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article imageScary removal of Fukishima fuel rods begins

By Robert Weller     Nov 8, 2013 in Environment
Tokyo - Pressure to complete the unprecedented work is rising because of fears a new major earthquake could decimate Japan and threaten the U.S. West Coast .
The Japanese government says it will double the pay of workers at the Fukushima power station as removal of dangerous fuel rods begin.
The media has been full of reports that organized crime is controlling the work, and that a major new quake could destroy the island and force the evacuation of the West Coast of the U.S.
The Guardian reported the removal of more than 1,500 fuel assemblies from the pool is only the first step in a cleanup expected to last at least three decades.
Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan’s nuclear regulatory commission, said removal will be very dangerous and unlike any other because of debris that fell in the pool during earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
“It’s a totally different operation than removing normal fuel rods from a spent fuel pool. They need to be handled extremely carefully and closely monitored. You should never rush or force them out, or they may break,” he said at a news conference.
U.S. experts will be helping in the removal.
The work must be done because of the threat of further quakes.
Prominent Canadian scientist David Susuki has warned: “The fourth [reactor] has been so badly damaged that the fear is if there’s another earthquake of a 7 or above then that building will go and all hell breaks loose. If the fourth [reactor] goes under an earthquake and those rods are exposed, then it’s bye, bye, Japan and everybody on the west coast of North America should be evacuated. And if that isn’t terrifying, I don’t know what is.”
Late last month a 7.1 quake hit off the coast of Japan. There was no report of new damage, but there have been numerous reports of leaks of contaminated water into nearby soil and sea water.
Reuters reported the government will double the pay of workers at the site after the news agency reported pay was being skimmed off by contractors, some of whom had links to organized crime.
It has been no surprise there has been a shortage of workers applying for the cleanup job.
More about fukushima, Nuclear, fuel rods, Tsunami, Earthquake
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