13 Juillet 2012
July 13, 2012
TEPCO to remove rods from No.4 fuel pool
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will soon start test runs for removing fuel rods from a storage pool of the No. 4 reactor.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on Thursday approved safety measures for the removal procedure drawn up by Tokyo Electric Power Company.
The reactor's fuel pool contains 1,535 fuel rods -- the highest number at the plant.
TEPCO's trial run is part of efforts to decommission the plant. The test will involve removing 2 unused rods from the pool.
A crane will be used to pull each of the 2 rods out of the pool, and then place them in a special container on the 5th floor of the reactor building.
The container will prevent the fuel from going critical.
Another crane will lower the container to the ground, where a truck will take it to a facility called a "common pool."
Using an underwater camera, workers will first measure the radiation of the fuel rods. This is to ensure that they do not choose highly-radioactive spent fuel for the test run. Four cables will be used to prevent the container from falling.
TEPCO will also check if there's any damage to the metal container used to store the fuel rods. This is a concern because seawater was used to cool the reactor after last year's accident.
TEPCO says it cannot reveal the date of the test for security reasons.
Full-scale removal of the rods is scheduled to begin sometime next year.
Concerns have been raised about the state of the reactor building and the fuel pool.