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28 September, 2017

Revisions to Fukushima Daiichi Decommissioning Roadmap Delay Removal of Spent Fuel

On September 26, the latest revisions were made to the Mid-and-long-term Roadmap toward the decommissioning of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs), more than two years after the last revisions of June 2015.

Based on a draft released on September 1 by the Japanese government’s core team dealing with the decommissioning, the revisions were finalized at the inter-ministerial council for contaminated water and decommissioning issues.

While no changes were made to the framework of the decommissioning work overall—to be completed some three to four decades after Step 2 in the roadmap is finished, as described in a report of December 2011—there will be delays in the removal of spent fuel from the pools at each unit: to around FY2023 for Units 1 and 2 (FY2020 in the previous roadmap), and to around mid-2018 at Unit 3 (formerly FY 2017).

Meanwhile, as for the contaminated water accumulated in the reactor buildings, the aim is to complete the treatment of all such water by 2020, as stated in the previous roadmap.

As for removal of fuel debris, a step-by-step approach will be taken involving gradual expansion of the scope of work based on a technical proposal made at the end of August by the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF).

The fuel debris within the reactor pressure vessel is to be removed through a method exposing it to the air (the so-called “uncovered removal” method), whereas that found at the bottom of the Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) will be removed via a method partially covered by water.

On the other hand, the method of removing fuel debris from the first unit has not been designated yet. It was to have been chosen in early FY2018 according to the previous roadmap, but that date has been changed to FY2019. Still, the final target for starting the actual removal of fuel debris from the first unit remains unchanged at 2021.

Following the latest revisions to the roadmap, Naohiro Masuda, president of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company of TEPCO met with reporters, telling them that his company would continue communicating with local people and try to improve the working environment at the site further.

He then expressed his determination, saying, “As the party causing the accident, the company will responsibly work on decommissioning based on the revised roadmap.”

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