Tepco frees up Fukushima Daiichi fuel storage space

05 June 2018

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has begun transferring some of the fuel assemblies currently stored in the communal fuel storage pool at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan to an on-site temporary dry storage facility. The company aims to clear sufficient space for the fuel assemblies held in unit 3's pool.

The transfer will provide space for fuel Tepco plans to remove from the fuel pool of unit 3 (Image: Tepco)

Tepco plans to transfer a total of 483 used fuel assemblies from the communal storage pool by August, according to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. This fuel will be placed in dry casks used for transport and storage, which provide shielding and heat removal. Operation of the temporary cask storage area - which has the capacity to store up to 50 casks - began in April 2013. The transfer of nine existing dry storage casks was completed the following month.

The removal of this fuel will provide space for 566 fuel assemblies - including 52 unused assemblies - that are currently stored in the storage pool of unit 3. The removal of this fuel is scheduled to start this summer.

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.

Installation of a cover over the fuel handling machine that will help remove fuel from the storage pool of Fukushima Daiichi unit 3 was completed in February. 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. The fuel handling machine and crane were installed in November. Test operation of the system has already been carried out.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News