Due to International Pressure (Or Typhoon Damage?), Tepco Agrees to Start Removing Radioactive Fuel from Fukushima a Year Early

George Washington's picture


Tepco was going to wait until late 2013 to even begin to start addressing the greatest threat to humanity.

There is some good news.

Specifically – due to international pressure – Tepco has agreed to speed up the timetable.  As Reuters notes:

Workers at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will begin removing fuel rods from a damaged reactors a year ahead of schedule, a government minister said Thursday, a move to address concerns about the risk of a new quake that could cause a further accident and scatter more radioactive debris.




“We would like to start taking out undamaged fuel this year. Preparation is now under way,” Japan’s nuclear crisis minister, Goshi Hosono, told Reuters in an interview.


“Doing it quickly is important. But we also have to make sure those workers out there, who are struggling under harsh conditions, will not be endangered by trying to move things fast.”

Postscript:  Of course, some theorize there is a more disturbing explanation of Tepco's willingness to move up the timeframe.  For example, Fukushima Diary and What Really Happened claim that the roof of Building 4 is now GONE - perhaps due to damage from typhoon Guchol - and that the building is in real trouble.

However, videos posted at EneNews appear to show that Tepco simply removed the roof with a crane as part of its ongoing work.

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Lmo Mutton's picture


Tokyo Exponentially Poor Climate Organization

Muppet's picture

I'm no expert but pictures like this one taken by TEPCO on June 14 of reactor unit 2 look not so good for a site reportedly in "cold shutdown"....   Doesn't look cold to me at all.




Jim in MN's picture

I read that TEPCO had placed a steel plate over that pool, for some reason.  It would make sense to keep debris from falling in while they remove the damaged structure around it. 

The stuff doesn't just detonate at once in the air; it heats up because water is a good neutron absorber, as is graphite and other materials.  It takes a while for a 'naked' rod to get hot enough to burn even in the absence of these moderators.  I assume they are going to go for dry cask storage, but even so it's a tricky and dangerous job.  It's a LOT of rods/assemblies to move in an unconventional way.  By now you'd figure they would plan for when one falls or breaks apart in midair.........right? 

Arnold Ziffel's picture

I am still waiting here on the beach in Orgeon for the core of Reactor#4 to float up into the sand next to the concrete dock that washed ashore here from japan a few days ago......it will be very spectacular at night they tell me....all aglow and such....

TrainWreck1's picture

China will accept them and recycle them into luminescent puppy treats.


g speed's picture

i seem to recall that #4 was using a different fuel (plutonium?) than the other reactors--might this be correct? and also that #4 had a far larger quantity than the others in its spent fuel pool-- 

etudiant's picture

Duplicate post   Sorry

etudiant's picture

Reactor 3, which blew up spectacularly, had an experimental amount (less than 10%) of so called Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOF) containing plutonium and uranium oxyde fuel elements, It is an ongoing disaster and will not be even workable for some years.

Reactor 4 had a fresh  uranium oxyde based fuel load when it was shut down and emptied for its maintenance cycle. Fresh fuel does not yet contain the many fission products that gradually build up in spent fuel, so it is much less radioactive.

However, that spent fuel pool also contains fuel from previous cycles, which is stil more radioactive although somewhat cooled because of decay. 

The focus on the relatively minimally damaged reactor 4 spent fuel pool, which has incidentally been structurally reenforced after the earthquake and explosions is difficult to understand when there are three nuclear meltdowns smoking next door, all of which also have spent fuel pools loaded with used fuel.

SuccorMoney's picture

Doing it quickly is important. This is good news.  We in the rest of the Northern Hemisphere should offer the Japanese any and all help.  This is a really big threat, addressing it is a really big deal.

Skip's picture

GW, like you, I'm ALWAYS suspicious about ANYTHING either Tepco/Japanese government, or the US government says about this disaster, that said, I really do feel that this is the best news we have had since March 11, 2011.

Let's hope and pray and perhaps PRESSURE has been put on the Japanese and that it worked, of course your other reason that was proffered is much scarier, let's go with the INTERNATIONAL PRESSURE, at least until we know for sure.

Those Japanese were burning radioactive waste and that was CRIMINAL.

Milton Freewater's picture

I have more confidence in a van full of sheet rockers than TEPCO.



steve from virginia's picture


Washington's blog needs better sources than Fuku Diary and Mike Rivero, how about vids, instead:


You can see for yourself the machine removing the roof struts on reactor 4.

 - Tepco needs to remove fuel from reactors 5 and 6. Nothing wrong with the fuel handling in these units.

 - Commercial operators never remove energized fuel from cores or spent fuel pools. The equipment to move it does not exist (spent fuel is left in the SFPs to cool for ten years or so then removed to a common pool or dry cask storage). Tepco is reasonably concerned about moving 'hot' fuel as a misstep would be catastrophic.

