This news report contains two critical pieces of information regarding the removal of used fuel at unit 4. TEPCO admits that some of the spent fuel is damaged, characterizing “most” of the fuel to be undamaged. What is not known is to what extent some of the fuel is damaged or how much fuel is not included in “most” being undamaged.
“Underwater inspections in the pond have shown most of the fuel to be undamaged, but the pond contains a lot of dust and debris which will complicate operations.”
The change that TEPCO will be placing transport casks into the reactor well to load fuel into them is a concerning development. Transport casks weight as much as 50,000 pounds. Reactor vessels were not designed to hold up this much weight on top of the reactor internal systems. This change indicates that TEPCO does not have confidence in the pool’s ability to hold the additional weight of a cask. This change will add many new unanalyzed risks to the fuel removal process.
“Transport containers will be placed in the empty and undamaged reactor vessel and the fuel will be transferred to them underwater using the fuel handling machine.”
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