12 Mars 2015
March 11, 2015
Mar. 11, 2015 - Updated 13:24 UTC+1
Experts tasked with developing ways to decommission the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are examining a new method to remove molten fuel from the damaged reactors.
Nuclear fuel in 3 of the plant's 6 reactors melted down in the March 2011 accident. Experts believe some of it penetrated the reactor cores and is sitting at the bottom of the containment vessels.
Officials of the government-backed Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation had planned to fill the vessels with water to block extremely high radiation when retrieving the fuel.
But they say holes and other damage to the vessels have yet to be identified. The water method would be difficult without knowing where the holes are.
The officials say an alternative approach is to make an opening in the side of a containment vessel and remove the fuel without filling it with water. They are mulling this process for No.1 reactor where most of fuel is likely at the bottom of the vessel.
The radiation would reach levels resulting in human death quickly if no protective measures were taken. Remote-controlled robots and technology to block radiation would need to be developed.
Officials aim to come up with a new plan as early as the end of March, including different options for numbers 2 and 3 reactors.