TEPCO Opens Hatch on Reactor Container at Fukushima Plant; Plans to Start Debris Removal by End of Fiscal 2023

Courtesy of International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning
A hatch on a reactor containment vessel, which has been partially opened

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. announced Friday that it had partially opened a hatch of the reactor containment vessel in the Unit 2 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant. Nuclear fuel debris — nuclear fuel that had melted and solidified — is scheduled to be removed. The company will insert a robotic arm from the hatch into the containment vessel to begin debris removal.

Out of the Units 1 to 3 reactor buildings where meltdown occurred, TEPCO plans to start the first round of debris removed from the Unit 2 building at the end of fiscal 2023. The robotic arm will pass through an equipment transportation passage running through the containment vessel. The expectation is to collect initially a few grams of the debris.

In mid-April, TEPCO started the operation to open the hatch that leads to the transportation passage by remote control. At first, the operation was supposed to be completed in about one month but it took TEPCO until Thursday to finish due to difficulty removing a fixing bolt. TEPCO pulled the handle of the hatch and successfully opened it about 10 centimeters.