National Nuclear Laboratory

Gas Generation of Waste Fukushima Daiichi

Following the devastating tsunami in 2011, resulting in the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, the on-site teams were on a steep learning curve, going from the safe management of a stable nuclear power plant to the swift accumulation of new knowledge in a quickly changing

The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan

Several years on, challenges remain at Fukushima Daiichi and the Japanese team frequently looks to the rest of the world for best practice when handling them.

This was the case when the Fukushima team approached NNL for advice on handling gas generation when disposing of waste. In the past, their waste did not generate gas but following the accident, the site team had to deal with new and unfamiliar kinds of waste. The generation of hydrogen from
the waste presented a particular problem, due to the high combustibility of the gas.

NNL was invited to pitch alongside teams from France and the USA through Japanese third party companies to share knowledge and best practice on how best to deal with this tricky issue. Using our wealth of experience and knowledge, we were able to put together a detailed report that highlighted the issues and possible solutions. We held a series of meetings with operational and technical leads, including the presentation of the information and educational lectures.

Our NNL team presented so strongly, we were invited to take on a bigger role in phase two, an ongoing project to explain in more detail what we would do with those wastes if they were generated in the UK. Using our proven track record and expert knowledge, we are supporting the Fukushima team in lobbying for a change in the law that will let them use vented packages of waste (so gas can escape, instead of building up and increasing the risk of explosion).

Currently, vented packages of waste are not allowed in Japan, though they are common practice in the UK and USA.

Through this project, NNL is making a tangible difference to nuclear technology on a global scale and cementing our reputation as world leaders in the industry.