Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The troubled past of Fukushima: How the stricken nuclear plant failed safety checks and crammed its buildings with more uranium than they could stand

22nd Mar 2011 - Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant had one of the country's worst safety records and was crammed with more uranium than it was designed to hold, it has emerged.

American engineers who masterminded the building had not intended for spent fuel to be housed inside the 'flimsy' shells of the reactor buildings that were rocked by the earthquake on March 11.

But the reactor buildings at the plant held the equivalent of almost six years of the highly radioactive uranium fuel rods produced by the plant when disaster struck.

Officials within the Japanese government, the power company and the nuclear watchdog are now likely to face tough questions about why the spent fuel roads were stored inside the building.

A much safer but more costly option would have been to build far stronger separate buildings designed specifically for nuclear storage but the plant has been subject to a cost-cutting drive under its chief executive Masataka Shimizu.

The crisis, which has seen more than 45,000 residents evacuated and a country filled with the fear of a nuclear Armageddon, has focused attention on the plant's safety procedures and its history of failed checks. Read More