NAMIE, Fukushima Prefecture–Work got under way here on Nov. 21 to demolish and remove ships that were wrecked and swept inland by the tsunami generated by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.
Seventy abandoned ships, mostly fishing boats, still remain in evacuation zones around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
Workers were seen Nov. 21 using cranes to remove cabins and structures from the ships’ main decks as the first step in the dismantling process.
The vessels have been left untouched for more than three and a half years since evacuation orders were issued soon after the Fukushima nuclear accident unfolded.
The work is being led by the Environment Ministry. The ministry’s environmental restoration office in Fukushima said that 62 boats are in Namie, six in Tomioka and one each in Minami-Soma and Naraha. All are expected to be dismantled and removed from the premises by the end of March.
Many of the abandoned vessels are rusting away and have corroded reinforced plastic parts. Some have weeds growing on them.
New Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori, who was elected in October, assumed the governorship on Nov. 12 and reported to work at the prefectural government office. Uchibori, 50, said he will start drawing up the third prefectural reconstruction plan and a future vision for 12 municipalities, including eight Futaba County towns and villages, where evacuation zones have been set up. The move will be part of efforts to reconstruct the prefecture battered by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the subsequent accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
In his first press conference at the prefectural government office, Uchibori said recovery from the nuclear disaster is the most important issue. “I will steadily take various measures for disaster areas and evacuees that suffered from the nuclear disaster,” he said. The governor added that he plans to put into motion by the end of this year work on compiling the future vision which will indicate a medium- to long-term set of reconstruction measures for the 12 municipalities.
The prefectural government will play a central role in blueprinting the vision together with the central government and related municipalities. The vision is expected to include the establishment of footholds for evacuees’ homecoming, a “Fukushima Innovation Coast” scheme designed to turn the prefecture’s coastal region into a leading-edge R&D hub, and measures to step up industrial recovery.
The governor said he plans to put together both the future vision and the third prefectural reconstruction plan sometime in fiscal 2015 that begins next April.
Work to remove spent nuclear fuel from the No.4 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in Fukushima Prefecture has been completed. This was made known on Nov. 1 by industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa following his first visit to the plant since assuming the Cabinet post three weeks ago.
“I was told that work to remove all spent fuel rods and put them into casks had been completed successfully,” Miyazawa told a press conference at the J-Village facility which, straddling Naraha and Hirono towns, is used as a base camp for workers at the plant. “We still face difficult challenges, but we have thus far proceeded at a steady pace.”
According to TEPCO, all 1,533 fuel rods in a storage pool inside a building housing the No.4 reactor are scheduled to be shipped to another pool in the premises of the plant within this year. On the day of Miyazawa’s visit, TEPCO moved the last 10 rods into casks for storage. There are 180 less radioactive unused rods. They will be moved to a storage pool for the No. 6 reactor, which was unscathed by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011.