Dangerous operation to remove fuel rods about to begin at Fukushima nuke plant
London – Engineers are preparing to extract the first of more than 1,000 nuclear fuel rods from one of the wrecked reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station.
The fuel rods are currently in a precarious state in a storage pool in Unit 4.
According to the BBC, this building was badly damaged by an explosion in March 2011 after the earthquake and tsunami.
Moving the rods to safety is a high priority but has only become possible after months of repair work and planning.
The fuel rods are four-metre long tubes containing pellets of uranium fuel and it is feared that some may have been damaged during the disaster, the report said.
According to the report, days after the tsunami, there were fears that the blast had damaged Unit 4’s storage pool and the authorities used helicopters and fire hoses to keep it filled with water.
A guiding principle of nuclear safety is that the fuel is kept underwater at all times contact with the air risks overheating and triggering a release that could spread contamination.
So the operation to remove the rods will be painstaking.
A senior official in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) said that the rods will be lifted out in batches of 22 and in casks filled with water, the report added.