Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said Sunday it has removed all 566 nuclear fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool of the No. 3 reactor at its Fukushima No. 1 plant. It is the first time that fuel removal has been completed for any of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in the March 2011 accident at the plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The fuel removal operation at the No. 3 reactor began in April 2019. On Sunday, the company using remote control devices moved the last six assemblies to a common storage facility within the plant premises. A large covering was placed over the upper part of the No. 3 reactor building to prevent radioactive substances from being scattered.
A government-backed organization in charge of supporting the decommissioning of nuclear plants is considering to propose starting the removal of melted nuclear fuel debris beginning with the No. 2 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, officials said Thursday. Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., or NDF, believes that the No. 2 unit is the most suitable for melted fuel removal work among the three heavily damaged reactors based on the results of its investigation into radiation levels at the reactors and the conditions inside them. In January 2018, Tepco confirmed deposits of melted nuclear fuel debris inside the No. 2 reactor containment vessel of the plant in Fukushima that was damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. In February this year, the company made physical contact with the deposits using equipment, making much more progress in investigating the No. 2 reactor than the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors. Tepco plans to further investigate the inside of the No. 2 reactor by the end of March next year, aiming to collect sample debris.
A state-backed entity is expected to soon compile a plan for decommissioning the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, unveiling how to extract fuel debris from three reactors for the first time, sources said Tuesday. The Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp., tasked with providing technical support for decommissioning the complex, may propose a method to remove nuclear debris without fully filling their reactor containment structures with water, the sources said. It means the debris inside reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 complex is likely to be shaved off gradually with a drill or laser equipment, while pouring a water shower under a remotely controlled operation, the sources said. A method to fulfill reactor containers with water first is effective in blocking radiation from spreading but the entity decided not to adopt the approach as the three reactor containers are believed to have been damaged and water would probably leak out. Under the method the entity currently envisions, some debris would remain in the air during the operation so a major challenge facing the debris extraction work is how to shield from radiation and prevent debris from flying off.