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USA-based engineering group Jacobs has been selected by Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) to support decommissioning efforts at its damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The announcement came as the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there had been "remarkable progress" in decommissioning the site.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at the Fukushima Daiichi plant earlier this week (Image: Tepco)

Under a five-year framework agreement, Jacobs will draw on deep domain knowledge and decades of experience on major US and UK nuclear sites to provide programme and project management services to Tepco's Fukushima Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Company.

The framework will address key challenges, such as treatment of contaminated water, decontaminated water release, used fuel, fuel debris and general site improvements.

Jacobs' involvement will include project management support, long-term decommissioning strategy planning, management and implementation of supply chain resources and programme definition for fuel debris retrieval.

Jacobs' specialists in Japan and the UK have been working with Tepco since 2016. Under this new framework, they will be embedded within the client's organisation to assist in further development of in-house decommissioning and engineering capabilities, which will assume responsibility for work previously contracted out.

"Drawing on important cultural aspects of our client relationship, effective communication and mutual understanding as well as our deep domain experience, we will deploy deep technical capabilities to deliver superior solutions," said Jacobs Senior Vice President for Energy, Security & Technology Karen Wiemelt. "Jacobs values this opportunity to create bespoke processes, embodying industry best practices, to advance the clean-up of the world's most complex nuclear decommissioning site for the benefit of future generations."

Tepco Chief Decommissioning Officer Akira Ono added: "We are pleased to have this agreement and are looking forward to the significant contribution that Jacobs can offer by providing Tepco with technology and knowledge gained from successful projects at Sellafield in the UK. This agreement is an opportunity to deepen our cooperation and proceed safely and steadily toward the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station."

According to Japan's mid and long-term roadmap towards decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi plant, decommissioning is scheduled to be completed within 30-40 years.

Grossi sees progress at site

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant on 18 May as part of a three-day visit to Japan. He observed the preparations for the discharge of treated water and noted the "remarkable progress on decommissioning at Fukushima Daiichi since my last visit two years ago."

The IAEA is committed to independently monitor the planned discharge of treated water into the sea at the plant and will provide regular assessments to the Japanese government and the international community, Grossi told Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo on 20 May.

"Japan has made significant progress in its preparations, and the IAEA Task Force is satisfied that Tepco and the Ministry for Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) have identified the appropriate next steps for the water discharge scheduled for 2023," Grossi said. "The IAEA is committed to providing a thorough safety review before, during and after the release of treated water and to carrying out our work in an objective and transparent manner.

"Looking ahead, the IAEA has many more activities planned - additional missions, independent sampling and analysis of the treated water and environmental samples to corroborate data from Japan, and the evaluation of workers' radiation exposure on site."

The IAEA Task Force is scheduled to conduct a second mission to Japan in the second half of 2022, which will follow up on Tepco and METI's progress on technical topics, as well as review the revised radiological environmental impact assessment.

"The continued scientific review and objective review by the IAEA regarding the discharge into the ocean is an extremely significant effort in order to gain an understanding for the public, both at home and abroad," Prime Minister Kishida said. "Japan intends to continue to respond with utmost transparency; we look forward to continue working with the IAEA."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Saturday, 21 May 2022
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