13 Juin 2016
An engineer with Tokyo Electric Power Co. explains how a massive cover will be built over the No. 3 reactor building of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant during a practice run at Onahama port in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on June 10. (Kenji Izawa)
June 13, 2016
By KENJI IZAWA/ Staff Writer
IWAKI, Fukushima Prefecture--A dress rehearsal is under way to install a huge "hat" over a crippled reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The bulky dome-shaped cover is meant to stop the spread of radioactive material and protect equipment necessary to retrieve 566 bundles of nuclear fuel rods from a storage pool in the No. 3 reactor building.
The simulation is designed to get workers fully drilled so they can set up the cover quickly, reducing the time they are exposed to radiation.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled plant, has started simulating the process at Onahama port in Iwaki.
On June 10, TEPCO invited reporters to witness part of the drill in which portions of the cover measuring about 18 meters high were moved on a rail for about 50 meters.
The No. 3 reactor building, where a meltdown occurred after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and resulting tsunami, still has an extremely high reading of radiation.
TEPCO plans to begin retrieving the fuel rods during fiscal 2017, starting in April next year.
The drill is expected to continue through this month to ensure there are no flaws in the working procedures and safety measures.
TEPCO plans to first decontaminate the No. 3 reactor building and put up shields so that radiation levels drop when the massive cover is installed.
The cover used in the drill will be dismantled and then shipped to the power plant for reassembly and use in the actual retrieval.