Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has agreed to accept the help of the U.S. Department of Energy with the fuel rod removal, a process considered to be one of the most dangerous in the decommissioning of the nuclear facility. If it is not done properly, the process could lead to a whole new nuclear accident.
Naomi Hirose, president of TEPCO, has decided to accept the help after discussing with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz when they visited Fukushima No. 1 on Friday to inspect preparations to remove fuel rods from the reactor 4 storage pool.
After Japan received huge public critics regarding its refuse to accept foreign help, the country has recently begun to show more willingness to do so.
“As Japan continues to chart its sovereign path forward on the cleanup at the Fukushima site and works to determine the future of energy economy, the United States stands ready to continue assisting our partners in this daunting yet indispensable task,” Moniz said.
Hirose also said that, “We will work together to tackle many challenges toward decommissioning. I have high hopes that we will be able to benefit from U.S. experience and expertise at Fukushima No. 1.”
A long series of recent breakdowns have revealed grave vulnerabilities at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant that was hit by a violent earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
TEPCO has since struggled to deal with the huge amounts of toxic water used to cool reactors that went into meltdown after being struck two years ago.
TEPCO was repeatedly blamed by engineers and industrial experts for its negligence in administrating the toxic water leaks and for lacking the basic skills to measure radioactivity.
“As far as TEPCO people on our contaminated water and sea monitoring panels are concerned, they seem to lack even the most basic knowledge about radiation,” said Kayoko Nakamura, a radiologist and commissioner of the Nuclear Regulation Authority.