Havarierte nuclear reactors: Experts recover fuel rods from nuclear Fukushima

The mission is tricky: In the next few years, experts want to recover more than five hundred fuel rods from the damaged nuclear power plant Fukushima. Now the work has started, but not everything went smoothly.

A good eight years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, the operator has once again begun to recover fuel rods from one of the destroyed unfortunate reactors.

Remote-controlled devices brought the radioactive contaminated fuel from the destroyed nuclear power plant, reports the operator Tepco. The focus was initially on seven unused fuel rods from the decay tank of reactor 3. Each fuel rod weighs around 45 tonnes.

In total, 566 spent and unused fuel rods are stored in the reactor and will be removed in the coming years. On Monday, however, the work had to be interrupted in the meantime due to technical problems. Difficulties were also caused by the dust, which was whirled up during the mission and intensified the radioactive radiation, said Tepco spokeswoman Yuka Matsubara.

Kyodo News / DPA

A monitor shows the interior of reactor 3

Reactors 1 to 3 were destroyed on March 11, 2011 as a result of an earthquake and tsunami. Because the cooling system failed, it came to meltdown. Because of the radioactive radiation around 160,000 residents had to flee at that time. Still, around 30,000 can not go back. The disaster was the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

1573 spent and unused fuel rods stored in the accident nuclear plant

In 2014, Tepco had already completed the salvage of reactor 4 fuel rods. Originally, the fuel rods should then be removed from reactor 3. The situation there, however, is much more complicated than in reactor 4. At the decay tank with the fuel it came in the wake of the nuclear power plant accident to explode. It took four years to clear the rubble first.


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In February, Tepco also used a robot to pick up several pebble-sized nuclear fuel residues in reactor 2. In the reactors were already more often robots on the road to search for molten fuel and take photos. Its recovery is considered the most difficult part in the dismantling of the nuclear ruins and should start according to Tepco only in 2021.

In total, 1573 spent and unused fuel rods are stored in the decay tanks of the three unfortunate reactors. Above all, the enormous amount of burned and still radiating fuel rods is a great challenge for the workers dar. The recovered fuel rods are to be relocated to another, safer pool on the site of the nuclear ruins.

REF: https://www.spiegel.de/wissenschaft/mensch/fukushima-tepco-zieht-brennstaebe-aus-dem-akw-a-1262899.html