Reuters, Nov. 12, 2013: The urgency to clear Reactor No. 4 of the fuel assemblies is because of the risk in having spent fuel stored at such a height – some 18 meters above ground level – in a building that has buckled and tilted and could collapse if another quake strikes. Also, if the pool housing the fuel assemblies is punctured and the water drains away, there could be a fire [...] threatening Tokyo […] As the water used to cool the rods has had to be pumped in from the ocean, there is a risk that some may have corroded from the seawater. […] [The fuel rods] contain plutonium, one of the most toxic substances known [...]
Bloomberg, Nov. 8, 2013: Engineers have been examining the stability of the reactor building to make sure no new vulnerabilities have developed that could lead to accidents during removal. Quarterly tests have also been conducted to ensure the building isn’t sinking because of soil subsidence, [Akira Ono, head of the Fukushima Daiichi plant] said.
Independent (UK), Nov. 8, 2013: Engineers must remove the fuel assemblies one by one, without incident, and each time deal with the risk of fire or the cooling water boiling dry. The building lists slightly but Tepco says it has been reinforced [...] Tepco had built an alarm system that would warn workers to evacuate if radiation climbed dangerously high. […]
Takashi Hara, head of the spent fuel removal operation at Unit 4, Nov. 12, 2013: “A lot of debris fell into the fuel pool as a result of the March 2011 hydrogen explosion. The large pieces of debris have been removed […] If, for some reason, the water levels drop, the fuel would quickly heat up.”
Ichiro Kazawa, 61, a former real estate manager from Hirono, nearby the plant, Nov. 12, 2013: “We are all worried … Every day we read news about the plant, and we are aware of their plans to remove the spent fuel rods […] Everybody’s concerned and just hoping there will be no major accidents. No one here trusts Tokyo Electric.”
Published: November 13th, 2013 at 12:20 am ET