United States Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy stepped foot on to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for the first time on Wednesday. After seeing the state of the nuclear station brought about by the meltdown in 2011, she said that the US will do whatever it can to help in the clean-up, specifically with the ongoing water contamination problems.
Wearing a white radiation protective suit and a mask while doing her inspections, Kennedy told reporters afterwards that Japan’s ally is on standby, ready to help “in any way we can.” Afterwards, she released a statement vowing that they “will offer our experience and capabilities, in particular, toward the near-term resolution of ongoing water contamination issues”. During the visit, she was also accompanied by her 21-year-old son, John Schlossberg, and they attracted the attention of the plant workers, most of whom get exposed to radiation every single day. One worker said that Kennedy’s visit to the plant was important because the world needs to know what’s still going on at Fukushima.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has already removed 814 out of the 1,533 spent fuel rod assemblies from the number 4 reactor, in what is their most complicated operation to date. But the problem of where to store the contaminated water is an issue that has to be resolved soon. There are currently 1,200-1,300 tanks at the plant that contain about 450,000 tonnes of radioactive water. In the next two years, they are expecting about 800,000 tonnes more, as per TEPCO spokesman Kenichiro Matsui. There are also around 5,000 workers at the plant each day, up from the 4,000 a year ago and they believe that number is going to increase to around 6,000. But while US and other overseas companies are eager to share their expertise in the decontamination, most of the contracts have been given to Japanese companies.
[ via Reuters ]