Fukushima, unit 4, fuel removal, 9/13/13

Unit 4 at Fukushima still has nuclear fuel stored high above the ground in wet storage.   TEPCO plans to remove this fuel to  a safer location.   A recent report outlines some of the problems and specifically talks about the workers:

Human error poses a considerable risk factor for accidents involving fuel transfers. Procedural problems such as inadequate procedures to cover the tasks, inapplicable procedures or ignoring procedures can all create a situation for something to go wrong. Inadequate training or experience is considered a risk factor in the studies we reviewed. TEPCO’s reliance on an expendable and frequently untrained workforce could create a problem in this situation. Workers with extensive experience at the plant and with fuel handling would be best suited to do this work. Unfortunately, many of those workers are reaching their exposure maximums and can no longer work at the plant. Communication issues can cause increased safety risks. Remotely done work, working in full radiation suits and relying on headsets for communication have all been cited as potential problems. Remote work is never 100% clear.

The article identifies other problems.   The fuel rods have had mechanical injury from flying debris and chemical injury from the corrosive effects of the salt water that has been used to keep the reactor cool.    Fuel removal under these circumstances has never been tried before.   If any mistakes are made, there is the potential that the fuel rods can become “critical” and release radiation.

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One thought on “Fukushima, unit 4, fuel removal, 9/13/13

  1. Pingback: Risks at Fukushima, past and future, 10/01/13 | Vernon Radiation Safety

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