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Power Japan

Fukushima Nuclear Plant Cleanup May Take More Than 40 Years 218

Posted by Soulskill
from the public-to-forget-about-it-within-40-months dept.
mdsolar writes "'A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission the Fukushima power plant and urged Tepco to improve stability at the facility. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the nuclear plant is so complex that it is impossible to predict how long the cleanup may last.' Meanwhile, Gregory B. Jaczko, former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said that all 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology."
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Fukushima Nuclear Plant Cleanup May Take More Than 40 Years

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  • by hawguy (1600213) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @07:43PM (#43531245)

    Any large industrial accident can take decades to clean up. More than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez [wikipedia.org] accident, there are still lingering effects. There are many Superfund toxic waste [wikipedia.org] sites that have been on the Superfund list for 30 years (the list was started 30 years ago or many would have listed longer)

  • by Tailhook (98486) on Tuesday April 23, 2013 @08:34PM (#43531701)

    Jaczko isn't credible. He is a head case that drove his colleagues, including his fellow Obama appointees, to publically and unanimously condemn his tenure as NRC chairman while seated right next to him during congressional testimony. They forced him out because they'd had enough of his shit.

    So now he is going to be a professional anti-nuke gadfly. Last week good 'ol Senator Harry Reid resurrected the head case [depletedcranium.com] and put him on the NNSA board so he can make that group dysfunctional and say scary things about the stockpile. Now that he's out of the shadows he's taking more shots as nuclear energy as well.

    If you read the linked story you'll eventually learn what, specifically, his problem is with contemporary operating reactors; they are large and have enough residual heat to damage fuel after shutdown. The notion that our power reactors are too large is not new. It has been well understood since the beginning of nuclear energy production. Jaczko is talking about it because that's his job now; use the credibility of his "Former Chairman of the NRC" moniker to make headlines by saying scary things about nukes.

    Incidentally this discussion raises the question; how large can a reactor be without risking fuel damage? The answer is about 60 MW thermal for traditional PWR light water designs. Common power reactors are 2000 MW thermal.

    BTW, we aren't going to do anything about any of this. We're not replacing the reactors, or coal or gas or building out green energy [wind-watch.org] or anything else. We're a balkanized welfare state nation occupied with feathering our environmental nest while evacuating our industrial base to Asia. The power system you have now will be approximately the power system running when you die. Maybe a reactor will melt and we'll replace our nukes with more gas consumption. That's about as much as you can expect.

  • by mbkennel (97636) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @12:08AM (#43533271)

    A liquid flouride thorium reactor has exceptionally radioactive fission products dissolved in a caustic, very hot liquid. Every nuclear plant also has to be a chemical reprocessing plant of 700 degree radioactive liquids sufficiently dangerous that humans cannot get close to them for decades.

    This system also happens to be very water-soluble, so that a breach and flood similar to Fukushima would be extraordinarily dangerous---most of the waste would have entered the environment instead of a modest fraction.

    Conventional reactors have fission products encased in zirconium steel.

  • by delt0r (999393) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @02:06AM (#43533807)

    They have already been built long ago, and all of the fundamental concepts have been proven.

    Incorrect. There has never been any breeding. Th fuel cycles need breeding and thus a breeding ratio of 1 or better. This has never been done and numerically looks pretty tight. So tight that in situ reprocessing is typically proposed to remove the 233Pa which acts as a neutron poison. This also has never been done or shown to work in any way. These things would be considered a pretty fundamental part of a LFTR.

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @05:13AM (#43534475) Journal

    The whole "being inhabitable for hundreds of thousands of years" means that you have extremely large amounts of something that is stable enough to be safe to handle.

    It depends a lot on the contaminant. Something like tritium is a problem, for example, because it has a relatively short half life, but it will bond to oxygen and form water and if you drink it then it can cause serious problems. Radon gas is also a problem (present in a lot of places with granite) because it is heavier than air and so accumulates in any enclosed space: if you breathe it in then it is quite dangerous.

    There's also the problem that a lot of the byproducts of a nuclear reactor are only mildly radioactive, but highly toxic for other reasons. The low decay rate means that they remain toxic chemicals for a long time. On the other hand, this isn't too different from any other chemical plant if there's an accident.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 24, 2013 @06:22AM (#43534661)

    Which LNG plants are you talking about? Various facilities were damaged, along with non-nuclear electric power plants and oil refineries (Cosmo at Ichihara, Chiba), but which ones were actually wiped out? There is considerable cost involved in cleanup and damage to those facilities, but do you believe it approaches the financial damage from Fukushima?

    The compensation claims alone have forced TEPCO to ask the Japanese government for tens of billions of dollars. That's just for the compensation, not for cleanup, which is going to put the final cost well over $100 billion.

    http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-07/fukushima-137-billion-cost-has-tepco-seeking-more-aid [businessweek.com]

    On top of that, the Fukushima accident led to a shutdown of reactors right across the country: at one point, no reactors were operating, now it's about two, out of fifty. TEPCO has already lost Daiichi (6 reactors, and two that were planned), and will never be permitted to restart Fukushima Daini (which has four reactors. Fukushima prefecture will never have new nuclear power plants.

    So the direct and indirect costs are astronomical. For the most part, they've been passed to the taxpayer (which includes me). There's no comparison with what happened to LNG.

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