– Govt., TEPCO draw roadmap to reactor decommission (NHK, July 09, 2011):
A roadmap toward decommissioning of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant indicates that the removal of melted nuclear fuel rods at the plant may begin in 10 years.
NHK has obtained the mid- and long-term roadmap which was presented when officials from the operator of the Fukushima plant, government officials in charge of nuclear safety, and manufacturers of nuclear reactors met last week.
The draft roadmap drawn up by the government’s Nuclear Safety Commission and Tokyo Electric Power Company says they tentatively set a target date to begin removing fuel rods that melted and fell to the bottom of the reactor.
The work is considered to be the most important phase in the decommissioning process. The roadmap indicates that removal will start in 2021 if technology essential for the work has been developed before that.
The timeline is believed to have been set based on measures taken following the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the United States.
But unlike the US case, as reactor containment vessels were damaged at the Fukushima complex, they need to be fixed and filled with water.
The roadmap shows that reactor buildings could be finally demolished and cleared away after the removal of melted fuel rods is completed, and that it will possibly take dozens of years.