30 Juillet 2015
July 29, 2015
Jul. 29, 2015 - Updated 23:55 UTC+2
Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Sunday will start the removal of a fuel exchanger inside the Number 3 reactor building. The 20-ton device fell into the fuel pool during the 2011 disaster.
The device has since been a major obstacle for workers at Tokyo Electric Power Company in the start of removal of extremely radioactive rubble left in the storage pool. 566 fuel rods remain inside the spent fuel pool.
Workers cannot directly take part in the process as the site is highly radioactive. The work will require 2 remote-controlled cranes that will lift and remove the device, which is some 14 meters long.
The work poses a challenge as spent fuel may suffer damage if the device falls back into the pool during removal.
Workers accidentally dropped a 400-kilogram device into the pool last August. Though none of the rods suffered damage, removal was postponed for 4 months.
TEPCO has been preparing for the removal by developing equipment tailored to grip the device. Cushions have also been placed on top of the fuel rods.
TEPCO officials say all other work to decommission the plant will be suspended while the removal takes place as a hydrogen explosion in 2011 left the pool without a roof.