Japan Nuclear Agency to Conduct 'Controlled Meltdown' of Reactor

The experiment is aimed at preventing disasters like Fukushima.

A Tokyo Electric Power Corp. official, center, stands in front of journalists at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in November 2013. Japanese researchers said they plan to conduct a controlled meltdown to study how to prevent similar disasters in the future.
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Scientists in Japan plan to conduct a controlled nuclear meltdown at a research facility to better learn how to prevent disasters such as the meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011.

Those meltdowns occurred after the plant was crippled by a devastating earthquake and tsunami, which together killed more than 20,000 people and displaced more than 300,000 others.

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The Japan Atomic Energy Agency will conduct the meltdown with a small research reactor in Tokai, about 80 miles northeast of Tokyo. It will take place sometime after the start of Japan's fiscal year in April, Channel News Asia reported.

Researchers "want to help improve the accuracy of the Fukushima accident analysis," Tomoyuki Sugiyama, a senior scientist at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, told the news website MSN Sankei.

"We want to study exactly how meltdowns happen and apply what we will learn to help improve ways to deal with severe accidents in the future," a spokesman told Agence France Presse.

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The announcement coincides with other news this week that another team of Japanese scientists reported finding 17 strains of microalgae, algae and plants could absorb and help remove some of the radioactive pollution from the waters around Fukushima Daiichi.

Cleanup in the area is expected to cost about $35 billion, Japan's Ministry of Energy said. Slated to be complete by March, the deadline has since been pushed back to 2017, the Japan Times reported.

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