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Spent fuel rods removed from No. 4 reactor building at Fukushima

By Aaron Sheldrick

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Congrats to TEPCO for this accomplishment. It is a step in the right direction, and a true success after over three years of problems. But, as the article says:

Once the spent fuel has been removed, TEPCO can address the most difficult task of extracting the three reactor cores that melted during the crisis, an unprecedented occurrence.

They have to repeat the same process on Reactors #1, #2, and #3, and THEN get on to the really tough part -- addressing the three melted cores. Hope that the good trend continues.

9 ( +13 / -4 )

The whole world should be grateful for the hard work that was put in to get this task done. Congratulations.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Joshu, I'm with you. These guys (and gals?) have basically signed a death warrant to clean up Government Control TEPCO's mess. I can on.y hope and pray that they and their families will be well taken care of. Appreciation and prayers out to all working to clean up the mess.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

It's only a token victory. Please note that, the removed fuel rods are now stored in a pool at ground level, which means, if there is another tsunami in the near future they will be right back where they started from or even worse off because there are many more fuel rods in a concentrated area. They still have no idea where to store these rods and placing them into housing #6 is just asking for trouble. Yeah, they have stopped a 'Chiba Syndrome' meltdown, but it's not even a quarter of the real battle.

-1 ( +8 / -9 )

Good progress. I hope it continues in all areas of this disaster, especially for those facing another winter in temp accomodation.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I congratulates these workers on their amazing accomplishment! Thank you! There is still a long way to go but at least this is one big step in the right direction. That being said, I wonder exactly what are the "holdups" with decommissioning? Why five years before starting?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Rods out, thats great, but judging on past efforts, i.e. water storage etc etc the question is.. where are they and how secure are they now?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Good work. Please don't speak of "token victories" - this is a major victory for the legitimacy of the clean up operations. This was an operation with a relatively high risk for an incident, but went off basically without a hitch.

Thanks to the engineers and technicians who made this happen.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Doomsday predictors love to play down victories like this, while overreacting to any tidbit of news of problems. This removal operation was widely predicted to fail and spell the end of the entire country/world.

They have shown that they are capable of doing it, so lets give them praise and encouragement for the rest of the (long) task ahead...

6 ( +8 / -2 )

OMG... Im kinda in shock. Well done to them. 本当にお疲れ様 to the workers on the front lines... not execs. I guess the new secrecy law should be renamed the "Only when we have good news, we tell you" law :)

5 ( +6 / -1 )

WOW! Seems we have some genuine good news.............rare occurrence, lets hope it continues!

5 ( +6 / -1 )

To prevent this type of situations spent nuclear fuel should be stored away from power plant, some new regulations could take care of this problem.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This was good, but was by far the easiest part of what will take generations to mitigate.

We do not need such dangerous systems.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

GOOD News after a Long Time !!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Other electric power companies, such as the Kansai-EPCO and the Chugoku-EPCO, are entering into the market in the metropolitan area. TEPCO and its workers are doing their best under such tough circumstance of deregulation. Although it is regrettable that the tragic accident occurred, the government and we should support TEPCO more.

-5 ( +4 / -9 )

Well done to those workers on the ground doing the task many would run from. Thank you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hiroshi.. "Although it is regrettable that the tragic accident occurred, the government and we should support TEPCO more"

No, not at all, the government, and TEPCO are entirely to blame for this MAN MADE disaster in the first place.

Profit before safety, self regulation, a heavily biased oversight committee, and ministers just paving a path for their turn to head up a private organisation that they once were the direct minister for...

Its like giving a criminal a medal because sometimes they return a tiny percentage of the things they steal..

Instead, we the public, have bailed this organisation out, which after they then go on to increase power prices..

The CEO, safety officers should be in jail for gross negligence... not to mention the

The only people who deserve praise are those who are either selfless or sadly desperate enough to be risking their lives to go there and work on this dangerous site.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

To NZ2011 Thanks for the response. At first when the accident occurred, I was thinking as you said. But now, those who should be really blamed have left TEPCO or transferred to different departments. Those who are coping with the nuclear plant now are all, including top managers, innocent to the accident. I think supporting TEPCO comes to back up such workers and accelerate revitalization of Fukushima.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I sincerely doubt that it is the case that all the people involved in creating this mess are gone, but I would be gladly proven wrong..

However though its very conspicuous that not a single person has been held accountable in any meaningful way what-so-ever.. and unlikely to ever be so.

Even more worrying that while this disaster is on going the current government has purposefully weighted the authorities overseeing other plants with pro-nuclear members.

Transferred to different departments is precisely the kind of thing that causes these issues... innocent to the accident they may well be but if there isn't a distinct, transparent, open change in culture I for one can't support the continuation of such an organisation.

I again think the workers on the ground are the ones deserving of the praise if any is to be given, but if the system that created this problem isn't changed and once again profit/reducing costs is put above safety it is just a very temporary band aid and not a fix.

Not to be negative, but revitalisation of Fukushima, at least anywhere near the plant is nothing but a dangerous somewhat naive pipe dream, no-one except the people working on the plant, and especially food production to be sold in public should be going on anywhere near there, at all, probably forever.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I remember the doom merchants saying that there would be an accident and the situation would get ten times worse. This is fantastic news, and shows that the hard work and technical expertise of the staff really paid off. Well done TEPCO.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

These guys (and gals?) have basically signed a death warrant

No they didn't. Their jobs are no more hazardous than the jobs of hundreds of thousands of other people around the world. Heck, there are places in Brazil and India where people get more radiation exposure sitting around their house than these workers are getting.

