Fuel rod removed from Fukushima plant pool
Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Wednesday removed one of two unused nuclear fuel assemblies from the spent-fuel pool of reactor 4 at its Fukushima No. 1 power station.
Television footage showed dozens of workers, all wearing white protective suits, atop the heavily damaged unit 4 building, extracting the fuel rod with a crane. TV crews used helicopters to film the operation, defying requests from Tepco.
The operation is a trial ahead of the planned transfer of all the fuel assemblies now in the spent-fuel pool to a common pool in another part of the stricken plant. The transfer is expected to start by the end of 2014.
During the work, Tepco removed one of two unused fuel assemblies, which emit relatively low levels of radiation. The other assembly is expected to be removed Thursday.
Tepco will scrutinize the two to see if and how they have been affected by a hydrogen explosion at reactor 3 and the use of seawater to cool the fuel assemblies.
Reactor 4 had no fuel in its core when the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami hit the plant in March last year. The reactor had been shut down for maintenance.
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.
|Trial transfer: Work to remove a nuclear fuel assembly is under way Wednesday atop the heavily damaged building of reactor 4 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. KYODO|