” Fukushima power plant operators’ recent update on the nuclear accident clean-up makes it clear there is still a long way to go to remediate the area.
It has been almost five years since the nuclear accident at Fukushima, where three reactors experienced core meltdowns and the plant spewed radioactivity across a huge area, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to leave their homes and livelihoods.
The operators said they have picked up the debris from the accident and built some new protective structures on the site but the trickiest job of finding and removing the nuclear fuel in the reactors have not yet started.
Naohiro Masuda, the man tasked with the job of decommissioning the plant, said “in the first couple of years it was like working in a field hospital in a warzone”.
“It was like running through flames,” he said.
Tokyo will host the Olympics in four years and many in the Government would prefer the message from Fukushima to be a lot more positive.
Mr Masuda said there was still melted fuel in reactors one, two and three.
“But honestly we don’t know about the situation, we don’t know where it’s fallen,” he said.
In the five years since the nuclear accident, work at the plant has focused on a physical clean-up of the site, debris from earthquake and tsunami damage to the buildings has been removed.
But the most difficult and complex work has yet to begin and was not known where the melted nuclear debris is inside the reactors.
In the wake of the nuclear disaster, Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors were switched off and a safety review carried out.
The three reactors are operating again — with plans to switch on many more as soon as they meet the requirements of a new, stricter safety code.
Buddhist monk says Government has not ‘learnt its lesson’
The Buddhist monk Tokuo Hayakawa, who resides in the 600-year-old Hokyoji temple in the hills behind the Fukushima power plant, said that Japan has not learnt its lesson from the nuclear accident.
“It’s clear that it’ll happen again,” he said.
He and his community were forced to flee in the aftermath of the nuclear accident.
Dressed in his black prayer robes, adorned with anti-nuclear badges, monk Hayakawa said the Government had let the people down and he believed the situation at the plant was far from under control.
The evacuation order has been lifted in a nearby town, but young people were not returning.
Mr Hayakawa said he believed as the decommission progresses in the area will disappear.
He said the Government should abandon its nuclear energy policy.
“They must stop using nuclear power because safety can’t be guaranteed,” Mr Hayakawa said.
“I feel sad and angry, even more than I did at the time of the accident.”