Tepco Begins Removing Cover From Destroyed Fukushima Reactor Just As Local Farmers Plant Rice

May is usually the time when farmers in Japan's Fukushima prefecture - best known for being the tragic venue of the 2011 Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant disaster - plant rice. This year, however, they will be planting something else: an unknown, and quite lethal, amount of radioactive dust.

According to EFE, earlier today TEPCO began work to remove the cover placed over the building housing reactor No. 1, a key step towards dismantling the plant. The work is part of a preparatory process that could take several years for the eventual removal of nuclear fuel from the spent fuel pool in the No. 1 reactor building. The cover, incidentally, was made of polyester.

The "cover" did not contain the radiation which clearly can cross a polyester membrane without difficulty: it merely prevented the radioactive dust from spreading all over the surrounding country. It was placed over the radioactive tomb some time before Tepco conceived of and then gave up on the idiotic and impractical idea of encasing the radioactive disaster zone in a wall of ice.

The proposed process was detailed at the time by the Mail:

A computer image shows how engineers will construct a cover around the damaged No.1 reactor

As Asahi Shimbun summarizes, on the first day of the work, TEPCO sprayed a chemical agent in the reactor building to prevent radioactive dust in the building from being released into the air when the cover is removed. Of course, the whole point of the cover was to prevent said radioactive dust from being released, so one can be excused if one is skeptical about the official narrative, especially since this is a narrative in which the Japanese government, and Tepco, have been caught lying about the radioactive disaster on more occasions than even the USSR did about Chernobyl.

On May 15, a large crane lifted a spraying machine to insert a thin, long nozzle into the building through holes created on the top cover to spray a glue-like chemical to inhibit radioactive dust from spreading into the air.

This process will be repeated at 48 locations in the polyester lining over the next week, before its removal commences, a process which will take more than a year, as TEPCO begins retracting the roof cover on May 25 at the earliest to remove debris from the upper part of the building.

When the utility was removing debris from the No. 3 reactor building in the summer of 2013, a large amount of radioactive substances was released into the environment, fostering the public's distrust in the process. It also put TEPCO and the government in a corner: do nothing and prevent the further spread of radioactive dust, or take steps to mitigating the disaster and removing the radioactive nuclear fuel in the reactor building, while risking another major radioactive contamination.

TEPCO had initially announced the removal process would begin in July 2014, but then delayed it after radioactive material was detected in rice paddies near the plant.  The spread of material was apparently caused by dust that rose during the removal of rubble surrounding reactor No. 3. TEPCO then devised this complex process to avoid a repetition of that incident.

Considering the "proficiency" and skills of TEPCO's engineering corps who have been humiliated in every step of the containment process, one can be certain the radioactive contamination is about be repeated and rice paddies in the vicinity are about to be irradiated once more because as EFE notes, it is currently rice planting season around the Fukushima plant. Fear not: TEPCO has pledged to suspend its work and inform surrounding local governments within 30 minutes when amounts of released dust and radiation exceed certain levels.

Since prior criminal performance and historical lying isn't a predictor of future gamma radiation levels, we are confident TEPCO will do just as pledged.