Please view the main text area of the page by skipping the main menu.

TEPCO eyes 1st contact with fuel debris in damaged nuke reactor from Oct.

The inside of the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is seen in this frame grab from video provided by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID).

TOKYO -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) will directly touch melted fuel debris inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant for the first time sometime from October onward, the utility and the government announced on July 26.

The company will insert a pipe into the containment vessel of the plant's No. 2 reactor and use a device at its tip to confirm the hardness and other properties of the debris, before retrieving a small amount from that reactor and the No. 1 reactor in fiscal 2019. Full-scale removal of debris is scheduled to start in 2021, likely at the No. 2 reactor, where probes have been the most extensive.

The pipe to be used to make direct contact with the debris will be an improved version of one equipped with a camera that was used to film inside the No. 2 reactor's containment vessel in January. Besides checking the hardness of the debris, the company will also examine whether it can be moved. It will incorporate the results of its test removal of debris in deciding on a method for full-scale removal.

"We don't know what the debris will be like. We will examine it step by step as we look ahead to its removal," Akira Ono, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co. said at a news conference.

Meanwhile, TEPCO has announced that in November it will start to remove 566 nuclear fuel rods which have been kept in the No. 3 reactor's fuel pool. It will aim to complete the removal of these fuel rods in 2020.

(Japanese original by Toshiyuki Suzuki, Science & Environment News Department)

Also in The Mainichi

The Mainichi on social media