove that scar from my mine. I try to laugh about things like this, but it's really very difficult. I hope this is the last ever nuclear emergency in the world, but I doubt it will be.

        • by khallow (566160)

          A walk-through photo exhibit of immediate and after effects of Chernobyl were on display - radiation illness, mutated offspring - human and animal. Nothing can remove that scar from my mine.

          You do realize that a similarly horrific exhibit could be made even in the absence of Chernobyl? Birth defects and the like happen. We even see to a limited extent radiation illness (as sunburn).

        • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday December 16, 2011 @02:24PM (#38400764)

          Nothing can remove that scar from my mine. I try to laugh about things like this, but it's really very difficult. I hope this is the last ever nuclear emergency in the world, but I doubt it will be.

          I dont think anyone wants to belittle how terrible cancer or radiation poisoning are, but when you take a dose of perspective and remember that the earthquake+tsunami (one of the most powerful events in recorded history as quakes go) killed some 16,000 people, injured another 6,000, and a further 4,000 are still unaccounted for, the Fukushima event becomes a mere blip. A plant was destroyed (as were another 125,000 buildings), the background radiation increased a bit, and some people may have gotten "slightly worrying" doses of radiation that will likely have no long term effects.

          The big travesty about the whole thing was that the immediate international response by the media seemed more focused on "OHNOES WHAT ABOUT US? RADIATION IS COMING" and "hah, see, nuclear IS bad" rather than on focusing on the scale of the devastation caused by the tsunami and the relief efforts. I think I saw a few videos of the wave, and heard one or two stories on the recovery (almost ALL linked in some way with the Fukushima issue), compared with the months of debate on NPR about how we shouldnt have nuclear in our country (conservative media was not innocent in all of this either).

          Its enough to make anyone feel bitter and cynical about our media.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126)

            It isn't so much the amount of radiation people in Japan are worried about, it is the effect on the surrounding area and those living there, and the fact that it was a wake-up call regarding nuclear safety in earthquakes.

            Fukushima and the majority of reactors in Japan are only designed to withstand magnitude 7.5 quakes. Fortunately most of them seem to be okay, although tests are still being run. The thing is that the epicentre of the quake was out at sea so by the time it reached land it was considerably l

            • Hydro, geothermal, gas, solar thermal and so forth just don't have the capability to cause that much disruption, the worst possible accident being a large explosion and the resulting smoke and ash from the fire.

              No, if a dam fails catastrophically, the flood downstream can be extremely destructive. And even while the dam is operational, it can have bad effects on the local environment (eg interfering with wildlife, changing the water table, harming agriculture, causing increased soil salinity, etc.).

              • by AmiMoJo (196126)

                Trying to attribute deaths from dam failure to hydro is like trying to blame your car stereo for the wheels falling off. The two are unrelated.

                Also, hydro is not limited to dams.

    • What a relief! I wonder when they'll start moving people back into Fukushima Prefecture. I can't wait to sink my teeth into some Fukushima vegetables and I know you feel the same way.

      When do you suppose that 12 mile radius exclusion zone will be lifted? This decade or next?

      Now that we've decided that the maximum radiation dosage for a Japanese child is the same as an American nuclear worker, it's only a matter of time before they play in the shadow of Fukushima again!

      And let's not forget how much better Tok

      • by KarolisP (1538799) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:29AM (#38397876)
        thank you, I guess, for pointing out that earthquakes and tsunamis do indeed suck and destroy stuff. People will just get compensations and move on to somewhere else. There were definately WORSE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster) disasters than this and It is worth taking for what it is. Also there are areas that are intentionaly and knowingly made into deserts/toxic lakes or whatever, and it's no disaster at all... so... 12 miles radius is not that big of a chunk to ward off and let smolder in ruins, wouldn't be the biggest or out of proportion dead-zone of the world.
        • by cusco (717999)
          The Indian government never created an exclusion zone around the Bhopal plant, people are still living all the way up next to the fence even though the ground is irrevocably contaminated.
        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          People will just get compensations and move on to somewhere else. There were definately WORSE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhopal_disaster) disasters than this

          So your argument is that money will make up for people having their lives wrecked and that other people in third world countries are suffering worse so they shouldn't complain?

