Workers remove 2 nuclear fuel rods from Fukushima reactor

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  • 2

    Yubaru

    Tasaka said the government target of removing all the rods by the end of next year may prove too optimistic because of many unknowns, the need to develop new technology and the risk of aftershocks.

    To me this is the scariest part of the entire scenario. It's sounds to me like they are already preparing their "excuses" in the event that they fail at the task currently at hand.

  • -2

    tmarie

    Two down, hundreds to go. A start but a very late start.

    Yubaru, they think if the excuses BEFORE they do anything here!

  • 1

    SquidBert

    tmarie, thousands to go (and that's just one of the pools)

  • 0

    kwatt

    Each power plants have a great number of spent fuel rods. Where would they go? These fuels belong to Tokyo, so they could come to Tokyo after they made the big pools there.

  • 2

    basroil

    What's with the absolutely incorrect headline? Saying a spent fuel pool is a reactor is like saying a train station is an airport. While many are housed in the same building, they are NOT the same.

    Considering they are removing the rods the standard way, we can assume that there was absolutely no damage to any fuel rod there. The 204 rods are brand new, so their radioactivity is actually very low, possibly lower than the radiation outside the plant, and can be removed very quickly. The other 1300 rods haven't been sitting for the standard 10 years, so those would take some time to properly evacuate.

  • 2

    gogogo

    “If we are asked whether things are completely safe, we cannot say that,” he said. “If there is another major earthquake, we don’t know what may happen, although we hope for the best.”

    Not good enough

  • 2

    WilliB

    Two down, several hundreds more to go. But with each little step, the situation gets better.

  • 2

    Scrote

    Here they hope that the building will not collapse before they have removed the spent fuel. In the other story they hope that the fault underneath the Oi reactors will not become active.

    I suggest these electricity companies change their motto from "anzen dai ichi" to "fingers crossed".

  • 3

    cleo

    “If there is another major earthquake, we don’t know what may happen, although we hope for the best.”

    Oh My No-Words-Are-Adequate Deity.

  • -8

    cattzs

    At least something is being done

  • 0

    zichi

    TEPCO made good progress removing all the debris and broken structure of the 5th floor of No4 reactor building.

    http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2012/201207-e/120711_01e.html

    Yesterday, TEPCO removed a single unused fuel assembly to check the damage on cladding tube caused by sea water injected just after 3/11. TEPCO plans to remove a second fuel assembly soon. The radiation level of new fuel assemblies is usually about 25μSv/h.

    http://www.47news.jp/CN/201207/CN2012071801001099.html

    At the time disaster struck, 1,535 fuel assemblies were stored in the spent-fuel pool. Of the total, 1,331 were spent fuel assemblies while 204 were unused. TEPCO will start to remove all the spent fuel beginning at the end of 2013.

    First KEPCO needs to build a new building or structure alongside the No4 reactor building. This will be for a new 30 ton overhead crane which is designed for the safe removal of the fuel assemblies.

    Photo http://www.japantimes.co.jp/images/photos2012/nn20120719a2a.jpg

    I think TEPCO were planning to use some MOX fuel, maybe about 30 assemblies, like in the No3 reactor, when it refuelled the No4 reactor. In which which case, some of the unused fuel would be MOX.

    The overhead crane at the common pool was damaged by the earthquake and will have to be repaired before the spent fuel from the No4 pool is removed.

    Radiation levels in the area next to the 1-4 reactors is 300 microsieverts per hour.

  • -2

    zichi

    The contents of the No4 spent fuel pool, that is, water and fuel assemblies, weights 1,670 tons. TEPCO reinforced the underneath with concrete 2 feet thick and steel to prevent collapse. The pool itself is level. There's some leaning on the south facing wall but not very much.

  • 0

    moomoochoo

    I'm glad to hear they are finally talking about this in Japan. The foreign media has been on this for ages now http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2012/s3532725.htm

  • -4

    zichi

    moomoochoo,

    what is happening at the plant is never out of the media, and you can alway vist the TEPCO website for the laest updates with photo's and video's?

    In fact the media coverage of the plant blocks out what is happening with the other two disasters, the earthquake and tsunami, and what is happening with the reconstruction. Now we have the disaster in Kyushu from the heavy rains.

  • -2

    Robert Roo

    The two rods removed Wednesday are among 204 that have not been used to generate power and are not as prone to releasing radiation as the 1,331 spent-fuel rods also sitting in the pool.

