January 9, 2014
Japanese nuclear scientists say they plan to create a controlled nuclear meltdown looking for clues how to deal with possible future disasters.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday said it will use a scaled-down nuclear reactor to deliberately create conditions of a serious malfunction. The experiment will start later this year at a research facility in Ibaraki, north of Tokyo.
Meltdowns occur when the nuclear fuel in the reactor's core, normally very hot in order to create steam for turbines that create electricity, overheats beyond its melting point. This can cause explosion and release of radioactive material, as has happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011, after it was hit by an earthquake and tsunami.
Since that accident the Japanese public has become much more interested in the prevention of future accidents with increasing calls for more safety.
Similar tests have been conducted by all major nations with nuclear power plants, including the U.S., but never in Japan.