          Take my advice and don't run for public office. Or go there and tell that to them, unless you can run pretty fast.

      • Now that we've decided that the maximum radiation dosage for a Japanese child is the same as an American nuclear worker, it's only a matter of time before they play in the shadow of Fukushima again!

        Last I checked, US nuclear workers had lower safe limits than US children do, so that's not as much problem as you might think.

        • Last I checked, US nuclear workers had lower safe limits than US children do, so that's not as much problem as you might think.

          It also highlights how much ignorance (or dishonesty, but I try to be an optimist) and fearmongering there is around this whole topic. It makes most of the discussions on Fukushima a waste of time.

      • by eepok (545733) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:52AM (#38398218) Homepage

        This post is more inciteful than insightful.

        (1) A 12-mile radius is NOTHING compared to all the intentional disaster areas (nuclear *weapon* testing underground, on ground, and over water) or all the major landfills or holes in the ozone. Those are the damages we "accept" as part of our way of life. Fukushima's failure was not a guaranteed result of running the plant, but a RISK that only existed due genuine natural cataclysm that was fought with decades old technology (when much better is available now). Ya, I'd call that a win. By the way, how do you think an oil refinery or a coal mine would have fared in that same situation?

        (2) The maximum *allowed* radiation dose for an American nuclear worker is nothing to sneeze at when compared to a school bus driver, but then again, it's not deadly or else it wouldn't be allowed. People wouldn't work at nuclear power plants if they had good reason to believe that they would develop various cancers as a direct result. It's a heightened risk (one cannot deny that, mathematically), but it's by no means a death sentence nor does it guarantee a lesser quality of life.

        (3) 30% less electricity for any metropolitan area can be spell doom. But it didn't in Japan. For the Japanese, it's an opportunity to innovate. To remodel. To rethink ways. I wouldn't be surprised if more low-power-consumption tech comes out of Japan due to this disaster and the world as a whole benefits.

        Summary: *ALL* non-region-specific (solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric) power systems can fail due to cataclysm. Some fail before the stations even get the fuel (oil spills, coal mine collapses). None but nuclear have so many safe guards, even at the 1960s tech level, that can respond to such a major disaster with so little loss of life.

        • by bit trollent (824666) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:27PM (#38398774) Homepage

          1) A 12 mile radius exclusion zone (& larger radius which people will avoid) is huge in a small country like Japan. Do you really think that Japanese people have chosen to have among the highest population density in the world even though they have a bunch of unused land?

          When we consider how common Fukushima's reactor design is, and how reluctant power companies are to invest in new reactors, despite proven safety problems with their design, a disaster like this seems almost inevitable.

          2) American nuclear workers carry dosimeters and are closely monitored. Children operate in a very different environment. Children are more susceptible to problems than adults, since they are still developing. I doubt that a nuclear plant would allow a worker to bring their child with them as they are exposed to radiation.

          3) The loss of so much electricity in the Tokyo area has caused shortages in many components crucial to Japanese and global commerce. There is nothing innovative about turning off the air conditioning in an unplanned 30% loss of power. There is something deeply honorable about it though.

          Summary: Large scale electric generation will always have drawbacks, but it's foolish to ignore their potential for destruction. As far as I know, the only part of Japan that 6 months after the Tsunami is uninhabitable by humans surrounds Fukushima.

          I don't oppose nuclear power, but when the risks are ignored or downplayed (like in your post and in TEPCO's policies) a nuclear disaster is inevitable. And when people notice that you've been downplaying the risks, their unlikely to trust the industry to build new reactors, even though they improve safety.

          • There is nothing innovative about turning off the air conditioning in an unplanned 30% loss of power. There is something deeply honorable about it though.

