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Is Fukushima capable of withstanding a super typhoon? via DW

The strongest typhoon of the year is expected to hit Japan this weekend. Of particular concern is the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. But as nuclear expert Michael Maqua tells DW no critical situations are expected.

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The operator of the battered power plant, TEPCO, has been having trouble with the early stages of an ice wall being built under the broken reactors to prevent radioactive water from leaking into the ocean. But is the plant also braced for the impact of a super typhoon?

Michael Maqua, nuclear expert at GRS, a German-based organization specializing in the fields of nuclear safety and radioactive waste management, says in a DW interview that while it is likely that some rain water will mix with the contaminated water in the basements of the reactor buildings and thus more radioactivity may be washed into the sea, no critical scenarios are expected given that the vital functions of the plant are secured and out of the reach of flood waters.

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What are currently the biggest hurdles for TEPCO in terms of decommissioning the crippled reactors?

TEPCO faces two main problems: First, the isolation of the reactor buildings from the environment to prevent further radioactive contamination. To solve this problem, an ice wall around the buildings is being constructed, as already explained before.

In addition, intensive efforts are being made to identify the leakage areas within the buildings and to fix them, if possible. The second challenge is the removal of the molten cores in the reactor, a task which may only be finished within the next decades.

Michael Maqua is head of the plant engineering department at GRS, a German-based organization specializing in the fields of nuclear safety and radioactive waste management.

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