There was a recent report in Salon about the Japanese experience with decommissioning, which is a necessary step in Fukushima. There has never been a plant decommissioned in Japan, and the experience is zero:
The government-funded Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, which is to be folded into the regulatory authority to beef up its expertise, has one expert on decommissioning, a person who studies overseas regulations on the process. The group mainly helps with routine nuclear plant inspections, but since the 2011 catastrophe has been involved with bringing the Fukushima plant under control.
In contrast, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has 10 people devoted to decommissioning including four project managers, four health physicists, and a hydro-geologist. It says it has the equivalent of more than 200 years of experience in decommissioning and has overseen the termination of 11 power reactors and 13 research reactors.
It is hard to imagine that there is only a single person with experience on decommissioning, and his experience is limited to regulatory issues. I hate to ask, but… how well did he do in his time abroad? Was he top notch, or did he struggle? Such a burden of responsibilities.
- Japan Lacks Decommissioning Experts for Fukushima (abcnews.go.com)
- Japan lacks decommissioning experts for Fukushima (fukushimaupdate.com)
- Japan Lacks Decommissioning Experts For Fukushima (npr.org)