            Somewhat of an overstatement, no? According to weather sites Tokyo summers are cooler than ours and most people here don't even own an AC.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          Bikini Atoll still has warning bouys 100 miles out all the way around it.

        • by AmiMoJo (196126)

          30% less electricity for any metropolitan area can be spell doom. But it didn't in Japan.

          I agree, and in fact I was there at the time and the disruption wasn't that bad. I will make a correction though: Japan used to get 20% of its energy from nuclear, not 30%. At the moment 80% of reactors are offline but most of the restrictions on energy use have been lifted, so a 16% cut was tolerable.

          Japan has enough renewable resources to replace nuclear entirely, but until recently there was not enough investment. Companies favoured technology they could export, but now that is changing.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:43PM (#38399074)

        1. The exclusion zone will be mostly lifted shortly (weeks to months). Of course, heavier contamination will remain offlimits due to abundance of caution (people live in the world where "natural" radiation levels are much higher than anywhere except next to melted reactor buildings, yet they are not "excluded" because the radiation levels of 50-300mSv/yr are "natural" (radium, uranium, etc.)). Contamination is mostly in a narrow streak from Fukushima going north west.

        2. Food is monitored. And even if you eat the most contaminated thing you can find illegally, you'll still be fine unless you start eating it for next couple of years. Finally, it is simple (no pun intended!) to measure amount of cesium you have in your body. Simplest is measuring amount of cesium in your pee ;)

        3. Tokyo does NOT have 30% less electricity. Japan is burning massive amounts of oil, gas and coal emitting a lot of CO2 and heavy metals and spending $38-$40 BILLION EXTRA on fuel PER YEAR so there are no shortages. All the fossil fuel plants that were offline because of nuclear are back online polluting. So only 2-3 years of non-nuclear fuel costs japan the same as compensation for their worst nuclear incident in last 65 years. (estimated compensation costs for Fukushima are up to $100-$110 billion).

        Yes, I do realize you wanted to be sarcastic in your statements.

      • by slb (72208) * on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:43PM (#38399078) Homepage

        What a relief! I wonder when they'll start moving people back into Fukushima Prefecture.

        Fukushima prefecture is 14500 km2 and 2M inhabitants less than 8% of the territory and 3.5% of population have been evacuated.

        I can't wait to sink my teeth into some Fukushima vegetables and I know you feel the same way

        Most of the japanese would be perfectly OK eating food from Fukushima prefecture without fear-mongering idiots scaring a gullible population with occasional radiations level in food lower than one would find in a simple banana or brazil nut.

        When do you suppose that 12 mile radius exclusion zone will be lifted? This decade or next?

        Exclusion will be lifted next year for all areas with less than 20mSv/y of radiations level, that's more 80% of the evacuated area. Also half the radiations are due to Cs-134 with a half-life of 2 years. That mean all zones will be available in less than a decade, including municipalities like Namie or Iitate.

        Now that we've decided that the maximum radiation dosage for a Japanese child is the same as an American nuclear worker, it's only a matter of time before they play in the shadow of Fukushima again!

        There's a big difference between what you are allowed to receive every years during your carreer and a maximum environmental exposure that could hypothetically only happen one year. I'm sure the inhabitants of Ramsar who live with a natural radioactivity level of more than 100mSv/y would be laughing a lot at this.

        And let's not forget how much better Tokyo is with 30% less electricity.

        Yeah sure I wonder how any other energy production facilities would have fared facing the same earthquake and tsunami. Do you really think the Japanese government will be dumb enough to replace nuclear plants with tenth os thousands of off-shore tsunami-proof windmills ...

        • by sjames (1099)

          Exclusion will be lifted next year for all areas with less than 20mSv/y of radiations level, that's more 80% of the evacuated area.

          Interestingly, were we to apply the same standards, several populated areas in the U.S. would be evacuated in spite of never having a nuclear accident.

    • Fallout is still just a game.

      I am debating myself whether that's a good thing or not.

      • by Talderas (1212466)

        That depends on if you're a vault dweller.

