Japan on Track under Nuclear Recovery Roadmap

July 28, 2011

On July 19, Japan moved to the next stage under its roadmap designed to bring the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station under control. The following is an opening statement by Mr. Goshi Hosono, Minister for the Restoration from and Prevention of Nuclear Accident and Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety, at a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on July 20.

Initial Target Achieved

The "Step 1" phase of the roadmap has been concluded and we have moved on to "Step 2." The revised roadmap is a consolidated version combining two roadmaps -- one drawn up by TEPCO and the other by the Government of Japan. Now that the radiation dose level that was a target for reduction initially under Step 1 has been on a steadily decreasing trend, we believe that we have been able to accomplish this target. In terms of specific numbers, our evaluation is that the current radiation dose has been cut down to a two millionth of the level immediately after the accident.

Aiming to Stabilize Coolant Injection/Circulation System

We believe that the greatest factor for the success in preventing the release of radioactive materials to the outside is the system of injecting and circulating coolant water that began to operate at a somewhat good rate in July. Over a period of three to six months from now, we intend to bring the reactors to the state of cold shutdown. To be more specific, we will seek to lower the temperature at the reactor bottom to less than 100 degrees centigrade and, as cold shutdowns are achieved, we intend to reduce the general public's exposure to radiation to 1 millisievert a year, which is the statutory exposure limit imposed on nuclear power plants in normal times. In order to bring about a situation like that, we will have to further stabilize the water injection and circulation system. What we currently have is a combination of systems provided by Kurion and Areva. In addition, we are considering putting to work a third system, of Toshiba, in early August.

Full-fledged Water-Processing System Planned

The roadmap shows you not just moving over to Step 2 but also beyond it. Specifically, we are planning to begin the designing and installation of underground-water shield walls in early autumn, even though we previously thought it a medium-term goal. As for the design of the walls, we are already in the process of looking into how the Government should be directly involved. At the same time, although I mentioned that the third system for water injection and circulation would be installed, we believe that water processing will probably have to be continued for quite some time, making it difficult to go on with the current temporarily constructed systems alone. Therefore, we intend to begin discussing introduction of a full-fledged water treatment system shortly.

Cooperation of International Community Needed

Meanwhile, aside from this roadmap, we will begin at the same time as this announcement to draw up another roadmap designed to decommission the nuclear reactors. To be more specific, the Atomic Energy Commission is set to soon begin discussing the process of taking out nuclear fuel, including molten fuel rods, from within the reactors and decommissioning the reactors to determine how long it will take and how it can be done.

We were able to conclude the Step 1 process with various support provided by the international community. Toward the medium- and long-term process from now on, we will also have to ask the international community for every sort of cooperation. On the other hand, however, it is Japan that will have to play the central role. We intend to muster all our energies, exercising all the power our country can mobilize, so that we will be able to resolve the problems.

Praise for Workers at Plant Site

Finally, I would like to emphasize that the people working on the spot are the ones who have made the greatest contribution to concluding Step 1. I understand how difficult it is to work in full gear, complete with the face mask, in a highly radioactive, unforgiving environment. I am truly thankful for the Japanese people working in the severe environment, and am very proud of them as a Japanese myself. The Government is totally accountable for the management of their health and exposure to radioactivity, and expects to take whatever measures necessary. We will most likely face a whole variety of difficulties in future. However, if we could fully support the workers and take advantage of the organizational power that we have exercised, I am sure we will be able to overcome whatever difficulties lying ahead.

  1. Attachment 1: Current Status of "Roadmap towards Reconstruction from the Accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, TEPCO" by TEPCO [PDF]
  2. Attachment 2: Main Points of the Progress Status of the "Roadmap for Immediate Actions for the Assistance of Residents Affected by the Nuclear Incident" by Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters [PDF]

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