Monday, April 16, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 4 to Get a Cover and a Crane

From TEPCO's press release on 4/16/2012, English:

Press Release (Apr 16,2012)
General Plan and Start of Main Work of the Cover for Fuel Removal of Unit 4 in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

Based on "Mid-to-Long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1-4" which was announced on Dec. 21, 2011, we started the preparation work for the installation of the cover for fuel removal of Unit 4 on Mar. 23, 2012.

We would like to inform that we will start the main work for the installation of the cover for fuel removal on Apr. 17.

As the first step of the main work, we will conduct the foundation improvement work in order to strengthen the foundation which supports the foundation of the frame for supporting the crane which is a part of the cover for fuel removal.

At the same time, we will conduct the countermeasure to prevent rainwater from penetrating into Unit 4 Reactor Building.

Attachment: General plan of the cover for fuel removal of Unit 4 in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (PDF 121KB)

Image of the cover for fuel removal of Unit 4 in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (This picture shows only a image of the general plan, therefore it can differ from the actual structure.)

From the TEPCO attachment:

Structure: The size of the cover for fuel removal is approximately 69m (South-North) x approximately 31m (East-West) x approximately 53m (height). Mainly it is a steel construction, the sidewall and roof are planned to be covered by the jacket
materials which block wind and rain. There are the slopes on the roof and the top
of the sidewall which prevents rainwater from penetrating.


LC Douglass said...

This seems like they are picking up pace. I wonder if it is a reaction to the earthquakes on April 12-15?

Anonymous said...

I kind of get an overall impression that they're dragging their heels on purpose. I wonder if they would have even bothered with the above if everyone wasn't complaining about how dangerous the fuel pools are?

Anonymous said...

REUTERS AlertNet: "Fukushima Damage Leaves Spent Fuel at Risk - US Lawmaker", by Roberta Rampton, April 16, 2012. []

Excerpt..."Japan, with assistance from the U.S. government, needs to do more to move spent fuel rods out of harm's way at the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden on Monday.

Wyden, a senior Democratic senator on the Senate Energy committee, toured the ruined Fukushima plant on April 6, and said the damage was far worse than he expected...

"Seeing the extent of the disaster first-hand during my visit conveyed the magnitude of this tragedy and the continuing risks and challenges in a way that news accounts cannot," said Wyden in a letter to Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the United States.

Wyden said he was most worried about spent fuel rods stored in damaged pools adjacent to the ocean, and urged the Japanese government to accept international help to prevent further release of the radioactive material if another earthquake should happen.

In a statement on his website, Wyden said the only protection for the pools from another tsunami appeared to be "a small, makeshift sea wall erected out of bags of rock."

Wyden said the spent fuel should be moved to safer storage sooner than anticipated under a 10-year clean-up plan from TEPCO, the owner of the nuclear plant"...

Anonymous said...

"TEPCO'S New Clothes"

Anonymous said...

Further to the above Reuters Alert, here's a link to Senator Ron Wyden's website:

It has links to the letters Senator Wyden wrote to: Ambassador Fujisaki, Secretary of Energy Chu, Secretary of State Clinton and NRC Chairman Jaczko.

The cavalry is coming...TEPCO is moving on that cover for unit 4.

Anonymous said...

this is finally great news, everything will be OK now

Anonymous said...

Until TEPCO is removed from decision making on matters that involve money, foot dragging will continue.

Atomfritz said...

I hope soon the common spent fuel storage which is at almost sea level just behind reactor 4 comes back into focus soon.

It is damaged, too, and contains four times more spent fuel than all the damaged reactor buildings together.

Imagine if the land at Fuku-I sinks a bit next earthquake and these 6300+ spent fuel assemblies suddenly are submerged by shallow ocean water!

Aigars Mahinovs said...

Fuel rods that are not damaged do not leak radiation, so even if a pool could be 'submerged by shallow ocean water' that would not cause any radiation leakage, just more efficient cooling.

This plan has been in progress since last year. The fuel needs to be in that pool for a while before it can be safely removed. If they started pulling fuel rods out the next day, the rods would overheat and melt before they could be transported. They need cooling off for at least a year under water, that is the whole reason the fuel storage pools are right there in the reactor building.

It is essential that the structures that need to be built for the removal operation are well designed and structurally solid, so they can safely lift any debri in the pool and be earthquake-proof itself. That takes a lot of time for both engineering and construction.

Also cover on 4 is not essential, it is only needed if the continued influx of rainwater could overflow the storage pool.

