Associated Press, Feb 6, 2015 (emphasis added): A snake-like robot designed to examine the inside of one of three melted reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is ready to begin its expedition… Using information gathered by the robot [TEPCO] plans to repair the damaged chambers enough so they can be filled with water… It is expected to enter the Unit 1 reactor as early as April… Expectations for the robot probe are high after earlier efforts at assessment produced limited success… After its trip, technicians plan to store the robot in a shielded box because of its extremely high radioactivity, and it will not be reused… Computer simulations indicate that all of the fuel rods in the Unit 1 reactor probably melted and fell to the bottom of the containment chamber, but until now there has been no way of confirming that… Because of the reactor damage, large volumes of cooling water continue to leak from them, causing contamination and hampering the plant’s cleanup process.
Wall St. Journal, Feb 6, 2015: For the first time since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in March 2011, engineers working for [TEPCO] could soon get their first view of nuclear fuel and debris around the melted-down reactors. It is widely believed that during the meltdowns of reactors No. 1-3… the overheated nuclear fuel also flowed out into the reactor vessels… Extracting the nuclear fuel and debris is the most important task involved in decommissioning… But nobody knows what state these deadly materials are in–even the radiation around the buildings storing the reactors is far too high for people to withstand… Now it is ready to examine the fuel and debris, perhaps as soon as April, with the help of a new robot…
The Economist, Feb 7, 2015: Mission impossible; An industrial clean-up without precedent – The stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is the world’s most complex and costly industrial clean-up… TEPCO’s early guess was that decommissioning would take 30-40 years. That is certainly optimistic. Engineers are grappling with problems with little precedent… Last October the utility pushed back the start of this removal work by five years, to 2025. Dale Klein, [Tepco adviser and former NRC chairman] says that the schedule for decommissioning the plant is pure supposition until engineers figure out how to remove all the fuel.
Taro Yamamoto, member of the Diet of Japan — House of Councillors representing Tokyo, published Feb 5, 2015: “In Fukushima, each reactor has about 90 tons [90,000 kg or ~200,000 lbs] of uranium. These are melting down daily.”
Published: February 8th, 2015 at 10:36 am ET
- Japan Times: “Deadly” radiation levels detected outside Fukushima containment vessel — “Details behind situation are unknown” — Officials unable to grasp location of melted nuclear fuel — “Impossible” to plan for decommissioning October 30, 2015
- AFP: Fears that molten fuel went into ground after melting through containment vessels at Fukushima — They still can’t find three reactor cores (AUDIO) January 23, 2014
- Tepco Adviser: 925 quadrillion Bq of contaminated water from trying to cool melted Fukushima cores in first few months after 3/11 — TV: “Tepco has no idea where the fuel is” (VIDEO) November 23, 2013
- NHK: Officials admit it may be impossible to stop leaking at Fukushima reactors — Will be investigating ‘bottom of containment vessels’ for holes — Gov’t asking engineers from outside Japan for help with melted fuel (VIDEOS) April 30, 2014
- Reuters: Fukushima fuel melted through containment vessels and is “spewing radiation” — Nuke Expert: Fuel has “scattered all over the place” — Gov’t: Fuel may have burned out into environment — Tepco Official: Fuel could have flowed out “like lava in a volcano” (VIDEOS) March 15, 2016