Nov. 19, 2013: [...] the real challenge: removing melted or partially melted
fuel from the three reactors that had meltdowns, and figuring out how to
treat and store it so it won't heat up and start a nuclear reaction again.
"This is an unprecedented task that nobody in the world has achieved. We
still face challenges that must be overcome," said Hajimu Yamana, a Kyoto
University nuclear engineer who heads a government-affiliated agency that is
overseeing technological research and development for the cleanup. [...]
Computer simulations show the melted fuel in Unit 1, whose core damage was
the most extensive, has breached the bottom of the primary containment
vessel and even partially eaten into its concrete foundation, coming within
about 30 centimeters (one foot) of leaking into the ground. "We just can't
be sure until we actually see the inside of the reactors," Yamana said.
II have read credible estimates elsewhere - from recognized nuclear power
experts, including one of the administrators of the Hanford cleanup -- that
the ultimate cleanup & containment costs will run into the many hundreds of
billions of dollars.
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