Skip to main content
Advertising

Originally published November 17, 2013 at 9:55 PM | Page modified November 18, 2013 at 12:06 AM

  • Share:
           
  • Comments (0)
  • Print

Japan nuclear plant to begin removing fuel rods

Workers have started removing radioactive fuel rods Monday from one of four reactors at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The painstaking and risky task is a crucial first step toward a full cleanup of the earthquake and tsunami-damaged plant in northeastern Japan.


Associated Press

Most Popular Comments
Hide / Show comments
No comments have been posted to this article.
Start the conversation >

advertising

TOKYO —

Workers have started removing radioactive fuel rods Monday from one of four reactors at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The painstaking and risky task is a crucial first step toward a full cleanup of the earthquake and tsunami-damaged plant in northeastern Japan.

Unit 4 was offline at the time of the March 2011 disaster, and its core didn't melt down as the other three did. Two other reactors that were offline have also survived. But hydrogen explosions blew the roof and walls off the Unit 4 building and weakened the structure, leaving it vulnerable to earthquakes.

Tokyo Electric, known as TEPCO, has since reinforced the building, but experts say keeping so many fuel rods in a storage pool in the building still poses a major safety risk.

TEPCO has built a massive steel structure next to and partly over Unit 4 to mount cranes for the operation. It will take at least until the end of 2014 to finish moving the 1,533 sets of fuel rods, including 202 unused sets, to a safer location. Each set includes about 60-80 rods.

To ensure safety, TEPCO will remove the unused fuel first, and will move on to more radioactive spent fuel. The pool also keeps three sets of fuel rods that had been slightly damaged at the very end.

TEPCO spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida said the plant has started pulling up the first fuel assembly. So far, no problem has been reported, she said.

The operation is delicate. Experts say the fuel rod sets may have been damaged or jammed by small pieces of debris that fell into the pool during the explosions. Some have also raised concern about a major earthquake hitting during the removal work.

The full decommissioning of the plant is expected to take decades.



News where, when and how you want it

Email Icon

Meet the winemakers

Meet the winemakers

View video interviews, conducted by The Seattle Times wine writer Andy Perdue, profiling five of our state's top winemakers.

Advertising

Partner Video

Advertising

Career Center Blog

Career Center Blog

The power of good manners


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►