The U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency Monday began reviewing the decommissioning process at Japan's crippled nuclear plant, where new problems are triggering growing safety concerns about a cleanup expected to take decades. The experts will assess and analyze melted reactors, radiation levels and waste management at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to make its decommissioning process safer and more stable.
The investigators told parliament on Monday that the recently formed Nuclear Regulation Authority is merely rubber-stamping TEPCO's work at the plant, which is still using makeshift equipment put together after the March 2011 disaster, caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
The plan is meant to encourage more innovation and modernization of the power grid as the country grapples with its energy policy following the shut-downs of almost all its nuclear power plants after the March 2011 tsunami disaster at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. acknowledged in a report that it was not prepared to deal with the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeastern Japan in March 2011. The twin disasters cut power at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, causing meltdowns at three reactors.
Several groups have published findings of their own investigations into the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, which was ravaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Previous investigations have largely blamed the disaster on botched crisis management, government-industry collusion and the tsunami.
An independent panel says the operator of Japan's tsunami-crippled nuclear plant misinformed investigators and blocked inspection of key equipment last year, but that there was no cover-up attempt. The case involves a parliamentary probe of equipment at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's Unit 1 reactor.
All but five of the nation's 104 nuclear reactors were performing at acceptable safety levels at the end of 2012, Macfarlane said, citing a recent NRC report. "You can't engage that many reactors and not have a few that are going to have difficulty," she said.
Memorial services are planned Monday in Tokyo and in barren towns along the battered northeastern coast to coincide the moment the magnitude-9.0 earthquake — the strongest recorded in Japan's history — struck, unleashing a massive tsunami that killed nearly 19,000 people.
Just as with Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, mental distress could be one of the biggest health issues to emerge from this disaster, experts say. While attention has focused on the potential cancer risks, they remain unclear. What is clear is that the uncertainty and the upheaval it's caused in people's lives is already exacting a very real and pervasive psychological toll.
People exposed to the highest doses of radiation during Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant disaster in 2011 may have a slightly higher risk of cancer but one so small it probably won't be detectable, the World Health Organization said in a report released Thursday.
The five-member panel commissioned by the Nuclear Regulation Authority announced Monday that the structure underneath the Tsuruga plant showed signs of seismic movement around 100,000 years ago, recent enough to still be active. Japanese guidelines prohibit nuclear facilities above active faults.
If disaster strikes a nuclear power plant in the U.S., the utility industry wants the ability to fly in heavy-duty equipment that could avert a meltdown.That capability is part of a larger industry plan being developed to meet new rules that emerged since a 2011 tsunami struck a nuclear plant in Japan, flooding its emergency equipment and causing nuclear meltdowns.
The head of the utility behind Japan's nuclear crisis has acknowledged that hundreds of workers at the contaminated Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were mobilized through a murky hiring system. Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose attributed the hiring problem to high worker turnover at the worksite.
Some of these same scientists have consistently given optimistic assessments about the health risks of radiation, interviews with the scientists and government documents show. Their pivotal role in setting policy after the March 2011 tsunami and ensuing nuclear meltdowns meant the difference between schoolchildren playing outside or indoors and families staying or evacuating.
Toshiba Corp. unveiled a robot Wednesday that the company says can withstand high radiation and help in nuclear disasters. But it remains unclear what exactly the new machine will be capable of doing if and when it gets the go-ahead to enter Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
The Japanese operator of the nuclear power plant devastated in last year's disasters is seeking more government financial support, saying the cost of the cleanup could be double the $62.5 billion allocated so far. Tokyo Electric Power Co. made the appeal in a management "action plan" it presented Wednesday.
Members of a Japanese government team assigned to set reactor safety measures received funding from utility companies or atomic industry manufacturers, raising questions about the experts' neutrality in the wake of last year's tsunami-triggered nuclear disaster.
Japanese nuclear regulators inspected ground structures at the country's only operating nuclear plant to examine if an existing fault line is active. The inspection Friday determines whether the Ohi plant in western Japan should close. Its No. 3 and No. 4 reactors went back online in July, becoming Japan's only operating reactors.
The operator of a Japanese nuclear plant that went into a tsunami-triggered meltdown knew the risks from highly radioactive water at the site but sent in crews without adequate protection or warnings, a worker said in a legal complaint. The actions by Tokyo Electric Power Co. led to radiation injuries, said the contract worker.
About a quarter of the $148 billion budget for reconstruction after the March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and research whaling, a Japanese government accounting shows.
The utility behind Japan's nuclear disaster acknowledged for the first time Friday that it could have avoided the crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said in a statement that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year's tsunami triggered three meltdowns, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them.
Perhaps the most significant legacy of the earthquake will arise from what happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was situated in the direct path of the tsunami. The fact that the emergency generators were in a vulnerable position where floodwaters could stop them is only one of a number of design flaws that contributed to the magnitude of the disaster.
Japan's Cabinet stopped short of committing to phase out nuclear power by 2040, backtracking from an advisory panel's recommendations in the face of opposition from pro-nuclear businesses and groups. While not endorsing the energy policy document calling for the phase-out released last week, the Cabinet ministers did vaguely agree to pursue its goals.
Toyota's quarterly sales soared nearly 60 percent to $70.5 billion, showing how strongly the company has recovered from last year's earthquake.
GM's sales fell 6 percent from a year earlier, while Ford's slipped 4 percent, while Toyota is enjoying a 26-percent jump over last year's earthquake recovery.