Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The First Cask from Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Was Safely Lowered, Transported to the Common Pool

NHK, who apparently had a live footage of the scene at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant according to people who were watching TV, says it took the truck carrying the cask 10 minutes to go from the Reactor 4 building to the Common Pool which is 100 meters away.

From NHK (11/21/2013; part):


At 1PM on November 21, 2013, the first container to transport 22 nuclear fuels taken from the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was removed from the reactor building, and transported to the storage facility 100 meters away inside the plant compound.


On November 21, the container, called "cask", that has 22 unused, new fuel assemblies was taken out of the Reactor 4 building on a trailer [trailer truck, or rig], and transferred to the facility called the Common Pool in 10 minutes.


The trailer was led by a white car, and proceeded at a slow, walking speed while workers looked on. It backed into the Common Pool.


This was the first time the container with fuel assemblies was transported out of the Reactor 4 building since the start of the fuel removal work on November 18. According to TEPCO, the Common Pool was evaluated to be able to withstand the earthquake of the same level as the March 11, 2011 earthquake, and fuel assemblies would be more securely stored there than in the Spent Fuel Pool located in the building damaged by the accident.

No video or photos yet at TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Video Summary of Fuel Transfer in Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool at #Fukushima I NPP on 11/18/2013

In this, I don't blame TEPCO for not having posted a video of the entire work (9 to 10 hours) on November 18, 2013.

The preparation for submerging the cask started in the morning, with the cask submerged completely at 12:30PM. The removal of unused (new) fuel assemblies into the cask started at 3:18PM, and by 6:45PM 4 unused fuel assemblies were transferred into the cask.

The names of the companies and the names of the workers are blurred in the video. They could be TEPCO workers, but most likely from one of the primary contractors.

From TEPCO's photos and videos library (11/19/2013):

Compared to the still photos (see below), the water in the pool looks slightly murky. After the day's work ended at 7PM on November 18, another set of workers were scheduled to be there all night, clearing small debris and particles using a vacuum cleaner in the water.

(From TEPCO, 11/18/2013; click to enlarge. For higher resolution photos, go to the link.)

Today (November 19, 2013), the workers have removed 8 unused fuel assemblies into the cask as of 1:30PM, according to Nuclear Regulation Agency (secretariat of Nuclear Regulation Authority). The Agency thinks the workers will be able to remove additional 10 fuel assemblies to fill the cask.

There are six group of workers who take turns in removing the fuel assemblies so that each group of workers spends less than 2 hours on the operating floor.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

(UPDATED) Fuel Assemblies Are Being Transferred into the Cask in Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool at #Fukushima I NPP

(UPDATE-2) Jiji reports (11/19/2013) that the workers successfully removed 4 unused new fuel assemblies into the cask by 6:45PM. The air dose level near the pool was 0.04 millisievert/hour (or 40 microsieverts/hour).


(UPDATE) TEPCO says the workers started lifting the very first fuel assembly at 3:25PM JST.


NHK's latest (11/18/2013 at 3:55PM; part):


At 3:18PM, TEPCO started to remove the nuclear fuels from the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.


On November 18, part of the unused, new fuels will be transferred to the cask, a container for transporting the fuels, in the Spent Fuel Pool.


The work uses the fuel handling machine, and will continue until about 7PM.

Cask Is Now In the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

(UPDATE) According to TEPCO, it took 30 minutes from the moment the bottom of the cask touched the water in the cask pit till the cask bottom is securely at the bottom of the cask pit in the SFP.


TEPCO released the high-resolution (for TEPCO, at least) photographs of the cask being submerged in the cask pit of the Spent Fuel Pool in Reactor 4 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

According to the schedule, they should soon start removing the first fuel assembly from the pool into the cask.

From TEPCO, 11/18/2013:

(Click to enlarge. For high-resolution photos, follow the TEPCO link.)

(UPDATED) #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Fuel Assembly Removal from Reactor 4 SFP Starts


The cask has been submerged in the cask pit inside the SFP, and the workers have started to transfer fuel assemblies into the cask (from 3:18PM Japan Standard Time)


(UPDATE 2) From Nikkei Shinbun (11/18/2013, 11:16AM):

Removal of the fuel assemblies will continue tomorrow (November 19), the cask will be lowered to the ground on November 19. It will take about a week for the first cask to be transported to the Common Pool 100 meters away.

A week?

(UPDATE) Wrong schedule. From NHK News at 12:05PM:

  1. AM: The cask is being submerged into the cask pit.

  2. At 3PM: Start removing the 22 fuel assemblies (unused, new assemblies) using the fuel handling machine into the cask


According to NHK News (11/18/2013 at 6:07AM), the schedule is:
  1. AM: Using the fuel handling machine, put fuel assemblies (unused, new, 22 of them) into the cask submerged in the cask pit

  2. At 3PM: Lower the cask using the gantry crane

It must be proceeding well so far, as the bright pink headline banner on NHK's homepage (circled in blue below) only says "We will let you know as soon as there is further news."

The fuel handling machine is operated by the workers with long experience of handling the nuclear fuel, according to the workers who regularly tweet from Fukushima I NPP.

Here's the link to the 7-page summary of the fuel removal operation, from TEPCO (11/13/2013).

Just as the independent journalist Ryuichi Kino said previously, "Fuel removal conducted in the daytime, and debris removal at night".

Perhaps as a small pushback against the LDP politicians who demand "acceleration" and "ahead of schedule" work, TEPCO says on the 2nd page in red letters:

After conducting the above actions, we will proceed with fuel removal with “first priority given to safety”, not to achievement of the schedule.

Mainichi Shinbun (11/13/2013) says the reactor building cover over the Reactor 4 operating floor was built with 4,200 tons of steel beams, the same amount of steel beams that were used to build Tokyo Tower. If I remember right, the design and construction was by Kajima. It was designed and built so that the weight of the heavy cover would not be borne by the original reactor building.