“Unprecedented”: Fukushima reactor “far worse than previously thought” — “Melted fuel has come in contact with underground water” — Molten core appears spread over “extensive area” — Japan “will have a much more difficult time decommissioning” — Official: “It’s a very big turning point” (VIDEO)

Published: January 31st, 2017 at 5:33 pm ET
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Asahi Shimbun, Jan 31, 2017: Images indicate bigger challenge for TEPCO at Fukushima plant… possible melted fuel is seen strewn on grating… Experts believe nuclear fuel melted the paint and components of equipment nearby and has hardened — If confirmed, the first images of melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant show that Tokyo Electric Power Co. will have a much more difficult time decommissioning the battered facility. The condition of what is believed to be melted fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the plant appears far worse than previously thought… [I]mages showed black lumps scattered on a wire-mesh grating in the lower part of the containment vessel… This indicates that the fuel melted through bottom of the pressure vessel, spilled through the grating and fell on the floor of the containment vessel… The images could show only part of the melted fuel in the No. 2 reactor. And there is still no indication on how widespread the black lumps were strewn, their volume and state.

Mainichi Daily News, Jan 31, 2017: Footage points to difficulty in removing possible melted fuel at Fukushima plant — The footage released on Jan. 30 by [TEPCO] showing what could be melted fuel inside the No. 2 reactor… has highlighted the difficulty of salvaging the object, which is apparently stuck to footholds and other equipment at the facility… black and brown sediments — possible melted fuel — are stuck inside the reactor’s containment vessel over an extensive area. “If what was captured in the footage was melted fuel, that would provide a major step forward toward trying our hand at unprecedented decommissioning work,” said [TEPCO's] Yoshiyuki Ishizaki… there were 548 nuclear fuel rods totaling some 164 metric tons inside the No. 2 reactor… The melted fuel has since come in contact with underground water flowing from the mountain side, generating radioactively contaminated water every day…

Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan 31, 2017: “It’s a very big turning point,” Yuichi Okamura, a senior official at TEPCO’s Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division, said at a press conference Monday. “We’ve obtained some valuable data toward work to extract melted nuclear fuel.”

Bloomberg, Jan 31, 2017: The unprecedented nature of the Fukushima disaster means that Tepco is pinning its efforts on technology not yet invented to get the melted fuel out of the reactors.

Watch Tepco’s footage from inside Unit 2 here

Published: January 31st, 2017 at 5:33 pm ET
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