Reuters, Mar 11, 2016 (emphasis added): Today, the radiation at the Fukushima plant is still so powerful it has proven impossible to get into its bowels to find and remove the extremely dangerous blobs of melted fuel rods, weighing hundreds of tonnes… The fuel rods melted through their containment vessels in the reactors, and no one knows exactly where they are now… Tepco has been developing robots [to] negotiate obstacles in damaged tunnels and piping to search for the melted fuel rods.
Reuters, Mar 9, 2016: Five years on, melted fuel rods still spew radiation…
DW, Mar 11, 2016: The melted nuclear fuel and the destroyed pressure vessel in the nuclear reactors 1 to 3 continue to be major problems… “So far, nobody knows what exactly happened in there and how to solve it,” [Heinz Smital, a nuclear physicist] told DW. “Until now, there is no solution to recover the melted fuel rods from the reactors.”
News Corp Australia, Mar 11, 2016: Today, the radiation at the Fukushima plant is still so powerful it is impossible to extract and remove deadly melted fuel rods… [Tepco is] grappling with the fact that they don’t have the technology to find missing melted fuel rods in three reactors at the plant. The rods melted through containment vessels in the reactors.
Guardian, Mar 11, 2016: [It's] the most daunting task the nuclear industry has ever faced: removing hundreds of tons of melted fuel from the plant’s stricken reactors… something no nuclear operator has ever attempted… Of greatest concern, though, is reactor 1, where the fuel may have burned through the pressure vessel, fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel and into the concrete pedestal below – perhaps even outside it – according to a report by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning… Masuda and Tepco engineers who spoke to the Guardian conceded that they still didn’t know where the fuel is located. “To be honest, we don’t know exactly where the fuel is”… Masuda said… “No one has ever done what we’re doing”…
PBS Newshour, Mar 11, 2016 (at 35:15 in):
- Miles O’Brien, PBS correspondent: What about the melted fuel in the reactor cores? They aren’t even sure where it all is.
- Lake Barrett, Tepco advisor: Is it in one big vertical lump on the floor underneath it? Or did it come down and flow like lava in a volcano and move out to the sides? We don’t know yet… Nothing of this magnitude [i.e. the attempt to remove Fukushima’s melted fuel] has ever been done by mankind…
Interview with nuclear engineer Hiroaki Koide (translation by Prof. Robert Stolz, transcription by Akiko Anson), published Mar 8, 2016: We simply do not know where the core is or in what state it is… [The government and TEPCO] are convinced that the melted core fell through the bottom of the pressure vessel and now lie at the bottom of the containment vessel―basically piling up like nuggets of the melted core [See Lake Barrett's statement above]. There’s no way this would be the case. (Laughs)… It should have been scattered all over the place… Though the containment vessel is made of steel, if the melted core has come in contact with that steel, just as it ate through the floor of the pressure vessel, it could possibly have melted through the containment vessel… There are situations in which the containment vessel can suffer a melt-through. I think this likely has already happened.
Published: March 15th, 2016 at 8:13 pm ET