Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) completed the removal of all fuel rods from a spent fuel pool in the No. 4 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Dec. 20, marking a milestone in TEPCO’s decommissioning efforts. The No. 4 reactor building suffered a hydrogen explosion in the early stage of the 2011 nuclear accident at the plant, and the continued fuel storage in the weakened building was a source of concern, prompting local residents to demand swift fuel removal.
In the work to take out the last four unspent fuel rods, a crane lifted a cask containing them out of the pool about 12 meters deep. TEPCO is poised to relocate all eliminated fuel rods to another spent fuel pool in the undamaged No.6 reactor building by the end of the year.
The No. 4 reactor was offline for regular checkups at the time of the earthquake-tsunami disaster and had no fuel inside. But there were a total of 1,535 fuel rods (1,331 riskier spent fuel rods and 204 unused ones) in the pool, the largest amount of fuel among the four reactor buildings wrecked by explosions.
TEPCO began removing fuel from the No.4 reactor pool in November last year. It plans to launch work to remove melted fuel from inside the No.3 reactor in the first half of fiscal 2015 beginning next April.