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TEPCO starts removing fuel rods from Fukushima No. 4 reactor

48 Comments
By Kyoko Hasegawa

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© 2013 AFP

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48 Comments
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Good luck everybody.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

It's hard to imagine a year without a TEPCO mistake, given the companies vast experience in mistakes, and that makes this even scarier.

5 ( +9 / -4 )

“the reactor’s storage pool is in an unstable condition”.

The entire plant is in unstable condition and will remain so until all the nuclear fuel, and the melted fuel assemblies are removed from the site which could take up to 100 years.

This is just the first major step to decommission the plant, and the easiest step at that!

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Welcome back Zichi. You predicted everything. Have missed you. I am worried about this whole procedure, goes wrong it's a massive disaster. Really really don't want to be intwined in another not of my own doing. I would and am paying more for a light, just wish it did not come with so much concern.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Have a plan ready to evacuate, just in case.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Jean: I honestly think that's a good idea at this point.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

To those ready to run... what about your Japanese friends who can't runn away? Shades of March 2011 again.

Back on topic, and fingers crossed that all goes to plan. I'm sure that the people carrying out this operation aren't the same agency workers/contractors who built the tanks.

-7 ( +1 / -8 )

Zichi: Thanks for the link but I think those photos are file photos showing the process, not actual photos of the work going on now.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The full decommissioning of Fukushima is likely to take decades and include tasks that have never been attempted anywhere in the world. Villages and towns nearby remain largely empty. Fear of radiation makes residents unable or unwilling to return to live in the shadow of the leaking plant.

So, why rely on such an unpredictable, dangerous, anti-people, dirty, precarious, inconveniencing and expensive source of electricity (nuke), which will keep japanese captives for decades? Bocz of money? Theres is more to life than money!! Germany has shown the way..

2 ( +3 / -1 )

techallNov.

Zichi: Thanks for the link but I think those photos are file photos showing the process, not actual photos of the work going on now.

Yes, the photo's show the No4 pool and the cask being lowered into the pool. Being a engineer, those photo's reveal a lot like the quality of the work to install the temp building, the new cranes, etc etc. I'm impressed by that.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Welcome back Zichi ! I guess I'm not the only one who missed you !

I really hope everything does go well ! I couldn't help noticing this sentence in the article :

While such operations are routine at other nuclear plants

...but until now, they said it's anything but "routine"... In one article it mentioned these "operations" being the first in the whole world...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@FightingViking

Thanks. I don't think anything that happens at the plant can be called "routine" which ceased following all the 3/11 disasters. Most countries with NPP's also have pools full of spent fuel because most haven't come up with a solution to the ten thousand year storage problem. Finland seems to be the only country building a storage depot?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Better to cleaning up in 1 year than 10. The cost will be ten times less...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Thunderbird2 In the event the poo did hit the fan, the only way you would be helping your Japanese friends (by staying in Japan) is if they used your body to shield themselves from the radiation.

Don't be afraid or ashamed of preparing a contingency plan EVER. If that means you have to help your friends from abroad then so be it. Better than being dead.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Every time I start reading "TEPCO starts ,,," I can't get the Benny Hill music out of my head.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

What exactly are your "contingency plans" should things go wrong and thousands of other people are running for the hills at he exact same time?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Tbird, always always have a contingency plan. My priority is to preserve the health and well-being of my loved ones.

If something goes terribly wrong during this process, which I hope does not, then it'll be time to preserve my family. My friends have the same responsibility to theirs.

There's an app named Tokyo Radiation that I'd recommend monitoring. It's free on PlayStore for Android.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Good question. I don't have contingency plans, because I already left :)

To be honest, I really don't know what you would do. It would depend a lot on your location and the severity of the incident. Regardless, it's a good idea to think of what you should do should an emergency arise. It doesn't matter whether that emergency be an earthquake, tsunami or another TEPCO FU.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If something goes terribly wrong during this process, which I hope does not, then it'll be time to preserve my family. My friends have the same responsibility to theirs.

jean Val-Jean - in other words your "contingency plan" is to get the hell out of dodge. Not exactly scientific.

So be it. But as Leslie Corrice said, theres no use in fear-mongering using dubious worst-case scenarios. I saw a shocking amount of it from posters on JT after 3/11 and it was shameful.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

Moomoochoo, Definitely agree. Gotta have a contingency plan regardless of the type of emergency.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Thunderbird: "To those ready to run... what about your Japanese friends who can't runn away? Shades of March 2011 again."

