Fuel removal gear in place at Fukushima Daiichi unit

21 February 2018

A cover has been installed over the fuel handling machine that will help remove fuel from the storage pool of unit 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. The removal of the fuel is scheduled to start in mid-2018. 

FD3 fuel removal machine cover - 460 (Tepco)
The arched cover over the fuel handling machine at unit 3 (Image: Tepco)

The section of the reactor building that sheltered the service floor of unit 3 was wrecked by a hydrogen explosion three days after the tsunami of March 2011 - leaving the fuel pond exposed and covered by debris including many twisted steel beams.

Once the largest pieces of rubble had been removed, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) began construction of a separate structure to facilitate the removal by a remotely-operated crane of the 566 fuel assemblies from the storage pool. This 54-metre-tall structure includes a steel frame, filtered ventilation and an arched section at its top to accommodate the crane. Measuring 57m long and 19m wide, it is not fixed to the reactor building itself, but is supported on the ground on one side, and against the turbine building on the other.

Installation of the first of eight sections of the arched roof of the cover was carried out last August. The fuel handling machine and crane were installed in November.

Tepco announced today the final section of the arched roof had been put in place, about two weeks ahead of schedule. Removal of the fuel assemblies will be carried out from the middle of the year.

The fuel removed from unit 3 will be packaged for transport the short distance to the site's communal fuel storage pool, but it will need to be inspected and flushed clean of dust and debris.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News