Members of the media and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees wearing protective suits and masks walk toward the No. 1 reactor building at the tsunami-crippled TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture March 10, 2014. (Reuters/Toru Hanai)
The protective dome over the defunct Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s Reactor 1 is being dismantled to prepare for the removal of nuclear fuel rods – one of the most difficult and dangerous tasks in the entire decommissioning process.
The canopy was installed by TEPCO, the plant’s operator, in 2011 to mitigate the damage done to the plant in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which led to one of the worst nuclear disasters in human history.
On October 22 it started to take the construction apart using a crane-mounted drill to make 30sq cm holes in one of the structure’s six panels, The Asahi Shimbun reports.
After the holes were drilled, the workers coated the inside of the building with special anti-scattering resin to ensure that radioactive materials still lingering after reactor meltdown would not be agitated.
The inside of the building contains a significant amount of debris left after a hydrogen explosion following the disasters. The operation will therefore require the installation of cameras inside to survey the area.
The dangerous next step in the decommissioning process comes in 2016-2017, when the workers will proceed to remove the rubble and garbage, followed by an extremely delicate process for the removal of spent nuclear fuel rods from cooling pools.
Watch our brief explanation below of what this entails.
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