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Fukushima fuel rods removed from harm's way

Posting in Energy
Japan's Fukushima Reactor, home of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, is being carefully dismantled as workers attempt to stablilize the site. 

After the March 2011 tsunami and reactor meltdown, Fukushima has continued to be a problem, with radiation flowing into the world's oceans and trade in the region slowing as worries persist over the safety of produce grown nearby. 

In October, the Japanese government asked for international help with the problem, and outlined solutions including the use of ice rings to contain radiation. Now, workers are removing fuel rods from a storage pond at the Unit 4 reactor building -- which is a necessary safety measure to begin containment and prevent further radiation leaks. 

According to plant operator Tepco, the operation to remove the first 22 fuel rods will take two days. Over 1,500 fuel rod assemblies have to be removed from the site in total, rendering the operation at least a year long. 

Hydrogen explosions have left the site vulnerable to tremors, which could render the fuel rods unstable. Each rod, four meters long and containing uranium, will have to be lifted out in casks to prevent accidental contact with air, which could cause overheating or contamination. Workers must also detect whether any rods have been damaged by the tsunami. 

The rods will be moved out of harm's way and placed into a new "common" cooling system. 

Speaking to the BBC, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said: 

"We hope that this will be conducted in a manner that will not disturb local residents, and that the removal will be done on schedule, properly and safely." 

Via: BBC

— By on November 19, 2013, 12:47 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure