Fukushima Daiichi NPS Prompt Report (Nov 13,2013)Immediate release:U.S. Expert on Nuclear Cleanups Endorses Fukushima Fuel Removal
Former U.S. Energy official who oversaw Three Mile Island cleanup hails Japan milestone
FUKUSHIMA, Japan, Nov.13, 2013-The U.S. expert who led the cleanup at Three Mile Island for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave his endorsement today to the initiation of fuel removal from Unit 4 of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station after touring the facility and meeting with its staff, a major milestone towards decontamination of the site.
Lake H. Barrett, a former U.S. Department of Energy official who is acting as an advisor to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant's operator, told a press conference that he found preparations for the fuel removal to be thorough and has "confidence" the effort will succeed safely.
Although his trip to Fukushima had been planned some time in advance, Barrett's favorable inspection results came just a day after Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority gave TEPCO its go-ahead for the removal and transfer of the fuel to safer longer-term storage, building momentum for the effort, which is expected to begin later this month.
"While removal of the fuel is usually a routine procedure in operating a power plant, the damage to the reactor building has made the job more complex," Barrett said. "TEPCO and its partners have made extensive preparations and are employing specialized technology designed to meet the particular needs of extracting the fuel from the damaged building and safely moving it to more secure storage. I am genuinely impressed by the thoroughness of the effort and TEPCO's contingency planning."
TEPCO President Naomi Hirose thanked Barrett for the assistance he has been providing, and for his vote of confidence: "I want to thank Lake Barrett for the assistance and candid advice he has been providing, and for giving us the benefit of his many years of experience not only from Three Mile Island but from a long career in nuclear energy."
Hirose also praised TEPCO's workers for reaching this milestone: "We could not have reached this point without the hard work and dedication of many people, both at the Fukushima site and throughout our organization and our partners. I am confident they will perform this task safely and successfully."
Safer Facility, Safer World
The facility had been badly damaged after the March 2011 tsunami. The fuel needs to be moved because it is sitting in a storage pool that is above ground in a heavily damaged building that TEPCO had to stabilize before beginning the removal. Commenting on the significance of this moment to the overall effort to decontaminate and decommission the site, Barrett said, "Beginning this work shifts the focus from site stabilization to real progress. When the work is done, and the fuel is brought to an undamaged storage facility, the site will be safer for workers, for the community, for Japan, and for the world."
Barrett applauded TEPCO for adopting a significantly improved "safety culture" the he said is doing a better job of "expecting the unexpected." He also praised TEPCO for reaching out to experts from the U.S., United Kingdom and elsewhere for assistance.
For Mr. Barrett's photos visiting the site today, please go to
A video showing how the Unit 4 fuel removal will proceed may be seen at http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2013/201310-e/131030-02e.html
and a detailed discussion with graphics may be found at http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/131030_02e/131030_01-e.pdf(PDF 1.82MB)
TEPCO, Inc. is a provider of electricity to the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo and Yokohama. The company is headquartered in Tokyo. For more information, please go to http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/index-e.html