” HIRONO, Fukushima Prefecture–Tokyo Electric Power Co. held an exercise at a mock facility here to prepare for the delicate task of removing debris from a reactor building at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The operation on Dec. 16 used a simulated upper structure of the No. 1 reactor building, which was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
In the trial operation, workers extracted steel pieces using huge remote-controlled cranes equipped with specially designed plier-type hooks, which can firmly hold and cut steel frames and other materials.
A crane operator and a worker controlling the hooks worked together to hold the steel debris, keeping in close communication.
“We want to improve our technique so we can conduct the operation with accuracy,” a TEPCO official said.
The actual operation, scheduled for January 2016, aims to remove the debris from 50 places in the reactor building before installing a sprinkler system to prevent radioactive dust scattering from the reactor’s upper section.
Considering the risk surrounding the removal effort in the reactor building, where radiation levels remain high, workers will closely monitor the process with cameras. ”