18 Novembre 2014
November 16, 2014
Nov. 16, 2014 - Updated 22:01 UTC+1
Japanese researchers began the first full-scale simulation to develop a technology to remove high-level radioactive waste from nuclear power plants after it has been stored deep underground.
The test, which is aimed to push forward the selection of storage sites, began at a research institute in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo. The project is supported by the Japanese government.
The government plans to dispose of high-level radioactive waste by burying it deep underground.
Officials have been trying to find suitable storage sites for this plan.
Experts point out that it may become necessary to retrieve highly radioactive nuclear waste after it is stored underground in the event that new safety concerns arise, or if better disposal technologies are developed in the future.
The test uses mock waste that does not contain radioactive substances. It is buried 4 meters under a floor in a tunnel built inside the research site. It is covered with clay for protection.
Researchers will use 6 cameras to remotely conduct the test because at an actual storage site, workers would be exposed to high-levels of radiation.
They plan to use a hose to spray salt water to break up the clay around the nuclear waste and vacuum the waste with another hose.
The aim is to ease the safety concerns among the public so that the government can move forward with the selection of storage sites.
Other plans include storing nuclear waste inside a capsule and retrieving it with protective clay.
Experts will decide which plan is the best and most practical.
Hidekazu Asano is with the Radioactive Waste Management Funding and Research Center that is conducting the test.
He says that there are many arguments over how to handle nuclear waste, but he wants the public to feel safe by proving that nuclear waste can be retrieved with the technology now available.