Fuel handling machine removed from Fukushima Daiichi 3

03 August 2015

The removal of the fuel handling machine from the damaged reactor building of unit 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant helps clear the way for the transfer of used fuel from the unit's storage pool.

Fukushima Daiichi 3 refueling machine removal - 460 (Tepco)
The fuel handling machine is lifted from the reactor building (Image: Tepco)

The 20-tonne fuel handling machine - which Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) referred to as the "largest and most complex piece of rubble" - was successfully removed used two 600-tonne crawler cranes, the company announced yesterday. The operation to remove the machine from the unit's used fuel pool at the top of its reactor building followed months of preparation.

When the unit had been in operation prior to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, the fuel handling machine was used for moving fuel assemblies within the reactor building, placing fresh fuel in the reactor's core and taking used fuel from the core and transferring it to the storage pool. However, along with the reactor building, the machine was severely damaged in the accident.

Tepco said the fuel handling machine had to be carefully removed without causing further damage to the used fuel pool or to the 514 fuel assemblies stored within it. Its removal clears the way for the remianing rubble and the used fuel in the storage pool to be removed.

Tepco's chief decommissioning officer Naohiro Masuda said, "The successful completion of this complex task is a credit to the hard work and collaborative spirit of many people from many organizations who have worked together." He added, "It paves the way for continued progress and is a milestone in reducing the risk of removing used fuel assemblies. The workers should take satisfaction in this accomplishment even as we continue the work of decommissioning."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News