Team Weighs Mammoth Task: Dismantling Reactors

Planning begins as stabilizing efforts continue at Fukushima
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2011 9:30 AM CDT
Japan Nuclear Plant Disaster: Toshiba, US Engineers Plan Reactors' Dismantling
In this video image taken from NTV Japan via APTN, smoke raises from Fukushima Daiichi power plant's Unit 1 in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011.   (AP Photo/NTV Japan via APTN)

It could be months or years before authorities have simply stabilized Japan’s nuclear crisis, but Japanese and American engineers are already teaming up to figure out how to dismantle the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant’s reactors. Toshiba and Westinghouse are among the firms planning the gargantuan task: Never before have four reactors been decommissioned at a single plant, notes the New York Times, and no Japanese nuclear plant in history has been totally decommissioned.

But Westinghouse and Babcock & Wilcox, another US firm, have experience in the process: They were involved in the Three Mile Island cleanup. Individually, “each of these problems is solvable and have been solved before,” says a Toshiba rep. The twist "is really the complexity and combination of factors"—tasks include building demolition, getting rid of nuclear fuel, and restoring the nearby area. The team, which calls itself "Mt. Fuji" (short for Management Support for Fukushima US and Japan Initiative), is already considering its machinery needs, and plans to open a NY office that will operate while those at its Tokyo counterpart sleep. (Read more engineers stories.)

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