Fukushima clean-up teams are still unable to locate around 600 tons of melted radioactive fuel that leaked from three nuclear reactors, Tokyo Electric Power Company’s chief of decommissioning told the ABC’s Foreign Correspondent program in an exclusive interview.
Naohiro Masuda, said TEPCO hoped to pinpoint the exact location of the radioactive fuel and begin removing it from 2021, but he admitted the technology needed to remove the fuel still has to be invented.
“It’s estimated that approximately 200 tons of debris lies within each unit,” said TEPCO’s Naohiro Masuda.
“So in total, about 600 tons of melted debris fuel and a mixture of concrete and other metals are likely to be there.”
10 million bags of contaminated soil in gigantic waste dumps
Another supporter turned opponent of nuclear power is Naoto Kan, who was the Japanese prime minister at the time of the Fukushima meltdowns.
He says those who argue that nuclear power is a safe, cheap source of energy are misguided.
“So far, the government is paying $70 billion to support TEPCO,” Mr Kan said.
“But that is not enough. It will probably cost more than $240 billion. I think 40 years to decommission the plant is an optimistic view.”
More than 100,000 Japanese are still unable to return home because their communities lie in elevated radiation zones.
More than 10 million large bags of contaminated soil and waste have so far been collected. The bags are now stored in thousands of sites around Fukushima, with some of the piles several storeys high.
“In order for people to come back, we need to show that the Fukushima plant is in a stable condition,” Naohiro Masuda said.