Decommissioning of Fukushima nuclear plant to take 30-40 years

The nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan are expected to be decommissioned in 30 to 40 years, according to a recently released roadmap.

The roadmap, drafted by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy; and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, received approval from the government Dec. 21.

The reactors had reached cold shutdown Dec. 16, and TEPCO said it will now shift its focus to stabilizing the plant. The temperatures inside units 1, 2 and 3 fell below the boiling point in September.

The roadmap is split into three phases, with the primary targets focusing on removing fuel from all four used fuel pools within ten years; the removal of melted fuel from the damaged reactor cores inside units 1, 3 and 4; and the demolition of the reactor facilities.  Workers must remove debris from atop units 1, 3 and 4 before decommissioning can continue.

Fuel from the used fuel pool on top of Unit 4 will start being removed within the next two years, while fuel removal at Unit 3 will begin by the end of 2014. The company plans to develop a used fuel removal plan for Unit 1 based on lessons learned from work on units 3 and 4, while for Unit 2, TEPCO will develop a plan once the inside of the reactor building has been decontaminated and the condition of existing used fuel handling equipment has been assessed.

Click here to read the decommissioning plan.

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