Fukushima Endgame: Years, a Fortune Away

Will likely take decades to decommission nuke plant
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 9, 2011 10:04 AM CDT
Fukushima Endgame: Years, a Fortune Away
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.    ((AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.,File))

The day when radiation stops spilling out of Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi is still unknown, but it'll be at least a decade and millions of dollars beyond that by the time the nuclear plant is decommissioned, reports the AP. That's the timeline from Toshiba, which built four of the six reactors, and says it needs 10 years to remove fuel rods and reactors, while containing radioactivity at the site. Other experts say it'll take decades: "The best solution is to entomb the site for 40, 50, 60 years," says one expert, to allow the radiation to decay.

Three Mile Island partially melted down 32 years ago, and is two decades away from being decommissioned—with a price tag of $850 million. The Chernobyl disaster was 25 years ago, and parts of Ukraine still aren't habitable. "It's like a funeral where the pallbearers have to stand around for decades," says an expert. But both those accidents involved a single reactor; four of Fukushima's six are affected. Which is just one more heartbreak for area residents: "We will all have to move away," says a 36-year-old living in a shelter. "It's different for us, because this disaster may never end," (Read more Fukushima Dai-ichi stories.)

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