As June wanes we find more delays, more problems and new admissions about the extent of the disaster.
TEPCO introduced a new roadmap plan. At the same time they announced that spent fuel removal work for units 1-3 would be delayed again. Currently they are attempting to remove the cover on unit 1 but this process has not actually begun based on visual evidence at the plant. Work at unit 3 had been underway in early spring to remove parts of the crane that fell into the fuel pool. An oil leak was found as they attempted to remove a portion of the crane. Around the same time they discovered damage to the metal gate that connects the spent fuel pool to the reactor well. After this discovery, removal work at unit 3 appeared to cease.
Newer reports also showed that the earlier concept of flooding the reactor containments to remove damaged fuel debris is being phased out. This will require research to be focused on ways to remove fuel without doing so under water. Something that has not been done is to drill under the reactor buildings to check for fuel debris that may have burned through the basement of the reactor buildings. At this point the melted fuel at units 1-3 has not been located. Delays in investigation efforts and denial of the potential extent of the damage will only drive up costs and create years of additional delay.
Bags of contaminated soil stored at sites around Japan and in Fukushima prefecture have began to fail. It was not mentioned how they would remediate the damaged bags or what precautions would be used to prevent bags from failing during the transportation process. Contaminated soil is to be moved to two new storage facilities near Fukushima Daiichi.
The government has decided to allow businesses back into the evacuation zone. Nahara is also a location where reactor debris was discovered. A group of shareholders seeking to hold TEPCO accountable for the nuclear disaster uncovered a 2008 document where TEPCO admits the tsunami risk and that something must be done. Somehow after that 2008 report was discussed by TEPCO executives they managed to bury the document and do nothing to prevent what happened in 2011.
In a recent Mainichi interview, new details of the chaotic evacuations during the nuclear disaster were revealed. Officials raised the contamination level where they would attempt to decontaminate someone from 13,000 CPM to 100,000 CPM. All parties acknowledged that removing people from the unsafe areas was a larger priority than decontaminating them.