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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

Starting on unspent fuel

November 21, 2014

TEPCO starts transferring remaining unspent fuel from Fukushima No. 4 reactor



The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has started removing unspent nuclear fuel from a storage pool at the No. 4 reactor building, which was heavily damaged by an explosion following the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Nov. 20 it plans to transfer 180 unspent fuel assemblies stored in the pool to the No. 6 reactor building by the end of December.

On Nov. 18, workers packed 22 such assemblies into a transportation cask and started preparations to transfer it to the site, company officials said.

When the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, the No. 4 reactor was offline for routine inspections. In the days following, the reactor building was blown apart in a hydrogen explosion. A total of 1,535 fuel assemblies--1,331 spent and 204 unspent--were stored in a pool in the upper part of the building.

In November 2013, TEPCO began full-fledged work to remove the nuclear fuel assemblies in the No. 4 reactor storage pool. It transferred all of the spent fuel, which continues emitting heat and high levels of radiation, as well as 24 unspent assemblies, to a common pool on the plant premises by Nov. 5.

The completion of the work marked the end of one of the most difficult phases of preparations for decommissioning the No. 4 reactor, diminishing the risk posed by the fuel.

TEPCO had said it would be transferring the remaining unspent fuel to the No. 6 reactor building, which suffered relatively minor damage in the disaster, as the common storage pool has been filled to capacity.

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