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New images show all melted fuel is “gone” from Fukushima reactor — Experts: Molten core may have reached outer environment, can’t tell if fuel is still contained — Official: “We presume fuel still in containment vessel… but we need to check one day” (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

Published: March 20th, 2015 at 10:52 am ET
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NHK, Mar 19, 2015 (emphasis added): Images show no fuel inside No.1 reactor core — Researchers say X-ray-like photos of a crippled reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have confirmed that no nuclear fuel remains in the reactor core… extremely high radiation levels have prevented experts from locating and determining the state of the molten fuel. Experts… have succeeded in taking X-ray-like photos of the plant’s No.1 reactor… But they did not find fuel inside the core… Experts say the finding that most of the fuel had leaked out of the reactor core underlines the difficulties faced in scrapping the reactor.

Kyodo News, Mar 20, 2015: Tepco confirms nearly all fuel melted, sank into vessel, in Fukushima No. 1 unit — [TEPCO] said Thursday it has confirmed that nearly all fuel in reactor 1 at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has melted and fallen into the containment vessel… The result marks the first confirmation of a meltdown

Mainichi, Mar 20, 2015: (TEPCO) released a “see-through” image of the No. 1 reactor… on March 19, suggesting that most of the nuclear fuel was no longer in the reactor… The inside of the reactor’s pressure vessel, which holds the nuclear fuel, showed as white, meaning that most of the fuel was gone. The muons should have shown the presence of fuel rods around one meter or longer… It marks the first time the interiors of the Fukushima plant’s reactors have been directly photographed… TEPCO plans to insert a camera-equipped robot into the lower part of the containment vessel to look for the melted fuel.

TEPCO spokesman, Mar 19, 2015: “The latest study provided further data that we like to regard as a progress in our effort to determine the exact locations of the debris.”

AFP, Mar 20, 2015: Nuclear experts said Friday that the test showed the nuclear fuel rods had melted beyond recognition… “But there has been no evidence that the fuel has melted through the nuclear containment buildings and reached the outer environment,” [Hiroshi Miyano, a visiting professor at Hosei University] told AFP. However, the test… did not look at the bottom part of the reactor, with some experts suggesting it was not possible to tell if the fuel was still contained… “Eventually, TEPCO is aiming to scoop out the melted fuel little by little, rather than burying it in concrete“… Miyano said… [The process] reveals exactly where the fuel is — or isn’tlying…  “We presume that despite the meltdown, the fuel is still in the containment vessel,” said Tomohisa Ito, a spokesman for the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning [which includes both TEPCO and Hitachi-GE as members]… “But we still need to directly check the situation one day using remote-controlled robots,” he said.

Watch NHK’s broadcast here

Published: March 20th, 2015 at 10:52 am ET
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489 comments

489 comments to New images show all melted fuel is “gone” from Fukushima reactor — Experts: Molten core may have reached outer environment, can’t tell if fuel is still contained — Official: “We presume fuel still in containment vessel… but we need to check one day” (PHOTOS & VIDEO)

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