    1331 spent fuel rods - meaning all the reactors over japan have so many spent fuel rods inactive but radioactive just sitting in the pools of water I presume to keep them cool?Depending on how long the plants have been running this number is growing until what? Until there is no space to store the waste... Then what? And the waste lasts for 1000s of years - what a foolish idea to make this mess in the first place. They should no be operating at all and certainly should not have been given the go ahead without technology to reuse or decommission the waste. Unbelievable!

  • 0

    basroil

    Robert RooJul. 19, 2012 - 12:01PM JST

    1331 spent fuel rods - meaning all the reactors over japan have so many spent fuel rods inactive but radioactive just sitting in the pools of water I presume to keep them cool?Depending on how long the plants have been running this number is growing until what? Until there is no space to store the waste... Then what? And the waste lasts for 1000s of years - what a foolish idea to make this mess in the first place. They should no be operating at all and certainly should not have been given the go ahead without technology to reuse or decommission the waste. Unbelievable!

    They are kept cool until noble gasses, iodine, Cs134, and other decay wastes with less than 5 years are mostly gone, which is about 10-15 years. The water in the pools has three purposes.

    1) The water cools the rods and keeps them about 10 times lower temperature than the normal safe limit (using 25C as the pivot)

    2) The water acts as a moderator, preventing cross fuel criticality. In the case of Fukushima, there is higher than normal levels of boron in the water to further stop neutrons that cause criticality.

    3) The water acts as a radiation suppressor, enough so that you can safely stand above the pool and never receive your dose limit.

    Most fuel is reprocessed several times, and decay products removed as waste, as well as depleted uranium that is then used in everything from bullets to old 747s. The total waste of the reactor loses most of it's radioactivity within a few weeks, and the remaining waste is only actually significant for up to 600 years. After about 600 years, the waste has LESS radiation than the ore mined, and therefore we should only need to concern ourselves with this short term waste. People have been able to build structures that last over 2000 years two millennia ago, so 600 years isn't outside the realm of engineering capability.

    Additionally, there are some pool type reactors being built in china, which simply use spent fuel to heat buildings. As mentioned before, the bulk of the material (usually 96% by weight) becomes depleted uranium, which is used in plenty of applications including radiation shields (think lead but more effective)

  • 1

    globalwatcher

    Just need to do one at time....and then it will be done. Workers need everyone's full suppor.Thank you for their hard work.

  • -3

    zichi

    Last year, the gov't requested that the atomic power companies stop using open pools for spent fuel. At Fukushima it was a design madness to built open pools 100 feet above ground level. The No4 pool came so close to collapsing which would have made the disaster much worse, probably even the evacuation of Tokyo.

    When the spent fuel is removed from the reactors it can be placed in dry casks instead, which s more expensive but safer. Germany used that system while America also uses open pools.

  • 1

    billyshears

    Just out of curiosity, where will these removed nuclear fuel rods be stored? At a newly-built nearby location or is there already a facility for these rods at Fukushima?

  • 0

    basroil

    zichiJul. 19, 2012 - 01:14PM JST

    When the spent fuel is removed from the reactors it can be placed in dry casks instead, which s more expensive but safer. Germany used that system while America also uses open pools.

    Dry cask method is quite dangerous for new spent fuel, since you have to contend with noble gasses, iodine, etc. If welds are already known to be an issue even with long cooled fuel, imagine how much of an issue they would be with fuel rods that still have short term radioisotopes. While both germany and US use the system, they do so only for medium term storage, and three plants in Germany use it after a year of normal spent fuel pool cooling.

    That said, Japan and America are both moving to a closed pool type system, mainly for terrorism reasons rather than a perceived threat from radiation. The casks are actually just as vulnerable, and horizontal casks are the only type that would work in Japan. Problem is, they are harder to cool than pools, since you can't just keep adding water. You need to pump them, and knowing there was electrical issues at the plant, a passive cooling pool is far safer than casks. That said, they made (or are making, can't find current status) ground level spent fuel pools (above sea level) to conform with proposed regulations on overhead spent fuel pools.

  • 0

    Thomas Anderson

    Yes remove the damn things already... all 1535 of them... good grief.

    What's with the absolutely incorrect headline? Saying a spent fuel pool is a reactor is like saying a train station is an airport. While many are housed in the same building, they are NOT the same.

    I'll assume by reactor they meant a plant.

  • 0

    Thomas Anderson

    Scrote

    Here they hope that the building will not collapse before they have removed the spent fuel. In the other story they hope that the fault underneath the Oi reactors will not become active. I suggest these electricity companies change their motto from "anzen dai ichi" to "fingers crossed".

    Nuclear - relying on luck since 1942.

