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KEPCO begins to insert nuclear fuel into No. 4 reactor at Takahama plant

A fuel rod is transferred through water to the No. 4 reactor building at Takahama Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture, on Jan. 31, 2016. (Pool photo)

Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) began on Jan. 31 to insert fuel rods into the No. 4 reactor at its Takahama Nuclear Power Plant in preparation to restart the unit, company officials said.

    The move follows the resumption of operations at the plant's No. 3 reactor on Jan. 29.

    The utility will insert 157 fuel rods, each measuring 21 centimeters by 21 centimeters and 4.1 meters long, into the reactor by Feb. 3 and plans to reactivate the unit in late February. Four of the 157 fuel rods are so-called mixed oxide (MOX) fuel containing plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel and mixed with uranium.

    This is the first time that MOX fuel is being used in Takahama plant's No. 4 reactor. Such fuel is currently in use in its No. 3 reactor.

    KEPCO showed the media the transfer of fuel rods from a fuel storage pool that is adjacent to the No. 4 reactor building to the reactor on Jan. 31. A special crane was used to lift up fuel rods one by one and was moved to the reactor building through water to block radiation and cool down the rods.

    Takahama plant's No. 3 reactor that has already been reactivated will begin generating electric power shortly and will be in full operation in late February, according to company officials.

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