Feature

Slow burn

Science  04 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6277, pp. 1018-1020
DOI: 10.1126/science.351.6277.1018

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Summary

Five years after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that swamped the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan and led to multiple reactor meltdowns, the electric utility that owns the plant is just in the early stages of a decades-long, $9 billion decommissioning effort. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), with governmental support, is developing new technologies and advancing robotics as it struggles to find the melted fuel so it can plot a strategy to recover the debris. Meanwhile, the most pressing concern is storing and treating groundwater that seeps onto the site and picks up radionuclides. Now, 750,000 tons of water is stored on site. TEPCO is trying various schemes to reduce groundwater infiltration while evaluating new techniques for decontaminating the water.

  • * With reporting by Timothy Hornyak.