October 31, 2014
TEPCO removes part of reactor building cover at Fukushima plant
Part of the cover over No. 1 reactor of Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is removed, revealing massive debris inside the reactor on Oct. 31. (Mainichi)
TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The operator of the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Friday tentatively removed part of the cover shrouding the No.1 reactor building installed in the wake of the 2011 disaster to keep radioactive materials from dispersing.
Dismantling the cover is a first step toward removing spent fuel rods stored in a cooling pool sitting above the reactor, which suffered a meltdown in the disaster, and eventually extracting the melted fuel, Tokyo Electric Power Co said.
A crane removes part of the cover over No. 1 reactor of Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on Oct. 31. (Mainichi)
On Friday morning, plant workers removed a huge panel using a crane to see whether antidispersal agents, inserted last week to prevent radioactive dust from being scattered, are taking effect. No changes in radiation levels have been observed around the plant so far, the company said.
TEPCO will continue observing for a month to make sure radioactive materials are not dispersing and put the panel back again. The utility plans to begin full-fledged work on dismantling the cover next March.
Once the whole cover is removed, TEPCO hopes to first clean debris covering the upper side of the building resulting from a hydrogen explosion in 2011. The company then plans to begin taking out spent fuel rods from the pool in the first half of 2019 at the earliest, which is to be followed by the challenging work of extracting melted fuel inside the reactor.
The No. 1 reactor building cover was installed in October 2011 as an emergency measure to keep radioactive dust from scattering. TEPCO initially planned to begin preparatory work for removing it by the end of last March, but the company was forced to delay the schedule after local residents voiced concern that the decommissioning work at the plant may have contaminated rice crops in nearby areas.
October 31, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Part of cover removed from Fukushima reactor bldg.
Oct. 31, 2014 - Updated 03:46 UTC+1
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has removed part of the cover of a reactor building on a trial basis.
The work is aimed at clearing debris as part of preparations for removing nuclear fuel from a spent fuel storage pool. The debris was left by a hydrogen explosion after the 2011 nuclear accident.
Tokyo Electric Power Company began the procedure on Friday morning at the No. 1 reactor building. Using a remote-controlled crane, workers lifted one of the 6 panels of the ceiling, taking about 20 minutes. The procedure is aimed at checking whether any dust is stirred up.
TEPCO plans to remove another panel as early as next week, while monitoring the spread of radioactive materials for about a month.
The utility hopes to begin the full-scale dismantling of the cover in March and start removing the debris in the first half of fiscal 2016.
The dismantling of the cover was initially due to start in July. But the utility delayed the operation following the spread of nuclear materials during the removal of debris at the No. 3 reactor building last year.
TEPCO officials now plan to postpone starting the removal of the spent fuel units by 2 years, to fiscal 2019, and the start of removing melted fuel by 5 years, until 2025.