In light of the impending fuel rod removal from the 3 molten down reactor cores at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power facility, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) can probably consider the fuel removal from the No. 4 reactor core – the only one that didn’t suffer a meltdown when the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami hit – as a good opportunity to practice. Still, TEPCO will delay the actual fuel removal by two weeks and conduct a test first before the actual fuel removal operation, sources said Monday.
The decision comes after Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, a government-affiliated nuclear safety agency, called for an initial test operation, including transporting a protective fuel cask from the storage pool to another pool in a different building about 100 meters away, the sources said. The agency also urged TEPCO to have the test evaluated by a group of Japanese and overseas experts recommended by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning, a Tokyo-based organization founded by Japanese government agencies, nuclear facility manufacturers and electric power companies.
The more dangerous affair will be extracting the radioactive fuel rods from the three molten down cores, where a small mistake might become the spark that starts a whole new nuclear disaster on its own. A small cause of relief for the Japanese public is that the United States Department of Energy has signed on to help with the risky process. TEPCO’s reputation has not been that good as of late, as a string of high-profile incidents with power outages and radioactive waste water leaks have all but convinced the Japanese public that TEPCO cannot be trusted with this dangerous process by itself.