Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has removed two unused fuel assemblies from a fuel pool at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, an encouraging sign of progress being made as part of the company’s long-term recovery plan.
“We cannot overstate the importance of this step by TEPCO,” said Steve Kraft, NEI’s senior director for Fukushima response coordination and strategy. “It not only demonstrates progress in beginning to remove the accumulated nuclear fuel in the damaged plants (particularly from reactor 4), but the new fuel assemblies will also be analyzed to provide information on the used fuel that will be invaluable in the effort to remove the used fuel.”
The action is a milestone for the company mainly for two reasons. First, it allows TEPCO the ability to examine how the assemblies reacted to the various chemicals they were exposed to throughout the accident, such as falling debris and salt water. Second, it allows TEPCO to then use this information as a guide for understanding how the used fuel assemblies and the nuclear plant fared during the accident, which will shape how the company plans to remove the used fuel assemblies from the fuel pools in the future as part of its long-term recovery plan.
The two fuel assemblies that were removed were among 204 that were slated to be loaded into unit 4 following the reactor’s routine maintenance outage, which was underway at the time of the accident.
For more information, see an article in today’s Washington Post.
Also see TEPCO’s website for photos.