– Fukushima’s operators at loss but don’t show it (Voice of Russia, May 30, 2011):
The operating company of the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant, “Tokyo Electric Power”, will not be able to liquidate all the consequences of the catastrophe by the end of this year. This was revealed by the company’s high-ranking representative who preferred to remain unnamed.
Earlier, the company announced that it planned to stop the largest leakages of radiation by July and to lower the temperature in the three reactors which suffered most down to 99º Celsius in another half a year. This would have allowed bringing them into the state of so-called “cold stop”.
Meanwhile, the task turned out to be more difficult than it had seemed at first. It turned out that in all these tree reactors, the nuclear fuel had melted because of lack of refrigeration. It burnt through the reactors’ body frames and damaged their outer shells. This means that the system is no longer leak-tight – if one tries to put them out with water, it will pour out.
In an interview to the Voice of Russia, an expert in nuclear and radiation security Maxim Shingarkin commented on the situation in Fukushima:
“In fact, this statement came with a big delay. The operating company deliberately concealed this information. The explanation is simple – the company is afraid that any checking by competent experts would reveal its inability to save the situation. Only recently, foreign experts founded a consultative body for the clean-up of the accident’s consequences. Moreover, the company is concealing the information about the amount of pollution of the environment.”
However, “Tokyo Electric Power” still pretends that it knows quite well how to clean-up after the accident. It plans to build water-purifying units at the Fukushima plant, which will cost $ 650 mln. But the cost can turn out to be even higher, because the water has been infected with radiation several times and may need a more complicated purifying.
Moreover, this system of circulation may not withstand the summer typhoons. The roofs of three energy blocks were destroyed by explosions on March 11. The operating company suggests covering the holes in the roofs with some special polyethylene web, but the plant’s administrators doubt that this will be effective. Besides, summer showers can erode the ground, which, in its turn, can increase the onslaught of water into the plant’s lower premises. Showers have already increased the level of the water in one of the reactors by 20 cm.
In the other power blocks, the situation is also disturbing. About 85 tons of radioactive water have already accumulated there, and it is pouring out of the territory of the power plant. Not all the area around the plant has yet been covered with special synthetic resin which stops the spreading of radioactive dust.
630 monitoring stations in Russia’s Far East, situated both on land and on ships, are intensively watching the radiation situation. Fortunately, they haven’t yet revealed any increase of radiation which can be dangerous for people. The stations have already switched back to the normal mode of work, checking the radiation level once in 24 hours, not twice as they had done recently.
Still, it seems that the world has not yet recovered from the shock caused by the Japanese tragedy. Recently, Germany’s government decided to stop exploiting all the country’s nuclear power plants by 2022. This is still the first country to take such a decision.