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17 July, 2019

TEPCO to Use Robots in Investigating Fukushima Daiichi NPPs, Aiming to Remove Spent Fuel from Unit 1 Pool Next Year

On June 27, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) released a report on the progress of decommissioning work currently taking place at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants.

Regarding the fuel removal from the Unit 3 spent fuel pool, the power company said that it had almost completed a review of the first removal of the fuel, conducted in April of this year. It is now preparing for the second round, to take place in July, as well as subsequent removal work, by removing loose debris, conducting training, and performing other actions.

In anticipation of the removal of spent fuel from the Unit 1 pool, to be launched in FY23 (March 31, 2023), TEPCO will work on how to deal with the reactor well plug, which seems to have moved from its original position due to a hydrogen explosion. The plug consists of a three-layered structure (upper, middle and lower) above the reactor vessel closure head, each layer of which consists of three concrete slabs.

To that end, investigations will be carried out using two robots fitted for taking photographs and measuring radiation dose rates in the air. Currently, the company is preparing the equipment and materials for mock-up tests. After removing small debris from around the opening, TEPCO intends to begin the investigations as early as the middle of this month.

According to the “mid-and-long-term roadmap” toward the reactor’s decommissioning, the decision on a fuel-removal approach for the first unit will be made before the end of the current fiscal year, which runs until March 31, 2020.

At a press conference, President Akira Ono of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company said, “Depending on the technological strategy formulated by the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF), a blueprint could be shown to a certain extent as soon as this summer.”

At the press conference, it was announced that the fourth International Forum on the Decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi NPPs, sponsored by the NDF, would be held on August 4 in Tomioka Town, and on the following day in Iwaki City. Both municipalities are located in Fukushima Prefecture.

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