I realize the current concern is to contain the radiation and prevent a meltdown but does that mean they are actually moving towards permanently disabling the power plant? Is that even an option? If they pour a bunch of concrete in there or something that’s irreversible how will they ever restore power to the cities that are affected? I’m guessing building a new reactor is a non-trivial task.
No, it’s wrecked. If the earthquake damage wasn’t enough, the subsequent fires, explosions, and pumping of seawater into the reactor has made it a total loss. I’d be surprised if much of anything is salvageable.
ETA: I’d bet that they won’t replace it with another Nuke plant.
I think 5 and 6 are still recoverable.
I wouldn’t be so sure its a write-off. A nuclear power plant of that size is a major, major long term investment. In the order of tens of billions of dollars and several decades time. It consists of six separate reactors three of which were down for maintenance at the time of the earthquake.
The reactors that have been flooded with seawater (and Boron) are contaminated beyond repair, but only the reactors themselves. A nuclear power plant is a huge complex and the nuclear pile and vessel are only one part of it.
While sustaining heavy damage none of the reactors have reached ‘Chernobyl-level’ damage. Not even close really. And the other three Chernobyl reactors were kept going. Granted that that’s mostly because the old Soviet system valued hardware much more than people.
If the complex isn’t heavily contaminated I think it will be repaired. The Japanese are a decidedly non-hysterical, practical people. And the biggest mistake they made in this plants design is simply not putting the backup generators in a high enough position so that they weren’t knocked out by flooding. The whole disaster started from there (minus the tsunami of course).
There were 6 reactors there, only 3 or 4 of them have been damaged so far. Those are almost certainly damaged beyond repair. Even if they were repairable, they are old & outdated compared to modern designs, so not worth spending the money to repair them. (In terms of a car accident, “totaled”.)
But all the rest of the plant besides the reactors themselves is still there, and probably not too badly damaged. If they get this under control, and are able to seal & shield the old reactors, they might well build new reactors on the same site and put them online. There are advantages to that; for example, the site is a major interconnect point for the electrical distribution grid. Recreating that elsewhere would be a major expense, compared to just connecting up a new reactor to the existing grid.
If I remember correctly, #4 never had seawater pumped into the reactor core, so it might be salvageable as well. Reactors #1 through #3, though, had large amounts of seawater pumped through them before the latest radiation spike. Given how junk-filled and corrosive seawater is, I would guess that it won’t be cost-effective to try to clean up these reactors, recertify their safety (especially given the manifest failure of said safety systems in this case), and return them to service.
The successor system was just as bad in that respect; the other reactors continued to be run for nearly a decade after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
also from the AP this morning:
"The actions authorities are taking to cool the reactors are the best ones available, experts say. Eventually, the plant may be entombed in concrete, as was done hastily after the 1986 Chernobyl reactor accident.
But pressures and temperatures must be controlled before then, said Mario V. Bonaca, an adviser to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Otherwise, he said, overheated nuclear fuel will melt or burst through the sand, cement or other covering and release more radiation. "
No, those reactors are toast. Even the authority respecting Japanese probably wouldn’t allow them to be fixed even if it were possible.
The site is contaminated. The cleanup is not going to be perfect, so one of the things (possibly the only thing) the site will be good for in the future is a nuke station, so it is not unlikely new, safer designs will replace the ruined reactors.
In addition to the land, there is probably a fair bit of expensive infrastructure that might be salvaged: Transmission lines, switch yards, rail spurs, dormitories, Seawater (for cooling) handling, stuff like that.
They ‘officially’ announced today that the entire site is going to be ‘recycled’, and none of the reactors will ever be operated there again.
Estimates for the cost of clean up is 125 Billion dollars. This assumes nothing gets worse at the plant for the next few decades.
:eek: That’s just for Fukushima Daiichi?
Fukushima Daini down the coast, plus the other nuke plants affected by the earthquake, were shut down, properly cooled, etc, and are okay?
That is just for the 6 reactors.
What the article actually says:
That’s one-tenth of $125 billion. It’s also a worst-case estimate. It may be higher, I suppose. It may be lower. It’s an estimate for 30 years and not very meaningful. However, $125 billion it ain’t.
I may have been confused by the sister story here. 132 billion
I know the Japanese people have bigger things on their plates right now than their electric bills, but…
What does the closure of these reactors mean to the Japanese utility customers whose electric power was generated at these stations?
some amount of their customer locations no longer exist.
The remaining customers are suffering rolling blackouts to cope with the loss of power. All extra lighting etc is shut off in the big cities and people are trying really hard to conserve power. It’s going to be horrible in the summer with no aircon…
As I understood it from the news, they shut down all reactors in the country (which provide what, about half the country’s power?). They want to be sure (a) whatever messed up on these reactors is notgoing to happen anywhere else and (b) probably all their resources and much of their trained staff areprobably beingc ycled through the affected plant so they have no resources for the rest.
Hence the rolling blackouts, all the shut down factories etc. They haven’t lost half their power capacity or even close, but for now it is turned off until the situation is stabilized.
They didn’t shut down all the plants in the country. Most of the power plants were far enough away from the epicenter that they didn’t even need to shut down. It looks like only four sites were affected: Onagawa, Fukushima Daiichi, Fukushima Daini, and Tokai, and of those only Fukushima Daiichi is having major problems. Fukushima Daini has some damage but managed a safe cold shutdown. I don’t know what, if any, damage was suffered at Onagawa or Tokai.