Rebuilding Fukushima....Eight Years Later

   

The waters have long receded back into the Pacific, the streets are empty save for the stray debris blowing along every so often, silence falls over abandoned neighborhoods—Fukushima, eight years later, is slowly returning to the world. Slowly, the images are losing their shine—the waves lapping hundreds of cars along in their wake like plastic cities further out in the barren nowhere of the oceans, the sudden darkness of electricity destroyed, the hydrogen explosions curling darkly into the air, the ruins, the endless ruins of hollowed-out buildings and warehouses, ripped steel and wires leaning out into deserted sunlight, the shredded mask of Northern Japan emptied of 100,000 souls…..

Over the past eight years the wreckage of Fukushima has remained where it fell, dark and dormant. Not anymore—the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has began the tedious and not without a percussive hint of danger, operation for removing the still toxic nuclear fuel buried beneath the power plant’s carcass. Delicately, Tepco will employ a tapestry of remote-controlled equipment that will lift the fuel from its crypt and place it into a secure water facility for long-term storage. The process is expected to last several years. What injects the molasses of tediousness into the operation is the vast wasteland of debris, crumbling structures, and well, junk, encapsulating the three reactors that melted down during the tsunami-induced disaster—this impassible layer of waste must be cleared before any work removing the fuel rods can safely take place. Safety—even in such a place ravaged and raked over by nature and time, remains critical throughout. The fuel itself is stored in radioactive cylinders, which, if broken or cracked during removal, could hurl radioactive gases free-flowing through the air, where all they would need is a swift jet-stream to catch a death trip around the globe. Removal of the nuclear fuel is not expected until at least 2021, the debris presenting such a challenge.

Last week, the Japanese government officially lifted the evacuation order that had kept residents from returning to their homes and their old lives for the last eight years, though it expects few citizens to do so. So far only fifty people have returned to the communities they were sent fleeing from nearly a decade ago. With nature reclaiming the land into a Gaian graveyard and the invisible threat of radiation still drooping over, it’s not difficult to understand why most will stay away. Remember, there are still those who can never go back—18,500 lives destroyed as the ocean buried the land.

Fukushima was a disaster whose impact reached well beyond the island of Japan—the global nuclear industry, still hot on the heels of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, took a long and dormant step backwards. Japan abandoned the industry together, taking leading parts manufacturer Yokogawa with them into the shadows. Nuclear again became a dirty and dangerous word. Only now, nearly in the glove of a new decade, is the tide slowly beginning to turn. Japan is reawakening. The French have become nearly avant-garde in their nuclear sophistication, experimenting with recyclable fuel—America has shed its Obama era policies and is stretching into the new nuclear light as well.

Otek is right there for the revival. With our New Technology Series and the pioneering, cyber-security exempt Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM), we aim to be at the forefront of the 21st century nuclear comeback. The world desperately needs it. With all this jazz about clean energy, New Green Deals, and the black mast of CO2 emissions, nuclear energy’s time in the sun has come again. Otek strives, through reliability, responsibility, and creative technology, to help the nuclear industry once and for all meet its enormous potential, to deliver on its promise.

For more information on how Otek is helping revive the nuclear industry, or any insight into our wonderful array of customizable products, please feel free to call us at (520) 748-7900 or email our sales office at sales@otekcorp.com.