  • -1

    SquidBert

    Nuclear - relying on luck since 1942. Luck, duct tape and a stick of gum, that was all that was needed to keep the Hindenburg from exploding, it should be good enough for nuclear reactors to, right?

    Besides, the all-knowing basroil has assured us that it is safe, so we should not question such authority. As we all know questioning authority is bad, especially in regards to nuclear.

  • 2

    wanderlust

    I wonder if the company that makes a lot of these fuel rods and assemblies, Global Nuclear Fuels in Yokosuka (yes Yokosuka, their assembly plant is between the highland area and the station) should take some responsibility for their disposal/ storage of their products after use? After all, electronics manufacturers and car-makers have to recycle components and provide eco-friendly disposal.

  • -4

    zichi

    wanderlust,

    the French have offered to take all the spent nuclear fuel from the plant. The melted fuel is another matter?

  • -3

    zichi

    billyshears,

    once the spent nuclear fuel is removed from pools 1-6 and placed for a time in a large common pool, but not big enough for all the fuel, the spent fuel is put into dry casks and moved to a special built building down on the docks. That building is also curently full so a new building will be needed. There''s no proper storage space in Japan for all the spent fuel from all the atomic plants.

    But like I said, France has offered to take all the spent fuel from Fukushima.

  • 1

    wanderlust

    @zichi - thanks for the France offer info. As for the melted fuel, that's the big question which no-one can answer for a while. Is it in a single blob, is it mixed with melted control rods assemblies and other equipment, is it dispersed over a wide area and mixed with concrete and containment materials? How far down into the ground has it gone? Certainly no carbon-based life can approach it, and no silicon-based robots currently made can visualize it.

  • 2

    basroil

    zichiJul. 19, 2012 - 03:38PM JST

    the French have offered to take all the spent nuclear fuel from the plant. The melted fuel is another matter?

    If France had held up their agreement on the reprocessing of spent fuel there wouldn't be so many rods at Fukushima in the first place. You can thank Greenpeace for this, since they lead the fight to make rerouting ships too expensive and Japan turned to reprocessing in-house (at a much lower capacity).

    In fact, I wonder how France plans on taking the spent fuel, or if they made statements fully knowing they will never actually keep them.

    As for melted fuel, that would be a small portion of the fuel within the three active reactors, and will have to wait a long time to deal with. They likely won't even try to remove the undamaged rods for another 20-30 years, and either leave the molten mass in place or slowly attempt to remove smaller pieces and put those into long term storage (no reprocessing because the cladding is likely fused).

  • -4

    zichi

    wanderlust, the major shareholder of Global Nuclear Fuels is General Electric of America which designed the Fukushima reactors. Toshiba and Hatachi are also shareholders.

  • 2

    basroil

    zichiJul. 19, 2012 - 07:36PM JST

    I think you mean GE capital, which is technically a separate entity. Hitachi bought out GE's reactor business.

  • -4

    zichi

    basroil,

    Global Nuclear Fuel-Japan Co. (GNF-J) is part of a joint venture formed by General Electric, Toshiba, and Hitachi as early as 1967 to introduce to Japan a boiling water reactor developed by GE. 

    General Electric has the controlling 51% stake in the venture, and Toshiba and Hitachi split the remaining share.

    http://www.hoovers.com/company/Global_Nuclear_Fuel_-_Japan_Co_Ltd/ryjtkif-1-1njht4-1njfaq.html

  • -4

    zichi

    basroil,

    I think you mean GE capital, which is technically a separate entity. Hitachi bought out GE's reactor business.

    Established in June 2007, GEH is a global nuclear alliance created by GE and Hitachi to serve the global nuclear industry.

  • -2

    Blair Herron

    @globalwatcher

    Thank you for their hard work.

    Thank you for your hard work, too for the rescue mission right after 3.11 earthquake/tsunami❤

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    @Blair, thank you for remembering it.

    I have been a secret chair leader for Japan and Japanese. Every time, Japan does something right and correct, I am very, very happy for you all. Knowing Japanese, something very positive will come out from this disaster, I assurre you. Japanese just need to keep plugging in for your future, dream and hope. You will prevail!!

  • -3

    zichi

    some the spent fuel at the Fukushima plant belongs to America and was being stored there because the U.S. is running out of storage capacity.

  • 0

    globalwatcher

    some the spent fuel at the Fukushima plant belongs to America and was being stored there because the U.S. is running out of storage capacity.

    @Zichi, I did not know that. Japan needs to return them back to US.as they are liability for Japan. US just needs to build more storage facilities here in US. Japan should not be used for s@@t holes. Is there any discussion going on between two countries on this issue? Please let me know. Thanks.

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