TEPCO completes removal of all fuel rods from Fukushima No. 4 reactor


Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on Saturday completed the removal of the last four fuel rods from a cooling pool high up in the badly damaged No. 4 reactor building at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The operation began last year on Nov 21 and was completed one year ahead of schedule, TEPCO officials said. In total, 1,535 fuel rods were removed from the pool, of which 204 were unused. The rods were transferred to a safer storage pool.

The completion of the operation is considered a major step in the plant's decommissioning process.

However, TEPCO officials said the same process at reactors No. 1-3 will be much more difficult. Radiation levels are higher because of core meltdowns.

Carefully plucking the damaged fuel assemblies from the reactor building is being seen as a test of TEPCO's ability to move ahead with decommissioning the whole facility - a task likely to take decades.

The removal has to be conducted under water. If the rods are exposed to air or if they break, huge amounts of radioactive gases could be released into the atmosphere. Each assembly weighs around 300 kg and is 4.5 meters long.

TEPCO has been slowly pulling the assemblies out of the submerged racks by crane, before transferring them to a heavy steel cask, designed to shield workers from radiation during the operation.

© Japan Today/Thomson Reuters

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Awrighty, step 0.5 out of 5000 complete! TEPCO is shining bright, bring on the Olympics!

1 ( +8 / -7 )

Glad it's done. Now on to Building 1, where the work will begin in ....2019? And end ... well, time is relative, isn't it, and nukes are so cheap and safe, and the radiation level will drop the longer we wait .... Did you feel that quake, by the way?

9 ( +11 / -2 )

On behalf of the citizens on Japan I would like to congratulate TEPCO for an outstanding effort in your continued perusal of keeping this a safety country. Let the fighting Samurai spirit remain within. Hold your head high TEPCO.

-4 ( +4 / -8 )

Farmboy it is relative and this plant was defective. While this happens millions of people around the world will die from pollution from fossil fuel plants. The air, ground and water will be polluted by mercury and increase radiation levels. Think about Beijing and the happy people. How many die there a day? How many people died as a direct result of Fukushima?

-7 ( +5 / -12 )

Consider that we are about three and a half years since the accident and the is the easiest of the removals of just the stored fuel rods. No one yet has any idea how we remove the melted fuel rods in the reactor and the water pollution situation is still out of control with water tanks starting to give way. Many of the contracts are still being done by the Yakuza, workers are still egg cheated of their danger pay. There is still the question of just where do they get more workers to replace the for them next several decades. Meanwhile no one is held responsible for any of the on going problems. So perhaps we should wait a while before we start with the congratulations.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

And they said it couldn't be done, that TEPCO needed to hand over control to international experts...or we faced extinction.

I wonder what those 'experts' think now?

Actually, I know what they're thinking: "The public has short memories. We'll just wait for the next minor incident an start spreading fear and doubt again."

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

My admiration and respect to these workers who daily put there lives on the line for the greater good.

The rods were transferred to a safer storage pool.

A declaration that doesn't inspire confidence, a contradiction in terms by any standards.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

One small step, but I good one...Anyway can we put former TEPCO president, Shimizu on trial now? He refused some very sound advice from engineers that would have prevented most of this.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

So, that's the easy one finished. Well done! Let's hope they have the same success with the more difficult ones. On the dark side, they still have no where to permanently store these rods.

0 ( +1 / -1 )


Ask me again in 200 years or so, when the cleanup is finished, and we'll see.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If the rods are exposed to air...huge amounts of radioactive gases could be released into the atmosphere.

The unused rods can be exposed to air with no danger of any release and the used rods have by now been out of the reactor long enough that they can also be exposed to air with no danger of any release. In fact many plants transfer their used fuel rods to storage in air after 3 to 5 years.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Surprising that this information was even made public. Oh right, it's "good news" so it's ok.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Definitely a step in the right direction. Many more steps ahead.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Safer then cool burning plants. During the time for operation of the Fukushima plants they have saved many peorple from death which would have happened if the Electric energy had come from cool burning plants

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Step by step it come together. As sure as fossil fuel will surly kill us Nuclear may keep the lights on till something better comes along.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Congratulations to all of you!! Job well done.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


Please continue over the next hundred years as well.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

So finally we will be spared all the hysterical screaming about tilting fuel pool buildings and the end of the world because of unit 4. And a year ahead of schedule too.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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