A view of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture. File photo/Reuters
Japan’s nuclear regulator plans to reinvestigate the Fukushima disaster, in which three reactors at an atomic power plant run by Tokyo Electric Power melted down after an earthquake and tsunami eight years ago, it said on Wednesday.
The March 2011 disaster led to explosions and the meltdown of the three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station north of the capital, Tokyo, spewing radiation that forced 160,000 people to flee, many never to return.
In its investigation, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) will seek to establish where radiation is leaking from damaged reactor containment vessels, a paper it released showed.
It will also look at cooling systems set up to keep the melted fuel in the reactors from overheating, it said.
A spokesman for the utility, contacted by Reuters by telephone, could not immediately comment.
The disaster led to the eventual shutdown of all Japan’s reactors, which before the disaster had supplied about 30 per cent of the electricity in the world’s third-largest economy.
Several investigations since have looked into the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
One of them concluded that Fukushima "was a profoundly manmade disaster - that could and should have been foreseen and prevented, (while) its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response."
In 2016, the government estimated the total cost of plant dismantling, decontamination of affected areas, and compensation would be 21.5 trillion yen ($199 billion), or about a fifth of Japan’s annual budget.
Japan will for the first time next month lift an evacuation order in one of two towns where the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is located, officials said on Tuesday.
Tokyo Electric Power plans to allow overseas workers coming to Japan under a new visa programme to work on the cleanup of its wrecked Fukushima nuclear power station north of Tokyo, a spokeswoman said on Friday.
The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima power plant on Monday began removing atomic fuel from inside a building housing one of the reactors that melted down in 2011.
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