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Robot to be used to capture images of fuel in reactors

January 2, 2016

TEPCO to tackle removal of molten nuclear fuel


Jan. 2, 2016 - Updated 17:10 UTC

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is expected to take on the challenge of removing the molten fuel from reactors that suffered meltdowns in 2011.

Soon it will be nearly five years since the massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear accident at the plant.

Workers have not been able to determine the extent of damage or find the molten fuel at the No.1, 2 and 3 reactors. Experts believe some of the fuel penetrated the reactor cores and is sitting at the bottom of the respective containment vessels.

TEPCO officials will bring in a remote-controlled robot that can withstand extremely high radiation levels to capture images of the fuel at the No. 2 reactor as early as next month. A similar undertaking is to take place at the No. 1 reactor.

The officials will then decide ways to remove the fuel. Filling the reactor containment vessels with water before extracting it is one option to shield workers from the intense radiation.

TEPCO's Chief Decommissioning Officer Naohiro Masuda says removing the fuel is their final goal.
He added that finding its whereabouts would be a big step toward decommissioning the plant.

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