Monday, March 14, 2016

JAPAN - Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant 2016

"An exclusive look at the world’s largest-ever nuclear cleanup" PBS NewsHour 3/11/2016


SUMMARY:  Five years ago, an epic tsunami off the coast of Japan triggered a triple-reactor nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.  Ever since then, 7,000 workers have been laboring round-the-clock on a massive, and unprecedented, cleanup effort.  Science correspondent Miles O’Brien takes an exclusive look at ground zero of the greatest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

MILES O’BRIEN (NewsHour):  Fukushima Daiichi was one of the largest nuclear power plants in the world.  Today, it is a busy, crowded, dangerous deconstruction site.

My invitation to see it up close was unique.

What next?  Does three have a lot to…

But even with special permission, getting inside is not easy by design.  Radioactive contamination levels have gone down, but not nearly enough to dispense with the Tyvek suits, three layers of socks and gloves and full face respirators.

It’s like being an astronaut on a space walk.  Here, 7,000 workers are doing a job for which there is no playbook.

NAOHIRO MASUDA, TEPCO (through interpreter):  What makes this so difficult is the lack of experience.  Nobody in the world has done this before.

MILES O’BRIEN:  Naohiro Masuda is the chief decommissioning officer for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO.

NAOHIRO MASUDA (through interpreter):  We still need to decide what we’re even going to do.  For that, we need to rely on the knowledge of people all around the world.

MILES O’BRIEN:  He relies heavily on this man.

LAKE BARRETT, TEPCO Advisor:  For them to come out and to publicly say “We need help” is different for them.

MILES O’BRIEN:  Lake Barrett is one of a very select group who has some experience with a job like this.  He was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission manager in charge of the decommissioning of Three Mile Island Unit 2 near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  It melted down in 1979.

LAKE BARRETT (adviser):  Fukushima is much more complex.  The damage is much greater.  There’s three melted cores.  But the fundamentals of how you address this and how you recover are similar.

MILES O’BRIEN:  The daily details of this 40-year job are managed here in a radiation-shielded, earthquake-proof emergency operations center.

The superintendent is another TEPCO veteran, Akira Ono, on duty here since June of 2013.

AKIRA ONO, TEPCO (through interpreter):  Ever since the disaster, we have been working here 24 hours a day 365 days a year.  We’re ready to respond to anything that happens.

"The heroes of Fukushima Dai-ichi, but don’t call them that" by Miles O'Brien, PBS NewsHour 3/13/2016

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