        So many experiments. So it's a good thing that Fallout is still just a game if you're going to be a vault dweller.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Clearly it's 'terrorism' to point out that for the cost of the cleanup alone, one could have built a whole lot of renewable energy. Nuclear doesn't make a whole lot of economic sense once the lifecycle cost is considered.

      • by khallow (566160)
        That cleanup cost is spread out over a lot of energy, namely, the production of nuclear power worldwide over a couple decade period.
      • by tom17 (659054) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:54AM (#38398262) Homepage

        Sure, the current class of low efficiency(~5%), high pressure (~150ATM), radioactive steam-bomb, light water reactors don't seem to be making economic sense, especially when spent-fuel disposal and the locked-in fuel-supply-chain are taken into consideration.

        But when you look at technologies like LFTR, then all those problems magically vanish. Sure, there are hurdles such as Thorium mining infrastucture (Which brings its own benefits such as rare-earth elements that we are relying on other countries for) and high temperature (but low pressure) vessels to name but two, but that is what research is for. This needs to get recognised and get funded. It's cleaner (minimal waste), safer (lower pressure, passive cooling systems), efficient (most of the fuel is burned, steam turbines are more efficient) tech!

        • But when you look at technologies like LFTR, then all those problems magically vanish.

          Because no one has built a commercial Thorium reactor so everything about them is magic and fairy dust. Yes, it's nice that a couple of small ones were were built in the 1960's, that doesn't imply that it's a viable technology.

          • by tom17 (659054)

            Which is why research money needs to be spent. They didn't get further than a couple of small ones in the 60's due to political reasons, not technical ones.

      • And obviously, all of that renewable energy would have withstood a 9.0 quake and 40-foot tsunami, right?

    • by thsths (31372)

      Indeed, which probably is a good sign for the safety of the light water reactor type. It sounds like there was a core melt down and a criticality event way beyond what engineers even considered as a plausible scenario, but without a moderator it is bound to be self contained. That is very much unlike the event in Chernobyl, which demonstrated an inherently dangerous (as in explosive) reactor design, handled by an incompetent crew.

      But there are certainly lessons to be learned. If we want to use nuclear en

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      Sky did not fall, Japan is not irradiated wasteland, Fallout is still just a game.

      Yeah. Oh, and mind the sushi, it's got three eyes.

    • by tp1024 (2409684) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:50AM (#38398196)
      In fact, most of the evacuation area (the southern and eastern part) is barely contaminated, it should have long been opened up again. On the other hand, there is an area to the northeast of the plant, outside of the evacuation area, that is contaminated by fallout and should have been declared an evacuation zone. On the whole, a realistic evaluation would yield a much smaller area than the 940 km^2.

      Of course, such subtleties escape the so-called environmentalists. (As does the fact that paving an area of 940km^2 [wikipedia.org] with photovoltaics would yield no more energy than a 3.5GW power plant (ignoring all energy-storage issues) and turn it into something with a striking resemblance to Coruscant [wikipedia.org].)
      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        In fact, most of the evacuation area (the southern and eastern part) is barely contaminated, it should have long been opened up again.

        That simply isn't true. Contamination doesn't spread evenly over an area so you need to check everywhere before allowing people back in. You might be find with the odd spot here or there, but the people who have to live and work there won't be. Since a lot of it is farm land they can't just hope it is fine, especially since Japanese produce has already failed radiation checks in other countries where it was shipped. Soil and food contamination is the worst because it gets the radioactive material inside the

