A U.N. nuclear watchdog team said Japan may need longer than the projected 40 years to decommission its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant and urged its operator to improve plant stability.
The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency team, Juan Carlos Lentijo, said Monday that damage at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is so complex that it is “impossible” to predict how long the cleanup may last.
“As for the duration of the decommissioning project, this is something that you can define in your plans. But in my view, it will be nearly impossible to ensure the time for decommissioning such a complex facility in less than 30-40 years as it is currently established in the roadmap,” Lentijo said.
Lentijo, an expert on nuclear fuel cycles and waste technology, warned of more problems to come.
“It is expectable in such a complex site, additional incidence will occur as it happened in the nuclear plants under normal operations,” Lentijo said. “It is important to have a very good capability to identify as promptly as possible failures and to establish compensatory measures.”
He said TEPCO’s risk communication and disclosures have been problematic and urged the utility to take extra steps to regain public trust.
The IAEA team urged the plant operator to “improve the reliability of essential systems to assess the structural integrity of site facilities, and to enhance protection against external hazards” and promptly replace temporary equipment with a more reliable, permanent system.
The 13-member mission plans to release a report next month.
Among the most pressing issues recently was the leak of tons of highly radioactive water from three of seven underground storage pools into the soil. TEPCO and regulatory officials said none of it was believed to have reached the ocean. TEPCO has moved underground water from the pools to more reliable tanks.
Read more at IAEA: Japan nuclear cleanup may take more than 40 yrs