Anonymous said...

Laprimavera, if you've got a moment, could you check the comment by anon 8:01 am for misinformation/disinformation. Thank you.

elbows said...

I'll have a little go. Those comments are a bit strange in some places, reassurances pushed too far.

Tsunami water in the common spent pool wouldn't be an instant disaster but its not something you would want to happen or that would help. The main issue would be whether the water damaged any equipment, for example equipment that is used for cooling. Anyway we have already seen what happens when a tsunami hits this plant, and the common spent fuel pool is fairly low down the list of things to worry about, it survived a lengthy blackout before, mostly because the old fuel in this pool takes quite a long time to heat the water up to dangerous levels.

Fuel is usually left in pool for a long time as the heat decreases over time. As it relates to unit 4 pool, the fuel bundles that were most recently used in the reactor are going to be hotter than the rest, and as time goes on this becomes less of an issue. So waiting a while has some advantage in this regard, but there are other reasons why this work is taking quite a long time.

Its true that it was always going to take a while to build the facilities necessary to move the fuel in that pool. Im sure it would be possible to do this work more quickly than they plan, but they couldn't do it so quickly as to satisfy every concerned person on the internet. Personally I want to see them make steady progress and deal with it as soon as is possible, but we have seen what the pace of work on the site is like now, and I don't expect that to radically change (unless its a change for the worst if something goes wrong). I think it is likely that they will have left themselves plenty of time in their official timetable, so that they are less likely to look bad by missing their target dates. So its always possible some stages might start a bit earlier than currently planned. But it still won't be quick. I'd rather they took a little longer and reduced risk of making mistakes, definitely don't want to drop the fuel when its being removed.

Regarding cover over reactor 4 building. Its survived more than a year without one, but it is better to have one. Pool can obviously deal with rain water, there are existing standard systems for dealing with pool getting too full (similar to overflow in a bath or sink). You'd really want to put a cover over it when doing fuel removal work in order to protect all of the new equipment from the elements, enable work to continue even if its raining that day, etc.

Anonymous said...

Laprimavera, correction:

My prior comment at 8:52 AM should have read: If you've got a moment, could you check the comment by Aigars Mahinovs at 8:01 am for misinformation/disinformation. Thank you.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@anon at 9:29AM, which part of his information are you alleging misinformation/disinformation?

Anonymous said...


This is what I was referring to...Aigars Mahinovs wrote: "Fuel rods that are not damaged do not leak radiation, so even if a pool could be 'submerged by shallow ocean water' that would not cause any radiation leakage, just more efficient cooling"..."Also cover on 4 is not essential, it is only needed if the continued influx of rainwater could overflow the storage pool".

Aren't both of those statements fallacious?

Anonymous said...

@anon at 11:30AM, if you accuse a poster who is not posting as anon of misinformation or disinformation, I think you are obligated to show exactly what's wrong or false. You can't just accuse they are lies.

Anonymous said...


Unit #4 is now getting a cover and a crane, as was projected last year in an item from the Ex-Skf archive (June 4, 2011.) Arnie Gundersen Interviewed by Chris Martenson. Part I: "The Dangers of Fukushima Are Worse and Longer-lived Than We Think":

ARNIE GUNDERSEN: So we are going to see the dance we’re in for another year or so, until the cores cool down. I used to do this as a living and Unit 4 has me stumped. I think they will be forced to build a building around the building and then, because you need heavy lifting cranes – cranes that lift a hundred and fifty tons, which are massive cranes, to put the put the nuclear fuel into canisters, which then can get removed. That is sort of what happened at TMI, but all of the fuel at TMI was still at the bottom of the vessel. But it was a three-year process to get the molten fuel out of Three Mile Island – four years actually. So the problem here is that all of the cranes that do that have been destroyed, at least on units 1, 3, and 4. And you can’t do it in the air. It has to be done under water. So my guess is that they will have to build a building around the building to provide enough shielding and water, so that they can then go in and put this fuel into a heavy lift canister.

CHRIS MARTENSON: Okay, all right, I hadn’t considered that. That’s a great insight.

No $hit Chris!


Anonymous said...

@anon at 12:04pm

Fortunately, Laprimavera often corrects comments that are erroneous. So, there's nothing wrong with asking him to assess the accuracy of the comment upthread which stated: "Fuel rods that are not damaged do not leak radiation, so even if a pool could be 'submerged by shallow ocean water' that would not cause any radiation leakage, just more efficient cooling. Also cover on 4 is not essential, it is only needed if the continued influx of rainwater could overflow the storage pool".

