TEPCO - November 2013


TEPCO - November 2013

Tokyo Electric Power Company, Incorporated (東京電力株式会社, Tōkyō Denryoku Kabushiki-gaisha, TYO: 9501), also known as Toden (東電, Tōden) or TEPCO, is a Japanese electric utilities servicing Japan's Kantō region, Yamanashi Prefecture, and the eastern portion of Shizuoka Prefecture.
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

. TEPCO - Problems since June 2013 .

With the Tokyo Olympics, Tokyo 2020
now even more in the limelight !

Please read the daily news at NHK here
Since November 2013, NHK has a new feature, "Nuclear Watch" !
source : www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english

. Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 and Fukushima
東京オリンピック 2020 .

updates on this BLOG


- November 01, 2013 -

US ready to help decommission reactors in Fukushima
- NHK nuclear watch
The visiting US Energy Secretary says the United States is ready to help Japan decommission reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, if needed.
Ernest Moniz related this in his speech in Tokyo on Thursday. He said the success of the cleanup of areas around the Fukushima plant and decommissioning of reactors have global significance. Moniz said the US has a direct interest in seeing the next steps are done efficiently and safely.
He noted that from the beginning of the Fukushima accident, the US government has supported the Japanese government by sending experts to cope with the accident. . . . The Energy Secretary also asked Japan to join an international pact on compensation for nuclear accidents as soon as possible. Moniz said that if Japan ratifies the treaty, the US will be able to help the country more easily in the work.
Groundwater flows from nearby mountains into the plant compound, absorbs radioactive substances there and then leaks into the ocean. TEPCO is still unable either to identify exactly where radioactive water is leaking or to keep track of the movement of groundwater.
Moniz reportedly said Energy Department researchers are currently working on technologies to contain contaminated water and they can be of help.
A radiation leak at the Hartford nuclear site in the state of Washington earlier this year prompted the US Energy Department to set up a research institute to develop technologies to handle such accidents.
Moniz and Hirose agreed to strengthen technical cooperation in 5 fields. These include disposal of radioactive water, preventing the contamination of underground water and the removal of melted nuclear fuel.
The US Energy Secretary says his government and US companies could help Japan in removing hard-to-filter radioactive tritium from waste water at the country's crippled nuclear plant.

Aso to study state funding for Fukushima cleanup - NHK
Japan's finance minister says he will study a proposal by the Liberal Democratic Party that the government finance the effort to clean up after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Taro Aso told reporters on Friday that he respects and will carefully study related recommendations by an LDP taskforce.
The recommendations were made on Thursday by the taskforce on speeding up the effort to rebuild regions hit by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that triggered the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, pays for the government's effort to clean up areas contaminated by nuclear fallout.

Govt. to turn TEPCO into a holding company - NHK
Japan's industry ministry started procedures to turn the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into a holding company. It also plans to create a body specializing in decommissioning reactors at the plant under the new firm's wing.
The ministry began the move on Thursday after a taskforce of the main ruling Liberal Democratic Party approved proposals designed to swiftly address radioactive water and scrap reactors at the plant.


- November 02, 2013 -

Ishiba calls for restart of nuclear power plants
The secretary general of Japan's governing Liberal Democratic Party says the country's idle nuclear reactors should be restarted once their safety is verified.
Shigeru Ishiba delivered a speech in Sapporo on Saturday on the government's energy policy.
Ishiba said Japan should reduce nuclear dependence by working on renewable sources such as wind and solar.
But he said the current supply is on a tightrope. He advocated putting back online those reactors that pass screenings.
All the reactors are currently offline for safety checks.
Ishiba noted that new reactors are being built in many countries including China, most with Japan's technology.
The LDP secretary general stressed Japan should further advance its nuclear technology and promote its export.


