The head of IRID made this interesting admission during the fall meeting of Atomic Energy Society of Japan last week. He admitted that the melted fuel for unit 1 is outside the pedestal and could possibly be outside of containment.
He cited this situation as being one of the reasons they are looking into alternative methods of fuel extraction, not just TEPCO’s initial idea of extraction through the reactor vessel. He did state that they think units 2 and 3 are less likely to be outside of the pedestal structure but didn’t elaborate why they consider these other units to have different behaviors.
Work will be under way within the year to try to insert Hitachi’s shape changing robot into the containment structures of the three units that had meltdowns. This effort should gather critical information on the fuel location and condition of the containment structures. IRID and a number of the prime contractors at Daiichi have been focused on the more complex work to deal with the reactors since 2013.
This admission by IRID may be part of an evolution of the need to finally admit information about the state of the reactors in order to deal with decommissioning them. Our early research indicated this condition at unit 1 was the case as far back as 2012. Since IRID’s task is to actually deal with the problem they have the need to be honest and provide reliable information that can be acted upon.
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