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10 May, 2019

President of Decommissioning Company Says “Feel” from Unit 3 Will Aid Decommissioning of Other Units

On April 25, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., (TEPCO) issued a progress report on the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants.

Removal of fuel from the spent fuel pool at Unit 3 began on April 15, starting with fifty-two unused fuel assemblies. The first transport container, holding  seven unused fuel assemblies, was moved to the common pool building on April 23.

Further training will be carried out from now on, with fuel removal using the second transport container expected to start as early as July. According to the mid-and-long-term decommissioning roadmap, the fuel at Unit 3 will be completely removed during FY20 (April 2020 to March 2021). (Click here for fuel removal video.)

At a monthly press conference on April 25, President Akira Ono of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company contrasted the operation at Unit 3 with the directly-viewed fuel removal from Unit 4, completed back in December 2014, saying, “The feel for remote operation acquired through the fuel removal at Unit 3 ought to carry over to Units 1 and 2.”

The transfer and assembly of devices for dismantling the exhaust stack for Units 1 and 2 were completed on April 25. A demonstration test of the dismantling, which began last summer, completed its final step on April 2.

Meanwhile, dose measurements inside and outside the stack and investigations by camera—conducted on April 13 and 18—showed nothing that would prevent carrying out of the plan, including the effects on the surrounding environment stemming from the dismantling. A final, comprehensive validation will precede the beginning of the actual work, slated for the middle of this month.

At the press conference, one reporter asked whether foreign workers with the residence status of Designated Skilled Labor—a new system that became effective nationally in April—would be employed at the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs. Ono answered that his company “would like to handle the issue adequately, paying close attention to guidance from the relevant ministries and agencies, as well as observing agreements by organizations in the nuclear industry.” He went on to say that the most important consideration, regardless of workers’ nationality, was to convey the importance of safety at the site.

The system of Designated Skilled Labor was a response by the national Japanese government to the current labor shortage in Japan. Foreigners with specific expertise or skills in fourteen designated industrial areas are eligible.

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