UPDATE1: 2nd unused nuclear fuel assembly taken from Fukushima plant.
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. took out an unused nuclear fuel assembly from a spent fuel pool Spent fuel pool (SFP) are storage pools for spent fuel from nuclear reactors. Typically 40 or more feet deep, with the bottom 14 feet equipped with storage racks designed to hold fuel assemblies removed from the reactor. at the No. 4 reactor of its Fukushima Daiichi power plant Thursday, after removing another fuel assembly Wednesday, sources close to the matter said.
The operation came as the utility examines the extent of damage to the stored fuel before starting the full removal of fuel assemblies at the plant in December 2013.
It marks a key step in the process toward decommissioning Decommissioning is a general term for a formal process to remove something from operational status. Some specific instances include:
As was the case with the first nuclear fuel assembly taken out Wednesday, TEPCO TEPCO Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Japan) used a crane to remove the second one from the pool on the fifth floor of the reactor building, cleaned it with pure water and put it into a special container, the sources said.
The fuel assemblies in the special containers will be transferred to a so-called shared pool in a different building at the plant. Each assembly is about 4 meters long, weighing some 300 kilograms.
The utility has refused to disclose any information on the operation, citing nuclear security concerns.
The sources said the utility did not find any major abnormality with regard to the radiation level and to the external appearance of the initially removed fuel.
The removal of the two unused fuel assemblies leaves 1,533 used and unused ones still in the pool of the No. 4 reactor.
When the fatal quake and tsunami hit the plant on March 11 last year, the No. 4 reactor was offline for maintenance work and its fuel was stored in the spent fuel pool. The Nos. 1 to 3 reactors suffered meltdowns in the accident.