Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Actions speak louder than words over cold shutdown goal for Fukushima nuclear reactors - 21st Sept 2011

Achieving a "cold shutdown" of a nuclear reactor is not difficult as long as the reactor is not broken. A cold shutdown is defined by experts as a situation in which nuclear reactors whose operations are suspended are being stably cooled down and the temperatures in them are kept below 100 degrees Celsius.

However, it is no easy task to achieve a cold shutdown at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant where fuel has melted and holes have developed in damaged reactors.

Goshi Hosono, state minister for the prevention of nuclear accidents, told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) annual general meeting under way in Vienna that Tokyo will do its best to achieve a cold shutdown of the stricken reactors at the plant by the end of this year. His remark suggests that the government intends to bring forward its target of achieving a stable cool-down of the troubled reactors and of substantially reducing the amount of radioactive substances released from the plant by January 2012.

The temperature at the bottom of the No. 1 reactor's pressure vessel has been stabilized at less than 100 degrees Celsius, and that of the No. 3 reactor has recently been kept below that level. Hosono appears to have made the remark at the IAEA conference while keeping in mind these positive signs.

It is a matter of course for the government to try its utmost to bring the crippled reactors under control as soon as possible, and it is important for it to show its determination to achieve this goal to the international community. Read More