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Japan lacks decommissioning experts for Fukushima

TOKYO (AP - Japan is incapable of safely decommissioning the devastated Fukushima nuclear plant alone and must stitch together an international team for the massive undertaking, experts say, but has made only halting progress in that direction.



Unlike the US and some European countries, Japan has never decommissioned a full-fledged reactor. Now it must do so at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. Three of its six reactors melted down after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, making what is ordinarily a technically challenging operation even more complex.

The cloud over Japan’s capacity to get the decades-long job done has further undermined the image of the nuclear industry with the public. Opinion surveys show a majority of Japanese are opposed to restarting 50 reactors that were put offline for safety and other checks in the aftermath of the disaster. Japan has been forced to import oil and gas to meet its power needs, burdening its already feeble economy.

``Even for the US nuclear industry, such a cleanup and decommissioning would be a great challenge,’’ said Akira Tokuhiro, a University of Idaho professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering who is among those calling for a larger international role at Fukushima.


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