- November 04, 2013 -

Govt. to be more involved in Fukushima cleanup - NHK
The Japanese government plans to increase its involvement in recovery efforts from the Fukushima nuclear accident. Efforts include financing work to remove radioactive material from soil and decommission reactors at the Fukushima plant.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a speech in Tokyo on Monday that it's high time to review the policy for recovery efforts.
Suga said the previous government, led by the Democratic Party, chose to have Tokyo Electric Power Company respond to the accident on its own, even though the government could have taken charge of some of the work.
Suga said the government will coordinate its policy with proposals from the main governing Liberal Democratic Party.


- November 05, 2013 -

Japan to study nuclear accident risk system in US - NHK
Japanese and US officials have agreed to explore ways to introduce a system in Japan for assessing the risk of accidents at nuclear power plants. Such a system is already in place in the United States.
... The US assessment method quantifies factors such as natural disasters, unexpected equipment malfunctions and human error to determine which areas of a nuclear power plant are at high risk.

IAEA dispatches marine analysts to Fukushima
The International Atomic Energy Agency is sending marine monitoring experts to Japan. They will advise on handling radioactive wastewater leaking into the sea from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi power plant. . . . IAEA chief Yukiya Amano says Japan needs to cooperate with international organizations on the Fukushima plant problems.

Ishiba hints at review of decontamination goal - NHK
An executive of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has hinted at a review of the long-term goals in the decontamination of areas around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
... The report calls for the government to better inform local residents that its goal of reducing yearly radiation levels to one millisievert or below cannot be achieved quickly through decontamination work alone.


- November 06, 2013 -

TEPCO preparing new report on Fukushima - NHK
The head of Tokyo Electric Power Company says the utility is preparing a new report on what caused the crisis at its Fukushima plant.
The step is seen as part of the company's efforts to gain understanding for restarting 2 reactors in Niigata Prefecture, central Japan.
TEPCO President Naomi Hirose told a Lower House panel on Wednesday that the company plans to shortly release its findings on Fukushima.
Hirose said TEPCO has continued to examine the cause of the March 2011 disaster through an expert panel. Members include US and British nuclear power experts.
The new report follows one released in June 2012 on the results of the company's own investigations. But the first report left many questions unanswered.
Hirose said TEPCO will also present the report to Niigata Prefecture for review.
A prefectural technical panel is examining safety features of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, where the utility hopes to restart 2 reactors.
TEPCO apparently decided a further probe into Fukushima was needed to gain the prefecture's approval.

No.4 reactor pool shown to media - NHK
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant has shown the media the pool for nuclear fuel units at the No.4 reactor. Work to remove the units will begin this month. ... Workers will use a crane to transfer the units to a container designed to block radiation. It will be filled with 22 units before being lowered to the ground and transported to a storage facility.

Fukushima decommission at starting line - NHK
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant is preparing to take a key step towards decommissioning the nuclear reactors. It will start in mid-November to remove more than 1,500 fuel rods from one cooling pool.
The operation is the start of a long process expected to take 30 to 40 years.
Tokyo Electric Power Company personnel will begin at reactor no. 4. Its pool stores 1533 fuel units, most of which are highly radioactive spent rods.
TEPCO will also need to clear rods from pools at 3 other reactors in a worse state. Reactor no. 1's pool has 392 units, no. 2 has 615, and No. 3 has 566.
TEPCO officials hope to begin removing rods from those pools in about 2 years. They have been hampered by intense radiation and problems like inflow of rainwater.
They're anticipating a bigger challenge in removing molten fuel from reactor containers. TEPCO hopes to start that stage in 2020.
Workers are prevented by high radioactivity from fully studying the reactor interiors. They are attempting to use remote-control cameras.
TEPCO officials are seeking international cooperation to develop a machine that can remove the molten fuel, an operation never tried before.
The company is also facing other challenges including radioactive-water leakage into the sea and a lack of sufficient skilled workers.