Stop with the whole 'stoicism' thing. If you had children and those children and yourself were in danger, you would obviously do what you could to protect everyone. It's not 'running'. What is 'running' are people like Shimizu, who fled to Osaka with 'stomach problems' when it was his responsibility to help run things and protect others. If and when TEPCO screws up again and causes yet another disaster through their negligence, people will do what they can to ensure their safety, and if that includes being able to leave the area, then great. If you seem to think that it's unfair that some cannot, I suggest you blame the cause and not the people who can find somewhere else. To suggest people should stay in harm's way willingly in the event of the worst is asinine.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

With all eyes watching and some essential technical know-how assistance from aboard, Tepco may be alright on No. 4 rector, for now.

However, if anyone really puts his or her faith in Tepco's shaky operations in longer run, that would be a big stretch. Tepco is beyond saving considering its huge liability(still counting) and its ethical integrity.

Speaking of contingency plan in personal lever, least one can do would be to start charting a route to find a safer place (nuclear radiation diminishes a great deal with distance) when the first sign of crisis emerges, Keep essential documents and survival/emergency kit with you close-by will help you navigate through the initial chaos. Furthermore, practicing your situation awareness all of the time will definitely increase your odds to save lives.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@ZICHI Welcome back and thanks.

@Thunderbird2 Thanks mate for the support!!!! Do you know how hard it is to save your family, wife and kids, knowing that you have left behind other family and friends????? think before you post, PLEASE. It's been over 2 years and we have been shuned by by people who we thought were friends because we did the correct thing for our kids future. Turns out it was jealousy and when asked they too would have evacuated as well if they could. I don't know you, Married, kids, business in Japan so on, so I'm not going to judge you. DO you live in or aorund Fukushime Ken??

@Moomoochoo, thanks for your kind words

2 ( +4 / -2 )

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/131118_01/131118_01.jpg <- I wonder why they pixelate the one joint n the front. hope its not due to som damage or so

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Apologies to anyone I've offended.

I have people I care about in Chiba prefecture and southern Tokyo. After 3/11 I went out there to make sure they were okay. I knew about the radiation spikes, and aftershocks, but I still went. Call it stupid if you like, but I felt guilty that I was safe on the other side of the planet while they could potentially have been killed.

I feel the same now with this going on at Fukushima. I feel guilty that I can't be there if the worst happens. I want to show my solidarity with my friends. It's not my country, not my home, but they are people I love and care about. Is that being stoic? Being stupid?

Again, sorry if I offended anyone.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thunderbird2 Apology accepted, just try and think about it from the side of people like myself who lived in fukushima, for 12 years, have property in Fukushima and was going to live, raise my family, 5 kids, and be buried in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Not a second goes by everyday that we don't think about our family and friends we left behind. By the sounds of it you don't live in Japan? Why did you have to write "Is that being stoic? Being stupid?"? Words are strong and hurt deep. Once again THINK before you write

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Fukushima: animation explains how fuel rod removal will happen http://www.theguardian.com/world/video/2013/nov/06/fukushima-animation-fuel-rod-removal-video

Produced by TEPCO???

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Germany has shown the way..

By increasing it's CO2 output, by building more coal power stations and importing energy from France. Really forward thinking there.

Experts have warned that slip-ups could trigger a rapid deterioration in the situation.

No quotes from Experts though. The media are struggling to find anyone credible to give the doomsday quotes they need to make it newsworthy so they make it up. Not sure where all the fear is coming from, it's certainly not coming from the experts.

-5 ( +2 / -7 )

This article is scary: http://www.naturalnews.com/042952_Fukushima_fuel_rods_inadvertent_criticality.html

One wrong move and Fukushima could poison the entire northern hemisphere with deadly radioactive plutonium and uranium isotopes with half lives of millions of years. In the worst case, it could turn the soils into poison across nearly half the planet, causing much of the northern hemisphere to be uninhabitable by humans.

Is this possible or an exaggeration?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Alex80,

The aim of the article is to take the worst possible outcome and exaggerate it, using quotes from blogs as support. This is not to say it isn't risky, but the article gets ridiculous painting disaster after disaster. What is going on right now is dangerous, and not as dangerous as the operations to come. That reality should be enough for anyone without adding extra spice. This operation has to be done. I wish them luck.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Farmboy: I guess you are right. Thank you. I'm rather confused. Sadly there is a lack of informations about the worst case scenario in mainstream media, and you can find something about it only in questionable sites like that.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I do not feel good about this.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So ..... These rods will be moved to a storage area.

Then what?

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

horsefella, feel free to have no plan. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Yes, there is real risk in the operation which has begun, and more later. Better to err on the side of safety.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@Nipporinoel

So ..... These rods will be moved to a storage area. Then what?

There are more than 6,000 spent fuel assemblies in reactors 1-6 (reactors 5&6 and 4 were empty at the the time of the 3/11 disaster, but there's fuel in the spent fuel pools) and also the common pool which is 90%+ full.

The dry cask storage unit is also full. There's going to be major storage problems when all the spent nuclear fuel is removed. Then there's all the scrap from dismantling the reactors.

