Spent Fuel Removed From Fukushima Reactor

Spent Fuel Removed From Fukushima Reactor
Spent Fuel Removed From Fukushima Reactor

The firm operating the incapacitated Fukushima nuclear power plant announced its success in removing all the spent uranium fuel from one of the wrecked plant's reactor buildings, completing one part of the second phase of the plant's decades-long decommissioning process, RIA Novosti reported.

"The removal of the spent fuel assemblies was completed," the Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said in a statement. "The removal operation will continue to be performed in a safe and measured manner until the last fuel assembly has been removed and transferred to the common pool."

In a year-long process, TEPCO has removed 1,331 rods of spent uranium weighing 400 tons, which were housed in a damaged storage pool of water in reactor No. 4 at the plant.

Of Fukushima's six reactors, four require the removal of uranium in order to prevent further contamination.

Reactors No. 1-3 at Fukushima went into partial meltdown as a consequence of the tsunami, which damaged their cooling systems. No. 4 suffered a hydrogen explosion, while reactors No. 5 and 6 were less badly affected by the tsunami and their fuel remains stored and in stable condition.

TEPCO has delayed work on removing the fuel from the other three reactors, which was due to start in 2017. Radiation levels are too high for humans to enter them, and the technology to perform the unprecedented cleanup operation alone is not developed enough.