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Japan to Recreate Fukushima Meltdown for Analysis

Japan to Recreate Fukushima Meltdown for Analysis

This post was written by Brandon Baker and was originally published on EcoWatch.

It’s been almost three years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, but the Japan Atomic Energy Agency is still trying to figure out what went wrong.

The agency’s latest effort will be to recreate the meltdown in a controlled setting in order to analyze the event and better prepare for future incidents.

According to The Yomiuri Shimbun, the experiment will include melting a miniature version of one of the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant’s 4.5-meter rods inside a stainless-steel capsule. Neutrons emitted by fuel surrounding the capsule will spur nuclear fission in the small fuel rod, which will start melting after its temperature reaches 2,000 degrees Celsius.

The nuclear fission reaction should provide insight into the melted fuel that remains inside the three crippled Fukushima reactors. Removing the fuel from the reactors is the biggest challenge in the ongoing cleanup and further dismantling of the plant.

“We’d like to find out what phenomena occurred in the accident and use the data to work out responses in the event of another nuclear power plant accident,” an unnamed official from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency told the Japanese publication.

“We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future.”

The study will take place some time in March at the Nuclear Safety Research Reactor in Tokai of Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Nos. 1 through 3 reactors at the Fukushima plant each contained 25,000 to 35,000 fuel rods when the earthquake hit, according to The Yomiuri Shimbun. They may have began melting as soon as four hours after the earthquake.

The rods at the plant are believed to contain 14,000 times as much radioactive cesium as was released at the bombing of Hiroshima. People like grassroots, nuclear-free campaign leader Harvey Wasserman say moving 400 tons of radioactive rods from a fuel pool in one of the damaged units could end in a global catastrophe.

Tuna contaminated with radiation from Fukushima have been caught off the California coast, making some wonder how safe it is to eat fish. Additionally, 70-plus U.S. Navy sailors reported radiation sickness after responding to the disaster and have filed a lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima Daiichi energy plant.

“Results of the experiment will help us better predict the effectiveness of measures to deal with a nuclear accident, such as an emergency injection of water into a reactor,” the agency official said.

“There are no safety problems with the experiment itself.”

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Photo Credit: IAEA

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73 comments

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6:22AM PST on Jan 25, 2014

Thank you Care2 Causes Editors, for Sharing this!

3:08AM PST on Jan 22, 2014

No need to recreate anything, just close and ban it, is it so difficult to understand?! You can do NOTHING AGAINST NUKE MELTDOWN!
They're all liers, the ones who tell the contrary!

3:47PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

For God's (and humans) sake ban all nuclear power there are enough forms of renewable and traditional energy that are safer. Chernobyl and Fukushima illustrate the point that this technology is far more sinister and unsafe than any other. Britain has had minor problems too. The earth is an evolving inherently unstable entity ( even prior to mans interference). Nuclear power frightens the shit out of me!

2:24PM PST on Jan 20, 2014

The bad thing is we have plants in this country in the same dangerous places, near the ocean and on earthquake fault lines. In my area, in Florida, we have the Crystal River nuclear plant, which is right on the Gulf of Mexico. With all the huricanes we have seems to me a dangerous place. In Ohio they built a nuclear plant on the banks of Lake Erie, on a fault line. I used to live in a house that is now gone, the cooling tower sets there now. We had earthquakes every so often there, as high as 5.6. Plus look at the ones in California. We really are playing with dinomite here!

3:46AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

good grief. I'm speechless that they intend to do this.

3:39AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

I would have thought the Japanese would have enough data collected from the event and wouldn't need to recreate it. How worrisome.

1:34AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

thanks for posting

12:49AM PST on Jan 20, 2014

I wonder if their analysis is going to lead to any change in terms of how they pick and choose the methods by which they generate power. Bottom line is that nuclear is dangerous and should go the way of the dinosaur. It's better and safer to maximize renewable energy. The meltdown was a catastrophe whose effects will be felt for decades to come.

7:31PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

It really amazes me that the Japanese are so high and mighty on themselves and how ahead of the rest of the world they think they are yet they are so stupid in the big picture. Who cares how it happened and why is there a need to recreate? People already know the HOWs and WHYs. Nuclear is dangerous and they were stupid to build on the ocean along a faultline. Tsunamis Happen. That is a no brainer. What they need to be spending that money on is getting off their butts and finishing the clean up of their first disaster - NOT worrying about the next one. Prevent the next one by not having nuclear reactors. Another no brainer. And then to use all the money collected from nations to help clean up their stupidity was wasted on whaling ships (bigger and better). The idiots have ruined ALL the oceans. Sea water does not sit still. It is always moving. And to have contaminated fish off of California's coast while they sit on their butts - I take this very personally. OUR coast, my coast, is becoming contaminated because of those idiots stupidity and lack of action to clean up their own mess. I have become tired and intolerant of the Japanese and their excuses and stories while allowing radiation to even spread throughout their own country. That is assinine. If they only killed their own that would be one thing but they are taking the world with them.

5:00PM PST on Jan 19, 2014

If the builders of the plant had bothered to put the back-up generator on the roof rather than at ground level, it wouldn't have been affected by the tsunami and the rods would not have gone into uncontrolled melt-down when the electricity to pump water shut off. Why does the reaction itself need to be "recreated"? It's just common sense.

Unfortunately, no matter how much thought goes into building and operating nuclear reactors, there will always be the human element to consider. And humans make mistakes. I would think the sensible thing would simply to put solar energy cells on every rooftop and let that feed the grid, storing the energy in batteries for night time use. It's quiet, clean and efficient. We've had ours on the roof now for the past four years and have not had to pay a cent in electricity bills. Plus we're get money back because we put the excess electricity back into the grid. If only every house and business used their rood space as something other than to keep the rain of their heads, there'd be not energy "crisis" and no need for nuclear at all. But governments seem to prefer making out that there is a need for such dirty, inefficient and down-right dangerous form of energy production.

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