Monday, November 18, 2013

Fukushima Reactor 4 fuel rods removal operation

Update: A Tepco spokesperson told my office Monday morning Tokyo time about Fukushima reactor 4 that the extractions of the (uranium) fuel rods assemblies begin today (Nov 18 2013) from 3pm to 7pm. 22 assemblies to be put into to the cask, then technicians will put a lid on the cask, decontaminate the cask once it is out of the pool, carry it by crane down the 4th floor (30 m down) transport the cask by truck to the common pool 80 meters from reactor4. The whole first operation could take 1 week work.

Tepco confirmed me this morning on the phone that the removal of fuel rod units at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan starts this Monday Nov 18th. More information later this afternoon. It's the 1st critical step in decommissioning the facility in Fukushima Prefecture. Technicians will start removing uranium rods from Number 4 reactor pool. The pool holds 1,533 units of which 1,331 are highly radioactive spent fuel rod units and 202 that are unused.

Tepco plan to transfer the units into a heavy cask under water in the pool, then use a crane to lift out the cask and transfer it to an outside storage pool about 80 meters away behind the R4. In the morning an empty cask is lowered into the pool and the fuel rod units placed into it in the afternoon at the speed of 1 cm per second. The pool is still littered with small debris that could hamper smooth removal of the units.

Some say the job requires extreme caution as any damage to the fuel rod units or the cask (in case of falling) could cause high-level radiation while Tepco says it is not true. What is real is that any delay would seriously impair the decommissioning process of the 4 reactors that could take 4 decades. But for this operation, Tepco staff told me they plan to finish removing all the fuel rod units from the Number 4 reactor by the end of 2014 or early 2015 should difficulties happen. (screen shots nhk world)

Also check my news report at Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 4 "rods removal" on RTL France:

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