The successful removal of a beam dropped into a spent fuel pool, the first Tokyo Electric Power Co. settlement related to the death of an evacuee and a higher seawall at the Hamaoka nuclear plant highlighted the last week's news from Japan.

Developments related to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant severely damaged following last year's earthquake and tsunami include:

Fukushima unit 3 spent fuel pool. Source: TEPCOBeam Removed from Unit 3 SFP

While clearing debris from around the unit 3 spent fuel pool on Sept. 22, a piece of remotely operated equipment dropped a steel beam into the water. TEPCO workers retrieved it Thursday, according to a release, after practice runs using a mockup of the beam and the SFP. Before the beam was lifted from the pool and set on the ground next to the reactor building, crews also lowered a system of rods and chains into the SFP to protect its liner during the procedure. A water purification system was also installed that TEPCO said doubled visibility in the pool to 5 meters. No damage to the liner or changes in plant conditions were detected after the beam was removed.

TEPCO Settles Evacuee Death Suit

TEPCO has agreed to compensate the family of a hospitalized woman who died after evacuating a city in Fukushima Prefecture. It is the first settlement of its kind, Jiji Press reported, and TEPCO agreed to pay about $174,000 and acknowledged that the evacuation was a factor in her death. The evacuation itself, rather than bodily damage from radiation, was at issue.

Hamaoka Plant Will Raise Tsunami Barriers

Chubu Electric Power Co. announced Thursday that it will build a new tsunami barrier 4 meters higher than originally planned at its Hamaoka nuclear plant. When completed, it will stand at 22 meters tall, Kyodo reported. Government estimates have concluded that 19-meter-high tsunami is possible at the plant in the event of a large earthquake in the Tokai region.

Photo: Unit 3 spent fuel pool from above, with a portion of the liner protection system visible at its edges. Source: TEPCO.