Unplanned Events

Removal Of Fukushima Fuel Debris Could Last Until 2051, Tepco Says

By Kamen Kraev
14 March 2016

14 Mar (NucNet) Work on the removal of melted fuel (corium) debris from the damaged reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear site could last up to 2051 according to “initial calculations”, owner and operator Tokyo Electric Power Corporation (Tepco), told NucNet.

No final decision has been taken on a completion date for decommissioning work at Fukushima-Daiichi, but initial estimates show that clean-up activities could take between 30 and 40 years after the March 2011 accident, the utility said.

According to Tepco, there is corium debris in the reactor pressure vessels or containment vessels of Units 1, 2, and 3 at the station, which was severely damaged by an earthquake and resulting tsunami on 11 March 2011. Unit 4 was not loaded with fuel at the time.

Tepco said the most important tasks in the decommissioning process are the removal of fuel from the spent fuel pools in the reactor buildings and the removal of the melted and solidified fuel.

Tepco secured one trillion yen (€8bn, $8.8bn) for the first phase of decommissioning and recovery work at Fukushima-Daiichi from 2011 to 2013. In 2013, the company announced it had secured another one trillion yen, bringing the total existing budget to two trillion yen.

Public attitudes in Japan towards nuclear related issues like plant operation, final storage and disposal, and the eventual restart of nuclear power generation remain negative, Tepco said. A recent poll by local media showed that 30 percent were in support of nuclear restarts, while 53 percent were opposed and 17 percent undecided.

Asked about the possibility of restarting Tepco’s two other nuclear power stations, Kashiwazaki Kariwa and Fukushima-Daini which were shut down following the 2011 accident, Tepco said it is still “not ready” to ask residents or stakeholders about possible restarts, but steps are being taken towards “initiating communication” with all stakeholders, the regulators and the government.

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