The Tokyo Electric Power Company, owners of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power disaster site, said it had reached and lifted some of the spent fuel debris at the bottom of the plant’s Unit 2 primary containment vessel (PVC), a critical step towards eventual removal of the highly hazardous material.
On February 12, the company announced that it would conduct an internal investigation of Unit 2’s PCV with the intension of figuring out whether or not the material could be moved. Tepco said the aim of the project was “to see if deposits observed at the bottom of the Unit 2 pedestal during an investigation last year can be moved by grasping them.”
Earlier investigations, some carried out by telescopic probes, others by robotic ones, found “pebble and clay-like deposits” that covered the entire bottom of the pedestal. “This was determined by lowing a device from the area above the missing grating to examine the bottom of the pedestal.”
On Wednesday, a probe lowered into place equipped with a thermometer, a radiation dosimeter, a camera and a lifting devise that operated like a pair of tongs. The probe accumulated fresh data of the area, took photographs and attempted to lift the clay-like material. In five of six attempts to lift the spent fuel debris, it was successful.
After the probe’s mission, Tepco said it was able to touch the spent fuel debris in Unit 2 for the first time.
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