Japan Looks To Nagasaki Atom Bomb Maker For Lessons On Fukushima Cleanup


Japan looks to Nagasaki atom bomb maker for lessons on Fukushima cleanup (RT, Aug 17, 2013):

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator dealing with the containment of radioactive waste at Fukushima nuclear power plant, has sought the expertise of the same US company that produced plutonium for the atom bomb dropped on Nagasaki in World War II.

Hanford Engineer Works produced the 20 pounds of plutonium used for the atomic bomb “Fat Man” which was unleashed on the Japanese city of Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. The company has had decades of experience treating millions of gallons of radioactive waste, The Japan Daily Press reported.

In the two years following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami which led to several meltdowns at the Fukushima Daichii nuclear power plant, Tokyo Nuclear Power Co. (TEPCO) has struggled to deal with the waste water produced by the decommissioning of the molten-down reactors.

Now, TEPCO has dispatched its engineers to Hanford – located in the US state of Washington – to try to learn from the company’s operations. The business oversees a 586 square mile nuclear waste facility located 200 miles southeast of Seattle.

At Hanford’s site, engineers are working to decommission nine nuclear reactors that were in operation from 1944 to 1987, carrying out weapons production. Its laboratories and plutonium facilities were integral to the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bomb for the US.

“The United States has vast experience in nuclear technology with their military activity, including decontaminating soil and managing river contamination,” said Masumi Ishikawa, general manager of TEPCO’s radioactive waste management, to The Japanese Daily Press. “There’s a lot we can learn from them.”

Hanford has indeed had to deal with a sizeable amount of nuclear waste, as the Washington site generated 56 million gallons – enough to fill an American football field.

TEPCO is now working on a deal with both Hanford and the Department of Energy to assist in the decommissioning process at Fukushima, which Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe admitted last week was beyond TEPCO’s ability to deal with alone.

“We identified seven areas of US expertise that can be tapped,” said Ishikawa. “That includes decommissioning, nuclear waste disposal, removal of melted fuel, and restoration of surrounding areas.”

Japan’s venturing abroad for help in dealing with the Fukushima nuclear disaster seems to underscore the increasingly dire situation at the site. Earlier in August, the country’s nuclear watchdog – the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) – called the radioactive water leakage at the site an “emergency.”

TEPCO admitted last month that radioactive groundwater had breached underground barriers created to hold nuclear waste and was leaking into the Pacific Ocean at a rate of 300 tons every day.

The Prime Minister’s indication that TEPCO was incapable of dealing with the scope of the situation at Fukushima could well be interpreted as an understatement. The NRA currently believes that the amount of contamination at the site is five times TEPCO’s own limit.

The cost of the gargantuan cleanup effort at Fukushima is currently at US$11 billion over the course of 40 years, and seems likely to continue edging upwards. However, there is some hope that international cooperation with Hanford could mitigate additional cost increases. The company says it currently has a method of sealing off reactors using concrete cocooning that could reduce the estimated costs.

Hanford has had its own share of containment challenges at its Washington state site. The company had to deal with six underground tanks leaking radioactive waste, which are among 177 other tanks buried at the facility. The US Department of Energy has spent more than $16 billion since 1989 to clean up Hanford.

1 thought on “Japan Looks To Nagasaki Atom Bomb Maker For Lessons On Fukushima Cleanup”

  1. First, how do they measure how many tons of water are flowing into the Pacific each day? They sure don’t have people close by monitoring……..the entire area is totally radioactive and deadly to life.
    This is the horror I don’t understand. This is going to kill millions, perhaps the entire world population, and nothing is being said or done. They are going to Washington state to talk to the idiots that started the nuclear nightmare in 1945…….what the hell good is that? They don’t know how to stop it any more than I do.
    They won’t cover it, they won’t expose it, they won’t open the doors to ask people around the world to work on this growing problem that will destroy life as we know it. Instead, they expect their fairy god mother to save them……like foolish children.
    If I were in charge, I would be offering lots of money to any scientist or engineer anywhere in the world who might help negate this problem. There might be some smart people somewhere with good ideas………..
    Thanks again for staying on this essential story. I live on the west coast of the US, plutonium was found in the milk here in CA by the end of April of 2011………about six weeks after the 3/11/11 disaster.
    Our leaders dealt with the problem by shutting down the radiation meters and continue to raise the safety level of radiation……….It was on this site where you showed them shutting them down, the rest of the world was mute…..as mute as the US media after the coup of 2000.
    Keep up your good work. Most of the people who are supposedly experts in the field of nuclear science have backed down, and take the corporate line everything will be okay…….your site is one of the few who have not bowed to government and corporate pressures.
    Thanks again for all the brave work you do. I have great respect for you.


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