- November 09, 2013 -

Tainted water leaks again at Fukushima Daiichi - NHK

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have discovered a new leak of contaminated water, this time through a barrier that surrounds wastewater storage tanks.
The workers were inspecting tanks on Saturday when they found tainted water had leaked out of the barrier near the No.4 reactor. They tried to contain it with sandbags.
They reported finding puddles of water 80 centimeters long and 100 centimeters wide beyond the barrier. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company detected 140 becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium.
The utility says the leak occurred near the valve used to drain water inside the barrier. But it says the valve was closed, so it was unlikely to be the cause.
TEPCO officials say no contaminated water reached the ocean.
Engineers at the plant are still investigating. They say faulty joints in the body of the barrier may be to blame. The barrier is made up of concrete blocks bound by metal boards that are fitted either by welding or with bolts.


- November 11, 2013 -

Ruling parties propose ideas for nuclear cleanup
Japan's ruling coalition parties have made a proposal for the clean-up and decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Party officials say the proposal would help accelerate recovery from the 2011 accident.
Senior officials of the Liberal Democratic and the New Komeito parties turned in the proposal to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday.
The plan identifies decontamination at the plant as the government's highest priority and imminent task. It asks the government to undertake the task as a public works project after current decontamination plans are carried out.
It also calls for legislative measures to allow the government to take the initiative in decommissioning and dealing with the radioactive water issue. Such measures would be needed to secure funds for such work.
On handing in the proposal, former LDP Vice President Tadamori Oshima urged Abe to lead recovery efforts to help communities and people affected by the nuclear accident. He asked Abe to work out details in line with the proposal.
Abe said the government will lead efforts in decommissioning and dealing with the contaminated water.

Govt., TEPCO target Fukushima water leaks - NHK
Officials from the Japanese government and the operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have agreed on measures to protect the plant from heavy rainfall. They are hoping to limit leaks of radioactive water.
Senior Vice Industry Minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said an unusually large number of typhoons and storms over the past month caused radioactive rainwater leaks. Part of the water may have seeped outside of the facility and possibly into the sea. ... A team of 22 people, including members of a government committee to manage contaminated water, conducted geological inspections at the Fukushima plant on Monday.

Experts call for change in radiation measuring - NHK
A panel of experts is urging the Japanese government to change the way it measures radiation exposure for evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear accident when they return home.
The panel at the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Monday endorsed draft proposals covering state support for people who want to return to their homes near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The proposals call on authorities to allow evacuees to return only after yearly radiation levels in their communities have fallen to below 20 millisieverts.
The proposals also say it should be a long-term aim to bring annual exposure levels for people to one millisievert or less.
To date, officials have estimated exposure based on radiation levels in the environment. But the panel says they should measure exposure by equipping individuals with radiation monitors called dosimeters.
Radiation measurements made by dosimeters tend to be one-third to one-seventh of readings estimated through environmental monitoring.
The draft proposals include making maps that show areas with high radiation levels and using dosimeter measurements to enable more effective decontamination work.
The panel also calls for assigning local government officials and health nurses as advisors in each community.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority will officially compile the proposals and submit them to the government.


- November 12, 2013 -

NRA finishes checks before fuel removal - NHK
Japan's nuclear watchdog has finished facility checks before the removal of nuclear fuel from a badly damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
Removing the fuel units is the first milestone in a decommissioning project that's estimated to take about 40 years. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, plans to decommission 4 damaged reactors.
The firm is preparing to remove 1,533 fuel units from a storage pool in the plant's No.4 reactor, which stores the most fuel units among the 4.
On Tuesday, officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority told the utility that they found no problems with a crane, the building's cover, and various facilities. The regulators had been checking since September.
The NRA plans to start checking work procedures on Wednesday to make sure that debris in the pool will not damage fuel units, most of which are highly radioactive spent rods.
If the agency finds no problem with the procedures, Tokyo Electric is to start removing the fuel in mid-November.