The number of spent fuel assemblies multiplied by 50 NPP's gives an idea of the size of the problem,

Except for Finland, all countries with NPP's have not found a solution to the ten thousand year storage problem of spent nuclear fuel.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Thunderbird: There's no need to apologize. I'm willing to bet a whole lot of people, foreigners or not, who have a chance to move to a safe location feel bad for those who cannot, but that is not at all the same as 'running' from something. Throwing yourself in the face of danger when there's no reason to it is simply endangering one more person who does not need to be in danger. If it's jumping in and helping people, I can understand, but how do you fight radiation? If the worst happens, there is absolutely nothing that can be accomplished by staying behind, and worse if you decide to go there and 'help'.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

horsefella, feel free to have no plan. Stiff upper lip and all that.

Yes, there is real risk in the operation which has begun, and more later. Better to err on the side of safety

.

Jean - looks to me like my "contingency plan" of buying a ticket out should the sky start to fall, is exactly the same as your well-thought out brilliance. In the meantime, I will live my life.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

" Jean - looks to me like my "contingency plan" of buying a ticket out should the sky start to fall, is exactly the same as your well-thought out brilliance. In the meantime, I will live my life."

You might rethink the flying out bit, unless you plan to fly west from western Japan.

Having a contingency plan ready is a matter of basic preparedness. I prefer to be prepared if possible.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

The ten thousand year problem of storing spent nuclear fuel is one faced by all nations with NPP's and only one country, Finland, is working on finding a solution.

This will become a serious problem here in Japan. Work still has not started to decommission the nation's first commercial nuclear reactor simply because there's still no disposal site for the radioactive waste.

The Tokai nuclear power plant which was shut down in 1998 was due to be decommissioned back in 2011 and then postponed until 2014, which is unlikely to happen now.

The Tokai nuclear plant will produce 28,000 tons of low level radioactive waste and 1,600 tons of high level radio active waste which must be buried 50-100 meters below ground.

Prior to the 3/11 nuclear disaster the gov't estimated there are 50,000 tons of nuclear waste which needs to be buried. This will now double or even more.

The problem with nuclear energy is that it remains a problem for ten thousand years?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Yale University professor Charles Perrow wrote about the number 4 fuel pool this year in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. He said one pool contains 10 times the amount of radioactive caesium present in the Chernobyl disaster and warned one slip-up with the removal could trigger a chain reaction. "This has me very scared," he told the ABC. "Tokyo would have to be evacuated because [the] caesium and other poisons that are there will spread very rapidly. "Even if the wind is blowing in the other way, it's going to be monumental."

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Charles Perrow???? Emeritus professor of sociology at Yale Uni and visiting professor at Standford Uni. Author of several books. Author of "Nuclear denial:From Hiroshima to Fukushima" published by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 2013 69(5):56-67

Subscription site?? http://bos.sagepub.com/content/69/5/56.abstract?rss=1 otherwise, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/charles-perrow/fukushima-forever_b_3941589.html

But his message is backed up by Dr Simon R R Atkins?? Who according to some sources is not a real doc? Alternative medicine but nothing nuclear?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Professor Charles Perrow warning us about nuclear plant operations.

So Jean Val-Jean do you ask an professor of engineering about how to treat your cold?

Perrow's clais are pure unadulterated FUD. But if you want to listen to him, I have a magic space rock I will sell you that will protect you from radiation, it also does wonders for acne.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Mike O'Brien, I don't particularly care for Perrow's analyses, however he writes about accident dynamics. His opinion is only one among many various opinions.

You might find a buyer for your magic space rock/acne cure on E-Bay.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

So Jean, you don't care for his analysis but you go ahead and quote his gloom and doom FUD. Now I understand your comments.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Perrow's clais are pure unadulterated FUD

As I said before, they can't find any actual experts to quote for these doomsday articles. They certainly can't get them from scientists. And as I posted the other day 'Fears regarding environmental radioactivity, often a legacy of Cold War activities and distrust of governmental and scientific authorities, have resulted in perception of risks by the public that are not commensurate with actual risk'

And that comes from a peer reviewed paper on PNAS

*Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

PNAS is one of the world's most-cited multidisciplinary scientific serials. Since its establishment in 1914, it continues to publish cutting-edge research reports, commentaries, reviews, perspectives, colloquium papers, and actions of the Academy*

1 ( +2 / -1 )

My disposal plan would involve the Mariana Trench. Space the fuel rods about 100 meters apart and set them down in the trench. But I see that's already been thought of:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marianas_Trench#Possible_nuclear_waste_disposal_site

(DOH! Stupid international laws!)

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

My disposal plan would involve the Mariana Trench. Space the fuel rods about 100 meters apart

Why space them 100 meters apart? They are currently within 6 inches of each other with no ill effects?

But better yet, why throw away valuable materials?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

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