Tepco to resume attempt to probe damaged reactor at Fukushima No. 1 plant

Kyodo

The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has said it will resume late this week a survey of the crippled No. 2 reactor using a telescopic arm, hoping to obtain images of melted nuclear fuel.

In Friday’s survey, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. aims to investigate the area beneath the reactor’s pressure vessel, through which nuclear fuel is believed to have melted. The step is needed to help develop a plan for removing the fuel for the ultimate decommissioning of the plant.

Tepco, in announcing the move on Monday, said it will insert a 13-meter long pipe at the bottom of the pressure vessel and then deploy a camera at the tip of the pipe to film the bottom of the outer primary containment vessel, where fuel is believed to have accumulated.

The device will also measure the temperature and radioactivity levels in the area. The survey is expected to take one day.

In January last year, an inserted camera with a limited view captured possible melted fuel in the interior of the No. 2 reactor.

The following month, Tepco attempted a survey using a scorpion-shaped robot inside the unit, but the effort ended in failure due to a technical flaw.

Nearly seven years after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the plant, details of the damage to the reactors remain largely unknown due to high levels of radiation.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the four-reactor plant suffered core meltdowns due to a loss of cooling water in the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.