Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Japanese Nuclear Crisis Seen Dragging Into 2012
The operator of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is moving toward the conclusion that it will not be able to bring the damaged facility under control in 2011, Kyodo News reported on Monday (see GSN, May 27).
The company has struggled to prevent radiation releases and explosions at the six-reactor Fukushima plant since the site was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which left more than 20,000 people dead or missing in Japan. Tokyo Electric Power in April announced a goal to stabilize all plant reactors in six to nine months, but additional damage recently discovered to several systems has prompted a number of company insiders to predict "a major delay to work" on limiting the crisis, according to one of the officials.
"The nine months is just a target deadline for which we are making efforts," one high-level company insider said, adding the potential slowdown could affect the rate at which Tokyo might consider permitting evacuated individuals to go back to their residences around the plant.
Addressing the need to patch ruptures permitting the escape of radiation-tainted water from the container of the plant's No. 1 reactor, one insider said: "Unless we understand the extent of the damage, we don't even know how long that work alone would take." The installation of a new heat abatement mechanism might require an additional one or two months, the official added (Kyodo News I/Mainichi Daily News, May 30).
Fluid in the No. 1 reactor site's underground area shot up nearly eight inches in depth between Saturday and Sunday, bolstering concerns that additional contaminated liquid could flow out of the plant, the Asahi Shimbun reported. The change in water level appeared to be a result of rain hitting the area (Takashi Sugimoto, Asahi Shimbun I, May 31). Workers measured 2.5 million becquerels of cesium 134 per cubic centimeter of liquid sampled from the basement of the No. 1 reactor structure on Friday, Japan Broadcasting reported (Japan Broadcasting I, May 31).
The plant operator indicated the site was not ready to withstand stormy weather anticipated in the region, Kyodo reported on Saturday. Material has not been dispersed in some areas of the plant to help prevent the further spread of radioactive contaminants. The company intends halfway into June to start placing tarps over wrecked portions of the facility (Kyodo News II/Mainichi Daily News, May 30).
The company on Tuesday launched a new component to remove heat from fluid in the No. 2 reactor's spent fuel cooling pond, Japan Broadcasting reported (Japan Broadcasting II, May 31).
A heat removal mechanism at the No. 5 reactor halted for 15 hours until an auxiliary system began operating, Kyodo quoted Tokyo Electric Power as saying on Sunday (Kyodo News III/Japantoday.com, May 30). The firm indicated it had taken 12 hours to publicize the incident, which began on Saturday and continued into Sunday, the Asahi Shimbun reported (Takashi Sugimoto, Asahi Shimbun II, May 31).
The company on Tuesday said petroleum was flowing out of containers at the plant's No. 5 and No. 6 reactors, the Japan Times reported (Kazuaki Nagata, Japan Times, May 31). A detonation, possibly from a gas container, did not allow additional contaminants to escape, the Associated Press reported (Yuri Kagayama, Associated Press/Yahoo!News, May 31).
The International Atomic Energy Agency said its team of investigators had examined the plant and spoke with senior facility personnel on Friday. The group is now set to communicate with Japanese government offices in collecting information for an assessment to be presented late next month at the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety (International Atomic Energy Agency release, May 30).
Radioactive contaminant concentrations potentially hundreds of times higher than usual have turned up on the ocean floor near the plant, Agence France-Presse reported (Agence France-Presse/Sydney Morning Herald, May 28).
The majority of radiation detection mechanisms in Fukushima, Ibaraki and Miyagi prefectures stopped operating for a period following the March 11 events, preventing their use in assessing the Fukushima plant disaster, Kyodo reported (Kyodo News IV/Japantoday.com, May 29).
Nov. 27, 2012
Several U.S. bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements are set to expire in the next four years, and a long list of nuclear newcomers are interested in concluding new agreements with the United States. Jessica C. Varnum examines the debate over whether stricter nonproliferation preconditions for concluding these new and renewal "123" nuclear cooperation agreements with the United States would enhance or undermine their value as instruments of U.S. nonproliferation policy.
June 14, 2012
An article by Sidney Drell, George Shultz and Steve Andreasen published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science's Science.
This article provides an overview of Japan’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.