Melted fuel a problem for Fukushima decommissioning

17 March 2016

Removal of the melted fuel (corium) debris from the damaged reactors at Japan's Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear site could continue to 2051, according to "initial calculations" by owner and operator Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (Tepco). No final decision has been taken on a completion date for decommissioning work at Fukushima-Daiichi, but initial estimates show that clean-up activities could take between 30 and 40 years after the March 2011 accident, the Tepco told Nucnet.

Tepco said there is corium debris in the reactor pressure vessels or containment vessels of units 1, 2, and 3 at the NPP. Unit 4 was not loaded with fuel at the time of the accident. According to Tepco, the most important decommissioning tasks are the removal of fuel from the used fuel pools in the reactor buildings and the removal of the melted and solidified fuel. Tepco secured JPY1,000bn ($8.8bn) for the first phase of decommissioning and recovery work from 2011 to 2013. In 2013, the company announced it had secured a further JPY1,000bn.

Earlier, Naohiro Masuda, the Chief Decommissioning Officer of the Fukushima NPP, said that operators have yet to locate where the melted nuclear fuel has gone. "There are melted fuels in units 1, 2 and 3," Masuda said. "Frankly, we do not really know what the situation is for these (melted fuel), nor where it has gone."

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