Yeah, they have stopped a 'Chiba Syndrome' meltdown

There was and is no risk of a 'China Syndrome' meltdown from fuel stored in spent fuel pools.

To prevent this type of situations spent nuclear fuel should be stored away from power plant

So then you have two facalities require all the monitoring and security rather than just one. It is like saying everyone should have their own landfill in their own yard rather than having just one landfill for each town/region.

the No4 cooling pool came very close to collapsing

No it didn't. There was never any credible risk of the #4 fuel pool collapsing. There were early concerns but once an inspection could be performed it showed that the damage was not enough to compromise the buildings integrity.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

This Salvage hype is all about money 400 tons of spent uranium fuel can be sold so can the unused fuel assemblies money money money ..... if the spread contamination were contained with Daiichi entombed TEPCO and J Gov would have had to write everything off as a loss.... This way they get to save a dime while losing a dollar and putting workers and citizen in harms way Congrats TEPCO and J Gov

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

man it's nuts; the rods are radioactive for 10,000 years and will need to be stored locally basically forever. It's like all batteries in our entire lives all turned into radioactive trash. Great for the workers to get it out of imminent harm's way,indeed, but it will be forever a problem.

Next time someone tries to sell you on nuclear mention the toxic trash that lasts longer than twice the age of the pyramids as a crime against humanity and the planet. A level of arrogance never before imagined. What an appalling legacy.

Given the hotspots already in Fukushima, I guess it will end up being the dumping ground for all the reactors in Japan? That this canard continues remains a sad day, especially when this doesn't need to be

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sorry Zichi,

TEPCO and METI disagree with you: "Our analyses show that the building, including the spent fuel pool, will not collapse even if an earthquake equivalent (seismic intensity 6) to the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake occurs in the area."

Refs http://www.meti.go.jp/english/earthquake/nuclear/decommissioning/pdf/20120605_01b.pdf http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/info/images/120426_01-e.pdf

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Here is a video of the first international tv crew visiting the Fukushima dai ichi site:


Even if you don't have access to the language the daily cleanup work, safety conditions, 2 hour work shifts, decades of efforts still ahead..... Well you might be interested

2 ( +2 / -0 )


reading the reports you'll see that the seismic safety check was done without the reinforcement factored in. The reinforcement added an extra 20% safety margin.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Star-Viking Then please explain why TEPCO decided to reenforce underneath the No4 pool and there were photos of it on the TEPCO site? Did TEPCO a state it wouldn't collapse that work?

It's all very good making these claims but you don't seem to have produced any evidence to support it. Just merely repeating your previous claim. Which doesn't make it true.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

So why did TEPCO a do that?

As I very plainly said, there were concerns about its stability until a full inspection could be made.

And then you had the alarmists who despite proof otherwise continued to make their scary claims of impending doom. The reinforcing was mostly a political move not an engineering one, although some of it may have been needed for the new crane structure.

It's all very good making these claims but you don't seem to have produced any evidence to support it. Just merely repeating your previous claim. Which doesn't make it true.

Sure looks to me like he posted 2 links to documents that support his claims and one of those documents has further links to more detailed analysis. Which does make it true.

The pool was in danger of collapse if the plant was hit by a powerful aftershock or another powerful quake.

Where does either of those documents say that?

The first one clearly says;

The top of the unit 4 R/B was damaged by the hydrogen explosion BUT we confirmed that the building, including the spent fuel pool, has a sufficient margin of seismic resistance even if an earthquake equivalent to the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake (JMA Seismic Intensity Scale 6+) occurs in the area.

And the second says;

Using an analysis model reflecting the damage of the reactor building per the hydrogen explosion as shown in figure 3, we conducted an evaluation of the reactor building against the seismic movement (600 gal) used for the seismic back-check equivalent to the Tohoku-Pacific Ocean Earthquake and confirmed that the reactor building has a sufficient margin of seismic safety.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well Zichi, maybe your googles distract your field of vision. A current video of No4 Fukdai1 ( end of Sept) by a German Public TV crew sporting a european science presenter with an Indian name, but nontheless relevant as to this threat About 15 min into the video is the interior of No4 plus graphics of what work has been done recently over there.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Good fellow Appreceating whatever your issues. Regards

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whatever you care to state now does not change the events which happened which was TEPCO decided with great effort to re-enforce the underneath of the No4 cooling pool because at the time engineers expressed their concern over the damage to the pool structure.

However you care to twist reality does not change the events that really happened, which was inspections showed no need for reinforcement but to quiet the alarmists with their doomsday scenarios TEPCO went ahead and increased the safety margin.

Of course this cost more money, took time away from cleanup efforts and exposed workers to unnecessary radiation

The pool is almost empty of the nuclear fuel but there are still concerns about using this type of cooling pool several floors above ground level. The previous gov't called for an end to the practice

Points I ever questioned. And in my experience most reactor plants do not have their spent fuel pools several floors above ground level.

Following your line of argument then it would require less security if all the spent nuclear fuel was moved from the 18 atomic power plants and stored at the reprocessing plant in Aomori.

Again not a point I ever questioned and yes my line of argument would lead to storing all spent fuel in one location.

Something the power utilities are unwilling to do because they would have to pay for the transport, storage and reprocessing.

Well there are lots of things companies don't want to do but the government has the ability to pass regulations requiring them to comply. In the US the power companies WANT a centralized storage location and have even sued the government for not providing one. Of course in the US they have been paying a surcharge to the government on all the electricity they have created specifically for the establishment, construction and operation of a centralized facility.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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