 - Military operators handle energized fuel - military reactor operators should be consulted and appropriate equipment built to handle/move the spent fuel offsite.

 - Unit 4 SFP has over 1000 tons of energized fuel, enough to turn Japan into a wasteland. It doesn't need to explode, only be exposed to the air where it will burst into radioactive flame. The outcome of this infernal fire would be a reactor complex too radioactive to approach within a mile.

Figure out for yourselves the consequences of such a fire and abandonment of thousands more tons of radioactive fuel also to burn.


Stuck on Zero's picture

Energized fuel??  What's that.  Fuel rod bundles are routine plucked out of reactors and moved over to fuel pools.  It happens every two to five years at power stations.  The spent fuel pools are storage for the rods until they can figure out what to do with them: reprocessing or deep storage.


bjonsson's picture

That's because those fuel rods are removed one by one, individually.  No chance of criticality.  If you remove an ENTIRE CORE, you get BIG problems.

HungrySeagull's picture

Which was why I suggested bringing the sun into the plant by nuking the place more than a year ago.

That was then, thinking on the hellish inferno that might happen here... I need a drink.

Basically Japan would become a place where there is no humanity or law and other Lands including areas of the USA will become too hot to enter and thus havens of no law. Only the rule of the strongest.

I get a chill every time I go by TMI, knowing a failure there will render all north east USA uninhabitable for 10 thousand years.

And I used to live and breathe targeting data versus effects.

Freddie's picture

Basically Japan would become a place where there is no humanity or law and other Lands including areas of the USA will become too hot to enter and thus havens of no law. Only the rule of the strongest.

A lot of people voted for this in 2008 in the United States.  This is a global issue and what is more important to the f**wit? Trayvon, amnesty, gun running to the drug carels, golf and hoops.

myne's picture

I hope they have a plan B.

I hope they're drilling a very deep hole right next to the rods, below the water table. I hope they plan in a last ditch moment to let all of the fuelrods fall into that hole and to do their melty best. I hope they have the ability to funnel a giant melting pool of material into this hole and then fill it with tonnes and tonnes of concrete.

Most of all, I hope their plan A works. But having a plan B that is less than optimal, but can be performed with existing tools (oil drills) and the pin pulled fairly quickly should plan A fail, is very important.

I fear they're committing all their resources to a plan A that has every chance of going wrong.


slewie the pi-rat's picture

international pressure?  well, we write and share news and perspctives here...

the biggest difference in my life last 4 years:  my neighborhood and the food i'm eating are way more radioactive than before prez0 was elected and that fuking tsunami, too

<The Fukushima GyreSHEPHERD BLISS “Nuclear Free Zone” reads the comforting, official sign at the corner of Highway 116 and Lynch. It welcomes people coming into Sebastopol from the south. “What’s a nuclear free zone?”

this is the local consciousness starting to go:  huh? people with 8th graders and so on;  actually, physics teachers with 8th graders;  when i first read this, i wasn't sure how to present it here

it seems so naive after having slugged it out with the industry, last year on zH, in real time

but these are completely certified world-class nannies, BiCheZ!   and this is political! 

they will get to the point where they must face that fact that nobody can do squat;  that fact will not matter;  they will just start ripping off people's heads and shitting down their necks, since they will want it fixed, and fixed right, too;  especially #4, dammit!  and N0W!

if you would like to partake in this march on nukuler "reason" hit the link  <The Fukushima Gyre>    and see what you can do;  they are organized!  do not doubt the local pirate here...  sebastopol has sister cities in japan and ukraine;  if you would like to confront the shitheads in charge of the mess a fuk_u, this is the best bet, imo

don't worry about the small stuff with "agandae" here;  if you want fuk_u fixed, slewie would recommend giving these totally-ready-for-fightClub BiCheZ yer proxy ASAP!

and stay tooned...

Freddie's picture

Hope and (radioactive) Chains

etudiant's picture

The top of reactor 4 has been dismantled as part of the cleanup, as can be seen in photos talen during a recent visit by journalists and Minister Hosono:  http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2012/201205-e/120528-02e.html

The number 4 reactor spent fuel pool has been covered by metal plates, to allow the debris removal to continue more easily.

The focus on reactor 4, which was unloaded at the time of the disaster, is surprising to me. Right next to reactor 4 are three other reactors, all of which have melted down and are in unknown shape, but are leaking highly radioactive water and vapor.

Fixing reactor fours spent fuel pool will do precisely nothing to reduce contamination or improve safety. If spent fuel were a problem, it would be better to empty the common pool, which has more spent fuel in it than all the other reactor pools put together.

