via SMH.com.au / Aug 27, 2013 / The Japanese government has lost patience with the efforts of the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to get the crippled reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant under control.
Toshimitsu Motegi, the minister of trade and industry, visited the plant on Monday to determine progress on decommissioning three reactors damaged by an earthquake and tsunami in March, 2011.
Tepco admitted last week that hundreds of tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from a steel tank at the plant and that as much as 300 tons of contaminated water has been escaping into the sea every day since the earthquake.
Mr Motegi said, “The urgency of the situation is very high. From here on, the government will take charge.”
The minister said poor maintenance by Tepco was to blame for continuing problems at the site.As well as leaks of contaminated water, work to bring the damaged reactors under control has been slow. Radiation levels in three of the reactor buildings are so high that it is impossible for workers to spend more than a couple of minutes inside at one time. The true state of the reactor chambers remains unclear and there are suggestions that the tons of water that are being sprayed on the reactor vessels to keep them at a stable temperature has compromised the foundations of the structures.
Experts have also warned that the effort to gain control of the reactors – which is likely to take 30 years – could be undone if another major earthquake or tsunami strikes.
Japan’s environment ministry also announced yesterday a plan to step up decontamination efforts in the 18-mile exclusion zone around the plant.