27 Septembre 2017
September 26, 2017
3-year delay in removal of fuel rods from Fukushima plant
By CHIKAKO KAWAHARA/ Staff Writer
The government on Sept. 26 revised its long-term plan to decommission the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, citing high levels of radiation.
It said the three-year delay concerns the removal of spent fuel rods kept in storage pools at the No. 1 and 2 reactor buildings and will not affect the overall plan to fully dismantle the facility within 30 to 40 years.
A committee of Cabinet ministers involved in the process met Sept. 26 and approved the changes submitted by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the Fukushima plant.
The decommissioning road map was last revised in June 2015.
The spent fuel storage pool in the No. 1 reactor building holds 392 fuel assemblies, while the pools in the No. 2 and No. 3 pools contain 615 and 566 assemblies, respectively.
The upper part of the No. 1 reactor building was destroyed in a hydrogen explosion, spreading rubble and debris throughout the building. Studies earlier this year showed that radiation levels within the building are still high.
The No. 2 reactor building was not damaged, but decontamination work within the building is expected to take longer than initially expected.
For those reasons, the start of removal of the fuel rods from the No. 1 and 2 reactor storage pools will be put off until fiscal 2023.
The start of removal of fuel rods from the No. 3 reactor storage pool remains unchanged from fiscal 2018.
It was decided in February 2017 to delay the start of work from fiscal 2017 by one year. Work to remove melted nuclear fuel from the three reactors' containment vessels will also be delayed.
Remote-controlled robots have been used since the start of the year to study the interior of the vessels, but the state of the melted fuel has only partially been determined.
Further studies will be carried out to assess the dangers.
There is no change as yet in the plan to begin removing melted fuel from one of the three reactors before the end of 2021.
But a decision on which reactor to work on first will be delayed until fiscal 2019. At that time, the specifics of how to accomplish the removal work will also be decided. It was initially envisaged that these two points would be thought through in the first half of fiscal 2018.
TEPCO to delay emptying fuel storage pools at Fukushima plant
By CHIKAKO KAWAHARA/ Staff Writer
September 21, 2017 at 14:05 JST
Plans to remove fuel rods from two spent fuel pools at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be delayed by up to three years because of difficulties in clearing debris and reducing radiation levels.
The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. originally expected to start emptying the storage pools at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor buildings in fiscal 2020.
But they plan to move the starting time to fiscal 2023 in their first review in two years of the roadmap for decommissioning the stricken nuclear plant, sources said Sept. 20.
They are expected to announce the revised roadmap later this month.
A survey of the upper levels of the two reactor buildings, where the storage pools are located, found debris piled up in a much more complicated way than initially envisaged.
That will lengthen the time needed to clear the debris, thus delaying the removal of the fuel rods, the sources said.
In addition, radiation levels remain extremely high inside the buildings.
The No. 1 reactor’s storage pool holds 392 nuclear fuel assemblies, while the No. 2 reactor’s pool has 615 assemblies.
Work to remove the 566 assemblies from the No. 3 reactor’s pool is scheduled to begin in the middle of fiscal 2018 as originally planned.
The three reactors melted down in the 2011 disaster, triggered by the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
The review of the decommissioning roadmap is also expected to revise the target of “starting the removal” of melted nuclear fuel and debris in the three reactors in 2021 to “aiming to start the removal” in 2021.
But the government and TEPCO will maintain the goal of completing the decommissioning in “30 to 40 years,” the sources said.