Tepco starts installing device to remove fuel assemblies at wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant


Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Sunday began installing equipment to be used for removing fuel from the storage pool at a reactor at its disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The equipment, weighing 72 tons, was lifted up to the upper part of the plant’s No. 3 reactor using two large cranes.

The pool, located on a floor 36 meters above the ground, holds a total of 566 spent and unused nuclear fuel assemblies. Tepco plans to begin removing the fuel from the storage pool in the middle of fiscal 2018.

The installation work was originally slated to start Saturday, but was postponed due to strong winds.

With the device, the fuel assemblies will be moved from the pool to sturdy containers, which will be tightly sealed to block any emissions of strong radiation.

The work will be conducted in the water-filled pool, and then the containers will be then lowered to the ground using a different crane and transferred to another pool some distance from the reactor, where they will be stored.

The building housing the No. 3 reactor was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion that occurred shortly after the power station was knocked out by the tsunami following the magnitude 9 earthquake in March 2011.

After debris from the blast was removed from the upper part of the No. 3 reactor, Tepco started work in late July this year to install a cover on top of the reactor to shield the fuel-removing equipment from weather damage and prevent radioactive materials from spreading.

The crane to be used for lowering the fuel containers to the ground is slated to be installed in the upper part of the reactor on Nov. 20.

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