As the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) prepares for the most dangerous phase of decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan’s Liberal Democratic party (LDP) is calling for another agency to oversee the process. The party plans to present a proposal to Prime Minister Abe next week that asks for an entity financially independent of TEPCO to handle the delicate task. The decision comes amidst mounting political and public scrutiny of the operator’s performance.
This week, TEPCO released a video detailing how they would go about removing the 1,300 spent fuel assemblies from the Reactor No. 4 building. Experts warn that the smallest mistake could send massive amounts of radiation into the air and ocean. Shunichi Tanaka, the head of the nuclear regulation authority, warns that the endeavor is made even more difficult due to the debris that fell into the reactor’s storage pools during a hydrogen explosion in March 2011. TEPCO plans to use a remote-controlled crane to remove the rods. Initial work to remove the molten fuel from inside the remaining three reactors is not slated until 2020.
Japan’s deputy prime minister, Taro Aso mentioned on Thursday that the government might step in to help cover the costs of the decommission. TEPCO faces a multi-billion dollar bill to compensate evacuees and 30 years of cleanup with a price tag of over 100 billion yen. The operator has been highly criticized for its failure to prevent hundreds of thousands of tons of radioactive water from leaking into the ocean every day.
Via The Guardian
Images via TEPCO