TEPCO floats balloon plan to inspect reactor's top floor

July 31, 2012

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, plans to inspect the top floor of the No. 1 reactor building using a balloon equipped with cameras, possibly in early August.

The plan, presented July 30 to the government and TEPCO's joint meeting on mid- to long-term measures on dealing with the disaster, is part of preparations for extracting nuclear fuel from a spent fuel storage pool on the top floor of the No. 1 reactor building.

A hydrogen explosion rocked the No. 1 reactor building on March 12 last year, one day after the plant was swamped by towering tsunami. The explosion shattered the building's ceiling and filled the top floor with debris. Inspection from above is difficult, because the No. 1 reactor building has been encased in a protective shield since October.

TEPCO plans to inspect the top floor of the building by floating a balloon equipped with four cameras through an opening in the ceiling that extends from the ground floor to the fifth floor.

TEPCO has not yet decided on specific time frames for extracting fuel from the No. 1 reactor building, because it is focusing first on fuel extraction from the No. 4 reactor building.

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
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Steel frames of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant's No. 1 reactor building are laid bare on March 12, 2011, following a hydrogen explosion. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

Steel frames of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant's No. 1 reactor building are laid bare on March 12, 2011, following a hydrogen explosion. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

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  • Steel frames of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant's No. 1 reactor building are laid bare on March 12, 2011, following a hydrogen explosion. (Provided by Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

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