AmiMoJo writes: The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which suffered core meltdowns in 2011, is consider a new method of immersion to dispose of radioactive fuel debris it would entirely enclose a reactor building in a tank-like structure filled with water, a source close to the company said earlier this month. Conceptual breakthroughs in the method, the benefits of which include utilizing the ability of water to interrupt radiation and thereby provide a safer working environment, have made it a promising candidate for cleaning up the defunct nuclear power plant. , according to the source close to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings ( Teco). But with no proven nuclear experience, investigations are underway into future technology issues and costs, among other possibilities. The source said it could ‘require advanced technology to stop water leaks and become a huge construction project’.

If this goes ahead, the process from construction to actual debris removal would be lengthy and would likely affect total decommissioning costs, currently pegged at around $57.45 billion. Following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in eastern Japan, nuclear fuel cooling processes failed in Units 1-3 of the Fukushima plant, causing the fuel to melt and resolidify into radioactive debris mixed with concrete, metal and other materials present in the reactors. Debris removal is the operator’s most difficult problem when cleaning up the Fukushima plant. It is estimated that some 880 tonnes of radioactive waste was created by nuclear fusion in the three reactors. The new method of submersion, currently expected to be applied to Reactor No. 3, would involve building a strong, pressure-resistant structure, much like a ship’s hull or aircraft body, completely encapsulating the reactor, including underground. The structure could then be filled with water, and removal work would take place from above.

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