Tokyo: Japan said on Wednesday that decommissioning
the tsunami-wrecked reactors at Fukushima could take as long
as 40 years, with melted nuclear fuel possibly stuck where it
is for a quarter of a century.
A roadmap produced by the government and plant operator
Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) envisages engineers will use much
of the next 10 years just trying to work out how to get at the
fuel, which has partly eaten through its containment vessels.
Underlining the challenges involved in dealing with the
disaster, the plan says that as-yet uninvented technology will
be key to safely disposing of the waste left behind by the
world`s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
"Each and every one of the steps toward decommissioning
currently poses many technological challenges," said Goshi
Hosono, the government minister with responsibility for
dealing with the Fukushima disaster.
"We expected extremely difficult work to remove fuel
debris (from the reactors). We must accelerate work to develop
technologies, particularly remote control robots," he told
"We will gradually make progress by assessing both the
situation on site and the state of research and development
work," he said.
The unveiling of the plan comes days after Prime Minister
Yoshihiko Noda announced the stricken reactors on Japan`s
tsunami-ravaged northeast coast had reached a state of "cold