    • Wrong. High radioactivity is spread all over Japan now. The soil is radioactive. Watch this children's playground just outside of Tokyo, nowhere near Fuckupshima. The geiger counter shows 6.4 micro sieverts while the normal background level is in 0.1-0.3 range. You might say that is not a big problem, as it is in the ground only, but the dust particles get spread as the children play, once they breathe them in, they have a problem.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BOIDFh3wPXY [youtube.com]
      • by tp1024 (2409684)
        Which is the spot with the highest value they could find in the whole area. Had they moved the counter just 20cm above the ground at this place, the value would be much lower. That's exactly what television crews do all the time. It is in no way representative of what you receive in real live. Your hand would receive 6.4 micro sieverts per hour, if you put it there. If you put your head at this place with your right ear on the ground, your right ear would receive 6.4 micro sievert and your left ear perhaps
    • "Ra-di-a-tion. Yes, indeed. You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-box do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you. Pernicious nonsense. Everybody could stand a hundred chest X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too. " -- J. Frank Parnell
    • You don't have the right to call anyone shills. Even if you only monitored the mainstream news casually you would have heard that not all information was released and not all information given was truthful.

      I wonder what the cancer rates will be like years from now.

      However, but then nukeish fanboys like you will be long gone while other people suffer.

  • by janeuner (815461) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:18AM (#38397688)

    In units of volume, that is 12,000 US Gallons, or 45,000 liters.

    Also, about ¾ the volume of a typical 40' shipping container.

    • by hipp5 (1635263)
      Or 1/50th of an olympic swimming pool.
      • by janeuner (815461)

        Harder to conceptualize. I assume the presser used cubic meters because 45 of something doesn't sound as bad as 45,000 of something.

        50 one-meter cubes is just as difficult to visualize as 1/50th of a pool. However, most everyone has seen a semi-trailer, and many people actually stood inside one, so it seemed like a good point of reference.

        • A 45 square meters area is quite easy to conceptualize. If you make a pool 2 meters deep, that changes into a 22.5 m2 area.

          Way more usefull a measure than 45000 litters (that I'd convert into 45m3 to understand anyway).

    • by aaarrrgggh (9205)

      The problem is that it leaked, potentially into groundwater, where it will be diluted but still highly toxic.

  • This is absurd (Score:5, Informative)

    by zeigerpuppy (607730) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:21AM (#38397738)
    ...an abuse of the definition of shutdown. Reality check: - 3 melt-throughs - melted cores outside pressure chambers - compromised secondary containments - nuclear fuel and fission products escaping into water and air - corium so radioactive it cannot be approached even by robots - precarious leaning of number 4 spent fuel pool - widespread plutonium, caesium etc. beyond evacuation zone - significant contamination in food - yet to come: increased malignancies and birth defects Does this sound contained to you? Seriously...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BMOC (2478408)

      Containment has almost nothing to do with cold shutdown.

      Cold shutdown is defined as a fissionable material no longer requiring active cooling to remain at a stable temperature. This indicates that whatever fission may still be occurring in the nuclear material (whether it breached containment or not) it is in such small and sporadic amounts as to not be a concern to restart itself and continue melting through containment or into the open air.

      Please back the truck of panic up.

      • by DragonHawk (21256) on Friday December 16, 2011 @06:33PM (#38404334) Homepage Journal

        BMOC: Containment has almost nothing to do with cold shutdown.

        According to TEPCO, it does:

        TEPCO: Definition of "Cold Shutdown Condition": ... Release of radioactive materials from PCV is under control and public radiation exposure by additional release is being significantly held down.

        (Roadmap towards Restoration from the Accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station [tepco.co.jp], 17 Nov 2011, Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, Government-TEPCO Integrated Response Office)

        TEPCO *is* changing the standard definition of "cold shutdown" somewhat. Now, they have *added* a containment requirement, so they're not really loosening any standards. Of course, normally "cold shutdown" doesn't include a containment requirement because normally the reactor vessel isn't breached.

        zeigerpuppy has a point in that "cold shutdown" normally implies a state of normal control. Cold shutdown typically means the reactor is stopped, doesn't need active cooling, and can be safely opened for maintenance. Fuku is still an active disaster site.

        I'm not advocating panic (what's the sense in that?), but fair criticism of TEPCO is, I think, well-deserved.

