On Saturday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) took members of the press inside the building that held the Fukushima No. 4 nuclear reactor, over a year after it was damaged by an explosion resulting from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Goshi Hosono, the minister of nuclear disaster management, led the four members of the press. It was the first time a member of the Cabinet had visited the damaged facility since the March 11th disasters.
On March 15th, 2011, the No. 4 reactor building experienced a hydrogen explosion, which damaged the ceiling as well as the fifth floor walls. The explosion also stopped the cooling system from functioning on the pool of used nuclear fuel. When the media group was shown the building, almost half of the damaged walls had been removed in addition to the iron framing of the fifth floor. This is part of the preparation work for removing the spent fuel rods, which isn’t scheduled to take place until the end of next year.
Hosono also looked at the reinforcement work done after the crisis in order to support the bottom of the storage pool. The minister commented that progress was being made on the safe removal of the spent nuclear rods. But he warned that they didn’t want to get too optimistic about the situation, as mistakes had been made in the past, and safety needed to remain the number one priority.