Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

The steel frame of an enclosure for unit 4 was completed at Fukushima Daiichi this week. Meanwhile, the government has suggested that Tokyo Electric Power Co. freeze soil around the plant to help prevent groundwater intrusion.

Recent developments related to the nuclear plant blacked out following Japan's 2011 earthquake and tsunami include:

Fukushima unit 4 cover. Source: TEPCOEnclosure Takes Shape at Unit 4

On Wednesday, TEPCO finished the steel frame for a structure to shelter unit 4 and eventually facilitate the removal of its fuel. Pictured at left, the shelter was erected to one side of the reactor building and extended over the top floor of the unit – left exposed following a hydrogen explosion early in the crisis. According to a TEPCO release, an internal crane will be installed next, with work beginning in early June.

Proposal Would Freeze Soil Near Plant

To help stem the 400 metric tons of groundwater flowing into Fukushima Daiichi buildings daily, a panel has ordered TEPCO to study a system that would freeze a cross-section of soil around the plant. On Thursday, government experts said a system of coolant-filled pipes buried and chilled to -40 C could wall off the plant from moving groundwater, Japan Today reported. TEPCO executives said the company would study the largely unprecedented plan but warned it would take years to implement.

Four Utilities Will Be First to Apply for Reactor Restarts

Sources told the Asahi Shimbun this week that Hokkaido Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. intend to apply for regulatory inspections at idled reactors as soon as new safety standards are complete July 18. The companies will seek to operate eight pressurized water reactors that will likely not have to install filtered vents before they restart. Nonetheless, the Nuclear Regulation Authority warned that the screening of each reactor will take at least six months, and their operation would still require consent from local governments.

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