Tokyo Electric Power Co. has found possible nuclear fuel debris below the No. 2 reactor at Fukushima No. 1 power plant which was hit by meltdowns after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, public broadcaster NHK reported Monday. Tepco detected a black lump directly below the reactor during an inspection by camera Monday morning but cannot yet confirm what it is, a spokesman said. The spokesman said Tepco is investigating and will announce its assessment at a regularly scheduled news conference on Monday evening.
The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. decided Tuesday to further delay the removal of spent nuclear fuel left near two of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. In the road map for decommissioning the plant, revised for the fourth time since it was first crafted in 2011, highly radioactive spent fuel will be extracted from the cooling pools of reactors 1 and 2 starting in fiscal 2023 instead of fiscal 2020. The decision marks the third delay for the removal plan, with the last adjustment coming in June 2015. The government said new technical issues and the need to take safety precautions led to the latest change. The cleanup process is set to be completed in around 30 to 40 years.
In the midst of an extensive cleanup operation, workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan were finally able to shed the heavy protective gear they've needed for six years. Workers were able to wear regular uniforms at about 95 percent of the site, the Japan Times reported Saturday. Officials from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (Tepco), the company responsible for the plant's decommissioning, invited a group of reporters to tour the power plant grounds in recent weeks. About 7,000 employees have worked to remove radioactive debris, cover the tainted soil with nonporous materials like mortar and move tainted water to secure tanks to reduce radiation. "Our near-term goal is to create a place where they can work without worries," said Daisuke Hirose, a spokesman for Tepco's decommissioning body, Fukushima No. 1 Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., told the Japan Times.
Tokyo's utility company discovered Monday what it suspects could be nuclear fuel debris inside of a reactor at its destroyed Fukushima plant in Japan. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has led efforts to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after three of its reactors melted down in 2011 following a massive magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami that killed over 15,000 people and caused the world's worst nuclear disaster since Ukraine's Chernobyl explosion in 1986. The company discovered black lumps resembling a substance that had melted and stuck to the steel of the No. 2 reactor. "This is a big step forward as we have got some precious data for the decommissioning process, including removing the fuel debris," said an official quoted by Reuters. Yuichi Okamura, the general manager of Tepco's nuclear power and plant siting division, said the anomalies were still "difficult to identify," according to The Japan Times.
The device nicknamed "Little Sunfish" found melted clumps of material that could be the fuel debris it was sent to locate, according to updates Friday. No radiation-related deaths have been reported, but nearly 100,000 homes had to be evacuated in the aftermath of the disaster. Six years later, the homes remain deserted. But underwater robots could be the key to decontaminating the area and making it habitable again. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns the Fukushima nuclear plant, has been using robots mounted with cameras to explore the site, often losing them to radiation damage or challenging terrain.