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Fukushima nuclear debris removal to begin in 2021

1111111.jpg(Photo taken in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 10, 2018, shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.)

December 3, 2019

Japan on Monday unveiled a revised plan to remove molten nuclear fuel debris from the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi power plant in 2021, a process said to be the biggest hurdle in the cleanup of the devastated facility.

The debris removal work should start at the plant’s No. 2 reactor, according to the medium- to long-term road map released by the government.

The plan also called for completing the removal of 4,741 fuel rods left inside the pools of Nos. 1 to 6 units by 2031, giving a specific time frame for the first time.

“As more people return and rebuilding progresses in the areas around the Daiichi plant, we will take measures based on the basic principle of balancing rebuilding and decommissioning,” said industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama, who heads the government team tasked with decommissioning.

(Photo taken in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 10, 2018, shows the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant )

The plan, revised for the fifth time, maintained the outlook of completing the decommissioning of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. in 30 to 40 years following the nuclear meltdowns triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

But given issues that have halted work and caused delays so far, it remains uncertain whether the plan will proceed as scheduled.

The No. 2 unit was in operation when the crisis began and some fuel has apparently melted through the reactor pressure vessel that holds the fuel and accumulated at the bottom of the outer primary containment vessel.

Among the three reactors that experienced core meltdowns, the reactor building housing the No. 2 unit did not suffer hydrogen explosions. The radiation levels near the reactor containment vessel are also estimated to be lower than others.

Prior to removing the nuclear debris, an earlier plan called for taking samples from the reactor within fiscal 2019 ending in March, but the revised plan states it will be done in time for the 2021 removal, and the removal to expand to 2031.

Removal of spent fuel has already begun at some of the reactors as they need to be cooled to avert melting. The fuel, including some unspent fuel, which is currently being stored inside respective pools, need to be taken to a common pool to be stored stably, although its final destination is yet to be decided.

All fuel has been removed from the pool of No. 4, which was being halted for a regular checkup at the time of the crisis, and the removal of fuel from No. 3 began in April. The same work will begin at Nos. 1 and 2 in fiscal 2023, according to the latest plan.

December 8, 2019 - Posted by | fukushima 2019 | ,

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