Fukushima nuclear disaster

Japan looks abroad for proposals to dismantle Fukushima nuclear plant

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 October, 2013, 10:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 June, 2015, 3:58pm

Japan is to solicit proposals from both domestic and overseas nuclear experts and firms on how best to dismantle Fukushima's ruined reactors, officials said.

The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning would publicly seek ideas as early as this month, an institute official said.

While it is not putting the entire decommissioning process out to tender, the body's move will be welcomed by the global community, which has long called for Japan to make better use of available expertise around the world.

The institute, formed by nuclear-related firms and government-backed bodies in August to dismantle the broken reactors, would screen decommissioning proposals and take the results to the government, the official said.

"We will set up a website in both Japanese and English to notify interested parties at home and abroad of our calls for decommissioning ideas, so we can offer more useful and practical proposals to the government," the official said.

Japan's government has played an increasingly active role in the clean-up at Fukushima, where the March 2011 tsunami disabled cooling systems, sending reactors into meltdown.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which was effectively nationalised by a huge government cash injection to stop its bankruptcy, has come in for criticism over its handling of the disaster aftermath.

There have been frequent mishaps, including leaks of radiation-contaminated water and a power outage caused by a rat.

Tepco's own estimates suggest a full decommissioning could take up to four decades and that much of the trickier work has yet to be done - notably the removal of reactor cores that have probably melted.