Fukushima to be Decommissioned Assisted by UK
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
Sellafield Engineers to Advise on Shutdown
The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant that experienced major damage due to a Tsunami is to be decommissioned as damage is too great to make repairs feasible and Japan needs to move forward with a new and more effectively designed nuclear plant to boost its atomic agenda. Engineers are being called in from Sellafield in Cumbria to help with the shutting down of the crippled site. Lady Judge is a British-American nuclear expert who is advising the Fukushima Plant in Japan and has arranged for engineers to help with the shut-down and decontamination that is still present in the area.
Lady Judge feels that the engineers at Sellafield and Dounreay have the necessary experience with major nuclear power shutdown procedures that they would be of benefit to the Japanese in doing so safely at Fukushima. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is the owner of the Fukushima Plant are planning on launching a new subsidiary company in April that will be responsible for the decommissioning of the stricken plant and also with the decontamination of the area and this will be under the auspices of a Japanese Nuclear expert who will be guided by the British experts.
Although it has not been made widely known that the nuclear plant is still emitting dangerous levels of radiation on the site, a short while ago employees in non-essential positions were instructed to stay at home because of dangerous levels of radiation. It has been said that this phenomenon can occur naturally with seepage coming from rocks and soil deposits, and in the opinion of Sellafield engineers this occurred at the 1957 nuclear accident in the UK. They say that the high reading is probably as a result of the same effect that triggered alarms in Japan.
Lady Judge is convinced that the exchange of knowledge between Japan and the UK will be highly beneficial to both countries and she says that the nuclear industry as a whole will gain from the move. At present Japanese companies Toshiba and Hitachi are leading in the plans to build new nuclear plants in the UK. The three new plants are to be constructed in West Cumbria’s Moorside. She also said that although Britain has lost most of its nuclear construction experts, they were a world leader in the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.
Lady Judge has long been associated with Nuclear power since she was asked to Chair TEPCO Nuclear Reform 18 months ago. She is currently in charge of safety at the plant. TEPCO has lost face with the Japanese and is desperate to rebuild trust again after the disaster at Fukushima. The majority of Nuclear plants in Japan remain closed in the wake of the disaster, and Japan is literally being crippled by the import costs of oil and gas to generate electricity. This has had a knock-on effect of pushing up the Japanese trade deficit and inflation and consumer prices are at an all-time high.
TEPCO are hopeful that Lady Judge and her commission will be the answer to safely shutting down the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, and renew other Japanese nuclear plants confidence to start up once more.
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