- November 13, 2013 -

Robot pinpoints leaks on Fukushima reactor - NHK
A robot at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has for the first time identified exactly where highly radioactive water is leaking from a reactor.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, on Wednesday succeeded in sending a remote-controlled robot close to the lower part of the No.1 reactor's containment vessel.
The lower section is filled with contaminated water injected to cool molten nuclear fuel. Extremely high radiation levels have hampered efforts to probe that section.
A camera on the robot captured images of water leaking from 2 holes in the containment vessel into the building housing the reactor.
TEPCO engineers say they're not sure how much water is leaking. But they say one of the leaks looks as if tap water is gushing out.
Radiation levels in the area were extremely high at 0.9 to 1.8 sieverts an hour.
Engineers suspect that damage to containment vessels at the No. 2 and 3 reactors is also causing similar leaks of highly radioactive water.
They say Wednesday's finding is important not only in solving water contamination problems but also in carrying out decommissioning. TEPCO will continue to use robots to look for other leaks.

Niigata Governor calls for more explanation
Governor Hirohiko Izumida noted that the NRA decided to proceed, even though radioactive water continues to leak at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. . . .

Agency: Japanese marine products are safe
A senior Japanese fisheries official has told foreign reporters Japanese sea products are safe. The Fisheries Agency is trying to dispel concerns about radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Masanori Miyahara said some radioactive substances were detected in seawater within the Daiichi port in tests from March 2011 - September this year. But he said the level outside the port is mostly below detectable limits. . . .


- November 14, 2013 -

TEPCO yet to pinpoint reactor vessel damage - NHK
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has yet to determine from what parts of the No.1 reactor containment vessel water is leaking.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, on Wednesday sent a camera-equipped remote-controlled robot close to the lower part of the No.1 reactor containment vessel. The camera captured 2 locations where water was leaking onto the floor of the building housing the reactor.
In one location, water was trickling down the surface of the suppression chamber and pooling on the floor. The doughnut-shape suppression chamber is a part of the containment vessel.
In another, water was flowing out of the tip of a broken pipe. The pipe had been installed to collect dew condensation.
TEPCO believes the water is coming from damaged parts of the containment vessel.
It is the first time that possible leak sites have been confirmed in the No.1 to No.3 reactor containment vessels.
If the damage is pinpointed, it may be possible to draw up measures to suppress the accumulation of wastewater.
It could also help speed up the process of decommissioning the reactor by allowing the filling of the containment vessel with water to extract melted nuclear fuel.
However, high radiation levels and wastewater in the area are likely to hamper efforts to find the damaged parts and take effective measures.


- November 15, 2013 -

Lawmakers to explore nuclear waste disposal plan - NHK
Japanese lawmakers from both the ruling and opposition parties are set to launch a parliamentarians' group to discuss disposal of highly radioactive waste from nuclear power plants.

The move follows a call for a nuclear power-free society by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi called on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to decide promptly on a zero nuclear policy instead of restarting idled reactors.
Koizumi cited as a reason, difficulties associated with the construction of disposal sites for highly radioactive waste.
The new group will include lawmakers from the ruling Liberal Democratic and New Komeito parties and the opposition Democratic Party.
The members plan to study how other countries manage their radioactive waste and discuss a wide range of issues, including the possibility of new technological developments.
They also plan to look into ways to select the locations of disposal sites.
The lawmakers say they will face the issue head on to encourage public debate.

Fuel rod removal set to start at Fukushima plant
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant plans to take the first step in decommissioning the facility next week, more than 2 and a half years after its triple meltdown.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Friday that workers will start removing nuclear fuel rod units from a storage pool at the plant's Number 4 reactor on Monday.
. . . The reactor pool is still littered with small debris that could hamper smooth removal of the units.
The job will require extreme caution, as any damage to the fuel or casks could unleash high-level radiation.
If trouble occurs, workers' exposure could reach the safety limit, seriously setting back the removal process.


- November 17, 2013 -

Fuel rod unit removal to start at Fukushima plant
The removal of fuel rod units at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan starts on Monday.
This is the first critical step in decommissioning the facility in Fukushima Prefecture.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said that workers will start removing units of nuclear fuel rods from a storage pool at the plant's Number 4 reactor.
The pool holds 1,533 units of which 1,331 are highly radioactive spent fuel rod units and 202 that are unused.
... They plan to transfer the units into a cask under water in the pool, then use a crane to lift out the cask and transfer it to an outside storage pool about 100 meters away.
In the morning an empty cask will be lowered into the pool and the fuel rod units will be placed into it in the afternoon.
The pool is still littered with small debris that could hamper smooth removal of the units. ...


