Associated Press, Oct. 30, 2013: Japanese regulators on Wednesday gave final approval for the removal of fuel rods [to] start in November [...] About 200 of the rods that are unused and safer are expected to be the first [...] Nuclear regulatory chairman Shunichi Tanaka, however, warned that removing the fuel rods from Unit 4 would be difficult because of the risk posed by debris that fell into the pool during the explosions. “It’s a totally different operation than removing normal fuel rods from a spent fuel pool,” Tanaka said at a regular news conference. “They need to be handled extremely carefully and closely monitored. You should never rush or force them out, or they may break.” He said it would be a disaster if fuel rods are pulled forcibly and are damaged or break open when dropped from the pool, located about 30 meters (100 feet) above ground, releasing highly radioactive material. “I’m much more worried about this than contaminated water,” Tanaka said. [...]
Channel 4 (UK), Oct. 15, 2013: The worst case scenario is if the fuel assemblies are dropped, which could ultimately lead to a partial meltdown [...]
VoA News, Oct. 15, 2013: That hydrogen explosion [...] left the inside of the pool littered with debris. [...] TEPCO’s first task is to remove the debris. [...] The fuel rods must be kept submerged and must not touch each other or break. Nuclear experts warn any mishaps could cause an explosion many times worse than in March 2011.
NHK WORLD, Oct 30, 2013: [...] The firm hopes to begin the removal at the facility’s Number 4 reactor on November 8th. Tokyo Electric plans to check whether the rods are damaged by debris that fell into the pool in March 2011, and to ensure that they do not get caught in the debris during the removal process. [...]
See also: "Nothing like this has ever been attempted" -- Yale Professor: "All of humanity will be threatened for 1000s of years" if rods in Unit 4 pool touch and have nuclear reaction during removal process -- Tepco: "Not clear" if fuel is already damaged
Published: October 30th, 2013 at 7:04 am ET