Removal of 4 deformed fuel units begins at Daiichi

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was crippled after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami has started removing four deformed nuclear fuel assemblies from the storage pool of the No.3 reactor building. It is part of efforts to decommission the plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, began the process this week using equipment it jointly developed with Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions Corporation.

The machine has a specially designed hook to lift the units whose handles were severely mangled when building debris fell and hit them following a hydrogen explosion.

In 2019, TEPCO started removing all 566 unused and spent fuel units, including the four assemblies, from the reactor's pool to a safe facility in the plant's compound. It plans to complete the work by next month.

An official of Toshiba Energy Systems & Solutions said his company has conducted tests after studying what hook shape and material are the best to grip the fuel units whose deformations differ from one another. He added he hopes the machine will help remove the fuel assemblies quickly.