- November 19, 2013 -

Nuclear fuel to be taken out of storage pool - NHK
Workers are to take out nuclear fuel from a storage pool at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Fuel removal is a key step for scrapping the damaged facility.
A crane will lift a container with its maximum capacity of 22 fuel units from the pool at the No.4 reactor building on Wednesday.
Removal of the fuel began on Monday. Workers finished transferring the 22 units of unused fuel into the container on Tuesday. . . .


- November 20, 2013 -

2 more Fukushima reactors to be decommissioned
Tokyo Electric Power Company is planning to decommission the 2 reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that were not damaged in the March 2011 disaster.
TEPCO officials said they will first consult with officials in Fukushima Prefecture and in the towns of Futaba and Okuma. An official decision to decommission the Number 5 and 6 reactors could come next month. . . .


- November 21, 2013 -

TEPCO moves cask from reactor building - NHK
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has moved a container, or cask, of nuclear fuel outside of the number 4 reactor building.
Workers just after 1 PM on Thursday moved the cask on a trailer to a separate storage pool 100 meters away.
The cask contains 22 assemblies of unused nuclear fuel rods. . . . The workers will now proceed to transfer the 22 fuel assemblies from the cask to the pool.

"Cask" containing fuel moved into safer pool
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant says it has removed the first batch of nuclear fuel from the reactor 4 building to a safer storage pool. . . .
TEPCO says the building housing the separate pool can withstand an earthquake as strong as the March 2011 disaster that badly damaged the plant.


- November 22, 2013 -

1st fuel transfer ends at Fukushima Daiichi plant - NHK
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the first batch of nuclear fuel has been transferred from a reactor building to a safer storage pool.
The first 22 fuel assemblies were moved from the storage pool in the No.4 reactor building on Thursday, to a nearby facility housing the safer pool.
Workers unloaded the 22 unused fuel units from a cask container one by one and finished placing each in storage racks inside the pool on Friday evening.
Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to start the second transfer after reviewing whether there were any problems with the first round of work. If not, the utility may start removing spent fuel units that are highly radioactive. . . .TEPCO plans to repeat the process around 70 times to transfer all the fuel units by the end of next year.


- November 25, 2013 -

Spent fuel to be removed from Fukushima reactor - NHK
The operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant says it will begin removing highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel from one of its reactor buildings on Tuesday.
On Friday, Tokyo Electric Power Company completed the removal of a cask containing 22 assemblies of unused fuel rods from the storage pool of the Number 4 reactor building to a nearby separate storage pool. . . .


- November 30, 2013 -

Since all the water tanks are full, Tepco will stop doing anything about the infected water for now.
(meaning, it will flow into the ocean without treatment or anything . . .)


. TEPCO - Problems since June 2013 .

. - - - Tokyo Olympic Games 2020 - and Fukushima - - -
東京オリンピック 2020 .


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  1. $66 billion in reconstruction budget unspent

    Japan's Board of Audit says about a third of more than 200 billion dollars allocated for reconstruction since the March 11th disaster in 2011 remains unspent.

    The board says the rest, about 66 billion dollars including subsides, has been carried over to next year or become unnecessary.
    Money earmarked for about 130 projects has not been spent for two years. A lack of workers and engineers are blamed for delays in 23 cases.

    The need for previously unforeseen additional work is blamed in another 23 cases. A lack of construction materials has caused delays in 20 cases.
    About a third of the unspent money was subsidies paid to public corporations that did reconstruction work.

    As of March, the corporations had spent only about 29 percent of such subsidies.
    In some cases, they overestimated the need for their projects so much that after the projects ended, more than half the subsidies were unspent.