    • Re:This is absurd (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PNutts (199112) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:09PM (#38398482)

      I agree. They created a new definition to fit this scenario. They are calling it a "cold shutdown condition".

      http://nukespeak.org/2011/12/08/fukushimas-cold-shutdown-condition/ [nukespeak.org]

    • by khallow (566160)
      So we're not supposed to use the appropriate term because bad things happened?

      Does this sound contained to you?

      Yes. I was asked the same thing in early April of last year and my view remains the same. This accident has been contained ever since the beginning of April. Bad consequences can still happen, such as the possibility of increased cases of cancer and birth defects, but the accident isn't generating more future bad consequences now than it was in April.

  • Or at least the suspicion there may be seepage through cracks in the foundation. It was in the news quite a while ago, I guess they just released some numbers now and that's what the article was referring to? It's not the first "spill" either, one of the pools overflowed and some water was released into the ocean.

  • by tp1024 (2409684) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:32AM (#38397920)
    Meanwhile, half a million people are homeless, about twenty thousand are dead. And all everybody cares to talk about is that some nuclear reactors weren't safe enough (through neglect of safety updates during the last three decades) to withstand a tsunami. If you criticize TEPCO for neglecting tsunami protection, why don't you criticize the whole Japanese government for neglecting tsunami protection along all of the coast?
    • by kenboldt (1071456) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:45AM (#38398118) Homepage

      Agreed. It is staggering how many people can't grasp the magnitude of what the plant was put through.

      • by Kizeh (71312)
        Nova aired an NHK look at some of the survivors / victims that were seen on the various cell phone etc. videos right after the tsunami. Turns out, a fair bit of the people who got caught were unaware because they were doing something where they didn't hear the radio, the sirens, and didn't see the locals run for the hills. It would be time to consider other ways of notifying the population, maybe cell-phone based stuff?
      • by tp1024 (2409684) on Friday December 16, 2011 @12:06PM (#38398416)
        Nope.

        My point is that it is staggering how many people don't grasp the magnitude of what JAPAN was put through.

        It is just as staggering how many people don't care about the non-existence of vital, standard safety measures Fukushima Daiichi. Such as a sufficient number of emergency generators distributed over the site to prevent common cause failure. (Instead of having just 13 for 6 reactors, seven of which standing right next to each other along the sea shore with a safety distance of, oh, 25cm or so between each other.) Or catalytic converters to prevent hydrogen from reaching explosive concentrations (which took hours in all cases, as predicted in simulations 30 years ago) and filtered containment vents that can filter out 99.99% of the Cs-137 and 99% of elemental I-131. Most of the rest was contained by the containment, as it should.

        This needs to change, not just in Japan, but everywhere where safety measures are not up to date.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mjr167 (2477430)
          They did the same thing when Katrina hit New Orleans. They knew the sea walls and levees couldn't take that kind of hurricane before Katrina. What did they do after Katrina? Rebuilt to the pre-Katrina standards. There were also people on TV yelling about why was it taking so long to get back into the city, as if 30 feet of water was something you clean up with a wet-dry vac. You will also notice that no one ever talks about what went right. The fact that there is a nuclear power plant in New Orleans t
  • by islisis (589694) on Friday December 16, 2011 @11:53AM (#38398232) Homepage

    hope some people can finally take a breather, it's only been... 9 months...

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday December 16, 2011 @01:05PM (#38399410) Homepage

    They had to redefine "cold shutdown" to get there. Normally, cold shutdown of a reactor means temperature is below boiling and pressure is at 1 atmosphere. It's then possible to take the lid off the reactor and replace fuel rods.

    Humans still can't enter the containment, and probably won't be able to do so for decades, if not centuries. So cleanup is going to have to be a robot job. Some kind of machinery is going to have to go in there and take the core apart, transferring each bit into a separate storage container.

    Strangely, Japan seems to be behind the US in mobile robots for doing heavy work. They had to send to the US for iRobot units just to look around inside the containment, and for remote-controlled concrete pumping trucks to pour in water.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      Strangely, Japan seems to be behind the US in mobile robots for doing heavy work.

      I'm fairly certain this has military roots, with some added help from the massive US university system.

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