Fukushima keeps on polluting
The Fukushima nuclear accident “is far from over,” said the Asahi Shimbun. It’s been seven years since the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was struck by an earthquake and a tsunami, knocking out power to the facility’s cooling system and causing three of its six reactors to melt down. While much of the external contamination at the site has been cleaned up, we’re decades away from the ultimate goal: decommissioning the damaged reactors. Authorities have only vague ideas about the condition of the damaged cores, and they are currently storing 1 million tons of radioactive coolant water, with more generated every day. “We are still in no state to see the peak of the mountain,” says Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. “We don’t even know what sort of uphill slope awaits us.” Removal of the spent fuel won’t begin until 2023, three years later than planned. Why is it taking so long? Some regulators speculate that TEPCO, the utility that operates the plant, may be worrying more about its profit margin than its responsibility to Japanese taxpayers. As the utility whose shoddy safety practices “allowed the nuclear disaster to occur,” TEPCO has an obligation “to invest sufficient capital and manpower” in the cleanup.