‘Quick response’ promised as Fukushima radiation spikes

2 September 2013
By Edd Gent
Mobile version
Share |
NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka in front of a screen showing the current situation of the contaminated water leakage at Fukushima

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka in front of a screen showing the current situation of the contaminated water leakage at Fukushima

Japan’s government will announce plans to take control of the Fukushima crisis as early as tomorrow as radiation levels spike 18-fold.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, said over the weekend that radiation near a tank holding highly contaminated water at the plant had spiked to 18 times the initial reading, a level that could kill an unprotected person in four hours.

The government will present a "comprehensive package of measures" on the water problem as soon as Tuesday, a senior official said, as some outside the government call for a break-up of Tepco and amid proposals to create a government agency devoted to decommissioning the plant.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the government "will step forward and implement all necessary policies" to deal with the flood of radioactive water from the plant, a legacy of the world's worst atomic disaster in a quarter century.

"The government has stayed in the background and extended support for Tokyo Electric's effort to tackle the problem of contaminated water. But we've now decided that Tokyo Electric's patchwork response has reached its limit, and the government needs to come forward and quickly respond, even by using budget reserves," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters.

The package of measures will be presented to a taskforce dealing with the contaminated water problem, officials said, with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) reiterating that it may have to consider discharging water with radiation below regulatory limits into the ocean.

Tepco has been pumping water over the wrecked reactors to keep them cool and storing the radioactive waste water as well as contaminated ground water in ever-growing numbers of above-ground tanks.

Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) chairman Shunichi Tanaka told reporters there was no evidence of new water leaks at the Fukushima plant, following the discovery of high radiation levels in recent days.

He said: "The people at the Fukushima plant have been dealing with the post-accident situation with haphazard, stop-gap measures for several years." Tanaka said the NRA has instructed plant officials to foresee possible risks and take action as quickly as possible to mitigate them.

More broadly, policymakers may be moving toward even greater intervention in the on-going response to the nuclear disaster, with Yasuhisa Shiozaki, deputy policy chief of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and head of its project team on nuclear regulation, calling for the creation of a "decommissioning agency". 

He also urged the merging of the NRA with the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organisation, a body that provides engineering experts and inspects Japan's nuclear facilities.

Giving Tokyo direct oversight of Fukushima, a decommissioning agency could resemble Britain's National Decommissioning Authority, a public body charged with managing the dismantling of the nation's atomic power and research stations.

"It is an urgent task to promptly restructure our overall nuclear power policies under a resolute system and revive domestic and international trust," Shiozaki said in comments posted on his website.

Debate has also emerged over nationalising or breaking up Tepco to put the Fukushima reactors directly under official control.

Tepco, Japan's largest utility, last year got a 1 trillion yen (£6.5bn) injection of tax money in exchange for giving the government a de facto controlling stake, but management has been left to the company.

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1604

"Should the UK's engineers be in or out of Europe? The IET sets out its official position on the EU referendum this week - will you agree?"

->

E&T jobs

  • Solutions Engineer

    Bristol Water
    • United Kingdom
    • £41,000 - 49,000

    We serve a population of over one million people and all the associated businesses in an area of 1,000 square miles centered on Bristol.

    • Recruiter: Bristol Water

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Mechanical Engineer

    Bristol Water
    • United Kingdom
    • £41,000 - 49,000

    We serve a population of over one million people and all the associated businesses in an area of 1,000 square miles centered on Bristol.

    • Recruiter: Bristol Water

    Apply for this job

  • Software Renewals Manager

    BAE Systems
    • Preston, Lancashire, England
    • Negotiable

    Software Renewals Manager Would you like to work in a resourceful and developing role within IT Services? We currently have a vacancy for a Software Renewals Manager at our site in Preston Channel Way. As a Software Renewals Manager, you will be responsi

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Technical Manager

    Aggregate Industries
    • Hulland Ward, Ashbourne
    • Attractive salary plus comprehensive benefits

    A key Technical Manager role driving product improvement and compliance with Aggregate Industries, market leader in Construction Solutions.

    • Recruiter: Aggregate Industries

    Apply for this job

  • Field Application Engineer

    Intel
    • Madrid

    Responsible for giving product presentations to the customer describing how Intel products provide the optimum solution to their application.

    • Recruiter: Intel

    Apply for this job

  • Engineers and Scientists

    European Patent Office
    • Munich and The Hague
    • See job description

    We are looking for Engineers and scientists in various technical fields for our locations in Munich and The Hague.

    • Recruiter: European Patent Office

    Apply for this job

  • Director of Product Management

    EMS Recruitment Group
    • West Yorkshire
    • Circa £70,000 PA + car allowance, excellent benefits including lucrative bonus scheme

    Our client is the undoubted world leader in their field. A highly innovative and progressive specialist electro-mechanical product manufacturer....

    • Recruiter: EMS Recruitment Group

    Apply for this job

  • Electrical Engineer

    Premium job

    Scottish Prison Service
    • Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh
    • £40,654 to £48,579 plus annual supplement of £10,000

    Build Your Engineering Career. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) is an Agency of the Scottish Government, working in partnership.....

    • Recruiter: Scottish Prison Service

    Apply for this job

  • Sales Electronics Engineer

    Premium job

    Precision Microdrives
    • London (Greater)
    • £25,000 - £30,000 starting salary, inclusive of on-target commissions.

    Precision Microdrives (PMD) is a fast growing technology company that designs, produces and trades miniature electro-mechanical mechanisms

    • Recruiter: Precision Microdrives

    Apply for this job

  • Installation and Commissioning Engineer

    Premium job

    Crest Solutions
    • Corby
    • Competitive

    You will be involved in installation, commissioning & servicing of printing and machine vision related solutions.

    • Recruiter: Crest Solutions

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶

Subscribe

Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T