Removal of fuel at Fukushima's melted reactor begins

Al Jazeera

The operator of the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant has begun removing fuel from a cooling pool at one of three reactors that melted down in the 2011 disaster, a milestone in the decades-long process to decommission the plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said on Monday that workers started removing the first of 566 used and unused fuel units stored in the pool at Unit 3. The fuel units in the pool located high up in reactor buildings are intact despite the disaster, but the pools are not enclosed so removing the units to safer ground is crucial to avoid disaster in case of another major quake. Tepco said the removal at Unit 3 would take two years, followed by the two other reactors. The step comes ahead of the real challenge of removing melted fuel from inside the reactors, but details of how that might be done are still largely unknown. Removing the fuel in the cooling pools was delayed five years by mishaps, high radiation and radioactive debris from an explosion that occurred at the time of the reactor meltdown, underscoring the difficulties that remain.


Fukushima: removal of nuclear fuel rods from damaged reactor building begins

Guardian Energy

Workers at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have begun removing fuel rods from a storage pool near one of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns eight years ago. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said on Monday that work had begun to remove the first of 566 used and unused fuel assemblies in reactor building No 3. The measure marks a milestone in efforts to decommission the plant, although the more critical removal of melted fuel from inside three damaged reactors will prove far more difficult. The fuel rods stored in unit No 3's cooling pool were not damaged in the 2011 disaster, when a powerful earthquake and tsunami knocked out Fukushima Daiichi's backup power supply and triggered the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, 25 years earlier. Tepco said the operation to remove the fuel rods, which are in uncovered pools, would take two years, adding that transferring them to safer ground would better protect them in the event of another catastrophic earthquake.


Toshiba unveils robot to probe melted Fukushima nuclear...

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Toshiba unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel. The device is designed to slide down an extendable 11-meter (36-foot) long pipe and touch melted fuel inside the Unit 2 reactor's primary containment vessel. The reactor was built by Toshiba and GE. An earlier probe carrying a camera captured images of pieces of melted fuel in the reactor last year, and robotic probes in the two other reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel, but the exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown. Toshiba unveiled the device carrying tongs that comes out of a long telescopic pipe for an internal probe in one of three damaged reactor chambers at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant - this time to touch chunks of melted fuel Toshiba's energy systems unit said experiments with the new probe planned in February are key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process expected to take decades.


More melted nuclear fuel found inside a Fukushima reactor

Daily Mail - Science & tech

More melted fuel has been found at the bottom of the Fukushima power planet, seven years after Japan's worst nuclear disaster.


Toshiba unveils robot with tongs to probe melted Fukushima nuclear fuel

The Japan Times

YOKOHAMA - Toshiba Corp. unveiled a remote-controlled robot with tongs on Monday that it hopes will be able to probe the inside of one of the three damaged reactors at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant and grip chunks of highly radioactive melted fuel. The device is designed to slide down an extendable 11-meter (36-foot) long pipe and touch melted fuel inside reactor 2's primary containment vessel. The reactor was built by Toshiba and GE. An earlier probe carrying a camera captured images of pieces of melted fuel in the reactor last year, and robotic probes in the two other reactors have detected traces of damaged fuel, but the exact location, contents and other details remain largely unknown. Toshiba's energy systems unit said experiments with the new probe planned in February are key to determining the proper equipment and technologies needed to remove the fuel debris, the most challenging part of the decommissioning process expected to take decades.