Removal of N-debris to begin at No. 2 reactor of Fukushima plant

TOKYO (The Japan News/ANN) - A draft plan was released by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to revise the road map for decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. on Monday released a draft plan to revise the road map for decommissioning the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, stating that the work of removing nuclear fuel debris will first begin at the plant’s No. 2 reactor.

 The removal of nuclear fuel debris, which is a mixture of melted nuclear fuel and materials inside the nuclear reactors, is considered a central part of the decommissioning. Removal is scheduled to start by the end of 2021.

 The government and the company will ask local governments and experts for their opinions on the draft plan. The government will decide on the revision at a meeting of relevant government ministers later this fiscal year.  

 Formulated in December 2011, the road map has been periodically reviewed by the government and other relevant entities based on the progress of the work. This is the fifth revision since September 2017. The latest draft plan was presented at a meeting of the decommissioning and contaminated water task force held at the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday. 

 The plan to remove debris from the No. 2 reactor is based on a strategic plan of the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation, which provides technical advice to the government.

 Of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors that suffered meltdowns, research activities have been underway at the No. 2 reactor due to its low radiation level for workers.

 As for the overall decommissioning process, the draft plan maintains the previous policy of completing it “in 30 years to 40 years,” and dividing the process into three phases. 

 The third phase will start in 2021, when the planned removal of the debris will begin. The government decided to stipulate that the work would be done in the first 10 years of the third phase and be completed by the end of 2031. 

The removal of nuclear fuel stored in pools for spent nuclear fuel in all the Nos. 1 to 6 reactor buildings will be completed by the end of 2031, according to the road map. The process has been completed for the No. 4 reactor and work began at the No. 3 reactor in April. 

 The draft plan includes measures to prevent dust containing radioactive materials from scattering. Measures are being considered to safeguard nearby areas, including the installation of a large cover above the No. 1 reactor building. 

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