    The board is asking government ministries to provide more help to local governments struggling with delays in reconstruction projects.
    It is also urging them to scrutinize the size of subsides to public corporations to prevent waste.

    NHK world news

  2. Anti-nuclear lawmaker tries to get Emperor’s attention

    Upper House lawmaker Taro Yamamoto, an anti-nuclear activist who was formerly an actor, created a public stir Thursday when he apparently approached Emperor Akihito for political purposes at a garden party hosted by the Imperial Couple in Tokyo.

    Japan Times

  3. LDP questions plan to let Fukushima evacuees go home

    TOKYO —

    A ruling party official has called into question a government plan to let people who fled from the Fukushima nuclear disaster go home, saying the government should identify areas that will never be habitable.

    The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was battered by an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, leading to meltdowns and explosions that sent plumes of radiation into the air and sea.

    About 150,000 people were evacuated. A large area of surrounding land is off-limits because of radiation but the government is hoping to eventually allow everyone to go home.

    But Shigeru Ishiba, secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), said it was inevitable that some people would never go back.

    “The time will definitely come that someone must say ‘they cannot live in this area but they would be compensated,’” Ishiba was quoted as saying in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

    The question of letting people go home is politically sensitive for the government and it would not want to have to tell thousands of residents that cannot go back.

    The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), has been struggling to stop radiation leaks from the wrecked plant.

    Japan Today

  4. Tepco feeling heat over fuel removal
    Doubtful of utility's aptitude, experts urge help for dangerous operation

    With Tepco due to begin removing more than 1,300 spent-fuel rod assemblies and nearly 200 fresh ones from the reactor 4 pool at the Fukushima No. 1 plant this month, global pressure is mounting to allow an international task force to monitor and assist the highly hazardous operation.

    A former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, anti-nuclear groups in Japan and abroad, nuclear engineers, doctors and radiologists are warning of the dangers of the operation Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to carry out and are calling for pressure on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to be more globally transparent.

    “It is urgently needed to set up an international task force to assist Japan by deploying all possible means to reduce the risks of the imminent first unloading of spent fuel from unit 4,” ex-Ambassador to Switzerland Mitsuhei Murata said in a recent letter to U.S. President Barack Obama.


  5. Food makers market drinks using Fukushima produce

    Japan's leading food makers are starting to market beverages and alcoholic drinks using farm products from Fukushima Prefecture.

    The move is to help farmers in the prefecture who grow crops in safe areas but have been affected by concerns over food safety following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in 2011.

    Kagome will start selling tomato juice made from fruit harvested in Fukushima at the end of this month. The company stopped using tomatoes from Fukushima soon after the nuclear accident.

    But it says it has confirmed safety of the crop after checks over 2 years and decided to use the produce again. It introduced equipment to monitor radioactivity levels in food.

    The food maker says it has responded to calls from consumers who want to support rebuilding efforts in Fukushima. The label of the product clearly shows "made in Fukushima."

    Kirin Brewery is also marketing a new alcoholic drink which contains the juice of pears harvested in Fukushima.

    NHK world news

  6. Risky fuel removal about to start

    The decades-long decommissioning process at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant is about to take what Tokyo Electric Power Co. says is “an important step,” as the utility starts removing fuel rod assemblies from the spent fuel pool high up in reactor building 4 sometime this month.

    Moving the massive amount of radioactive fuel assemblies out of the shattered building is significant because it will allow Tepco to monitor the fuel much more easily at another pool in an undamaged facility, experts say.

    Meanwhile, they stress the task must be handled very carefully to avoid dropping and damaging the assemblies.

    “Usually, spent fuel rods are safely stored in sturdy reactor buildings, but reactor building 4 experienced a hydrogen explosion, so it has lost its full containment capability,” said Kiyoshi Takasaka, an adviser on nuclear issues to Fukushima Prefecture.

    - - - Earlier this week,
    Tepco found three damaged assemblies that will be difficult to remove, but officials said the damage appeared to have occurred before the March 11 disasters. - - - !!!