Anonymous said...

A "tent" to cover Reactor 4 -- like they did with Reactor 1? Unless they also put in the INFRASTRUCTURE to start moving fuel OUT of the does seem a bit like putting a "hat" on. From looking at Reactor 1 which is the "prototype'? for Reactor 4 -- the top panels flap and release the gases TEPCO says they can capture at 99% with filters (dont worry!), the emissions still spill out, and inside the "tent" is seen flashes of light, and more. Its just a coverup...from what is seen..since the radiation at Reactor 1 is still too high to allow investigation. Now I would LOVE for someone to tell me this is not true..but from just looking at this from the outside, the reactor is slowing continuing with a radioactive fuel removed..etc etc. Its will be the "year" called out by the once commentee..and still no fuel seems to have been removed from Reactor 1..or any reactor to date. Unless the canisters/objects being dumped into the water/ocean from the cranes over Reactor 3-were fuel cells. Isnt there a law against dumping radiation into the oceans..on purpose or not? Hope this is not what is seen with reactors ..and our observations were something ELSE going into canisters..and being dumped into the water..

Anonymous said...

@ Aigars,
Submerged in shallow ocean water might provide cooling, but wouldn't the corrosive nature of the salt water pose a threat to the undamaged, non-leaking fuel rods ?

Steve From Virginia said...

Hmmm ...

Cover is cheap theatric.

- Tepco has four 500 ton cranes on the site right now. What's wrong with them? It does not need to invent new cranes @ $millions each along with more million$ installation in 'fake' reactor building.

It looks like a kickback-payoff deal between Tepco and favored contractors. There is nobody who can critically analyze what Tepco is proposing so it can act with impunity. This is why there should be science and engineering expertise outside of Tepco in charge of the project.

- Tepco does not have means to transport hot fuel assemblies (energized-emitting neutrons) from the reactor buildings. Not a surprise, no reactor operator moves hot fuel outside of reactor structures. (US Navy moves hot reactor cores when it refits its nuclear ships.) Tepco does not want to take a risk of a hot assembly being exposed to the air. (It would immediately explode into high-radiation flames.)

If this is the concern, the 'cover' structure would be a way to contain rads in the event of a mishap. It also would not work as hard radiation from fuel fire would not be shielded at all (3 meters of concrete needed).

There is nothing to the structure that provides a repository for hot fuel which must be transported away from the site, not left 'laying around'.

- The fuel in the common pool as well as most in the reactor spent fuel pools is relatively cool (decay heat is reduced). The coolest fuel should be put into dry casks. Why not Tepco? Is it because cask manufacturer doesn't give kickbacks to Tepco executives?

- Cool fuel, common fuel and fuel assemblies in reactors 5 and 6 should have been put into dry casks and removed already. Why not, Tepco?

??? Tepco wants to restart 5 and 6 that's why.

What Tepco does not have is means to transport hot fuel from reactor pools to other nuclear sites or Rokkasho. For that is needed is rail spur to Fukushima and heavy railcars that hold water and fuel assembly cannisters that are used now to move fuel into spent fuel pools.

These cannisters are not now used to move hot fuel but if these do not work more robust cans could be made out of cast iron lined with boron carbide and filled with boron compounds. The fuel assemblies are not going to be used again ... are they? Tepco?

A shipyard can make the required hardware and would have been finished months ago if Tepco had been thinking about something other than executive pay.

Lucky Tepco, I would demand executives' heads on plates.

elbows said...

@Steve From Virginia.

I really don't want Tepco to try to move fuel using existing site cranes that are not designed specifically for that purpose.

And Tepco plans are scrutinised by non-TEPCO experts. This is not perfect since it seems that one problem with nuclear is that many experts are paid by the companies, and there is obviously a pressure not to be negative about nuclear in public. But this is not the same as TEPCO being able to do whatever it likes without any proper scrutiny at all. They do not have impunity.

Regardless of what TEPCO would like in an ideal world for them, reactors 5 & 6 are not going to restart. Japanese authorities have enough PR problems trying to restart reactors at other sites, trying to restart Fukushima reactors 5 & 6 is not happening.

Anonymous said...

Après Fukushima les morts se multiplient
Leucémies, pneumonies, saignements de nez, des diarrhées, de la toux, des thyroïdes enflées.
Même la famille impériale est touchée.

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