TEPCO has removed the first fuel assemblies from the Fukushima Daiichi unit 4 spent fuel pool. The first assembly was removed on 18 November.
The fuel assemblies will be removed one by one from a fuel rack inside the Unit 4 spent fuel pool, and will be loaded onto the on-premises transportation container (NFT-22B transfer cask), which is capable of holding as many as 22 assemblies. Once the container has been filled with assemblies, workers will transport it to another pool in the Common Pool Building.
The fuel removal operation is targeted for completion by the end of 2016.
The first fuel assemblies to be removed are 22 unused ones.
Since March 2012 TEPCO has been working on construction of a new structure to hold a new overhead fuel transfer machine. Steel erection began in January and ended in May. TEPCO received a completion certificate from the regulator in mid-November.
The unit 4 reactor was in outage at the time of the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami; all of the reactor's fuel was loaded in its spent fuel pool, where it has remained.