This focus on a non problem is symptomatic imho of the current wave of stupidity in government. Other illustrations are found abundantly around the world, here in the US, in Europe, in China and elsewhere. There must be a common cause, it is too widespread to just blame a few politicians.

bjonsson's picture

The reason for the focus on the #4 spent fuel pool is because it is the most STRUCTURALLY UNSOUND of the four reactor buildings.  The "cover" over the spent fuel pool achieves absolutely nothing if the pool itself collapses.  This would expose the equivalent of multiple cores of fuel to the open air which could potentially ignite the zirconium fuel encasing and start a radiation-emitting inferno that CAN'T be extinguished with water.

Divine Wind's picture

The focus on the SFP of #4 is because the pool is filled with spent fuel, still incredibly dangerous and HOT.

Word is that at the time of the accident the pool failed, water leaked out and they started getting local criticalities.

The building is failing. If the SFP, which is over 100 feet in the air, comes tumbling down or an earthquake causes the pool to fail, the results will completely dwarf what has occurred so far.


Stuck on Zero's picture

The best thing that could happen to the spent fuel pool is to have it spill its content all over the place.  Together, all the spent fuel rods are dangerous as hell.  Separated they are safe.  All the fuel at the site needs to be removed and popped into dry storage cannisters. 


donsluck's picture

Unfortunatly spent fuel rods ignite (you know, catch fire) when exposed to the air for any more than a few minutes. It's time for us all to familiarize ourselves with the nuances of nuclear energy.

HungrySeagull's picture

I for one have managed to actually think about what happened to the USS Ronald Reagen CVN when she was using the wash down system that is reserved for nuclear war or related in the area. It was not long after when Stratfor reported the carrier is in unscheduled dock.

From thence to thinking about evacuating Japan as a entire operation to the loss of the West Coast and irradiating fo the USA and Europe...

I suppose we can do well enough by converting a room with lead sheets from a foundry to make a shelter or something.

williambanzai7's picture

Tornado risk. You heard it here first...


el Gallinazo's picture

Man the tornadoes!  Full speed ahead!

old naughty's picture

Oh you mean penta-tornadoes? One for each reactor? OMG.

Urban Roman's picture

A year early?

Didn't they mean to say a year late?

ThirdWorldDude's picture

In their eyes it doesn't really matter, since they know at least 2 out of 4 reactors are in a "China syndrome" mode...


Nage42's picture

They'll be taking them down to Tokyo to be burned in an even hotter furnace and distributed as ash across all of Japan and the world so that "everyone can share the burden together," like they did with the contaminated debris earlier in the year.

It's the Japanese way.

HungrySeagull's picture

No sir. We are now at war with a creation of our own making. Nature is strong and we don't have the time to sit around for years.

We are going to lose workers, equipment etc until this thing is finished. It is my hope that this thing gets done in time and all reactors of this design are taken off line.

As far as the fuel... ship the damn things by rocket into the Sun. Or bury it in Yucca mountain or some other place.

donsluck's picture

Are you volunteering YOUR back yard? With an agreement for neither you nor your heirs to ever sell?

old naughty's picture

The sun consciousness says no fxxxing way.

I am Jobe's picture

Just ship them to CA.

hivekiller's picture

So where are they removing the fuel rods to?

Divine Wind's picture

Above ground (ground level) dry cask storage.

CIABS's picture

How about Diego Garcia?  That would irradiate the safe haven areas that the elites are planning to move to.

Golden monkey's picture

All of this was caused by TEPCO refusing to use sea water to cool down their installations, not a typhoon, a tsunamis, or even a prostitute in Tokyo.

Divine Wind's picture




Respectfully, this is not true. We know this because tremendous amounts of radioactive Sulfur was produced.

This came from seawater being used to cool the reactors.





Freddie's picture

The place was a total mess from the tsunami and then things blew up from venting too.  They used Yakuza wino slave labor for maintenance too.  The Ukrainian sprobably maintained Chrernobyl better.

The pictures I saw recently are a total mess.  I have no idea where they can even start and neither do they.  For all the money Japan wasted on govt spending/yakuza skimming - they could have built a better breakwater.  A reactor a bit further north had a slighlty higher breakwater and had no problems.  

Divine Wind's picture



This disaster scares me.

Do you believe TPTB when they tell you there is no danger from the fallout this place has ejected into the atmosphere?

Care to see what has been deposited in your area?

You can get your air filters tested for radioactive fallout (hot particles) from Fukushima completely free.

http://www.RadTest4U.com .




old naughty's picture

Remain calm...It merely means we will evolve into a radioactive being.

May be we get a green-ish glow in the dark, like them.

Joebloinvestor's picture


When you have to do something, make it sound like you are doing everyone a favor.

knukles's picture

What undamaged fuel rods?

Remain Calm. 
Back to Work.

old naughty's picture

Remain calm...we have a very long half life to go.