Japan’s industry minister says the government hopes to have a policy in place by around September on how to remove melted fuel from the No.3 reactor of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Hiroshige Seko told reporters on Tuesday that a robotic probe has confirmed lumps that could be fuel debris in the No.3 reactor, giving researchers valuable information.
Seko said he hopes a policy on how to remove the debris can be formulated, based on an analysis and assessment of the probe’s findings.
During the survey last week, a submersible robot found lumps below the reactor pressure vessel and at the bottom of the containment vessel.
It’s the first time a probe has identified what could be a mixture of melted nuclear fuel and broken metal parts lodged inside a reactor container.
Removing the fuel debris would require the use of remote-controlled robots. It is considered the most challenging step in the process to decommission the reactor.
The industry minister suggested that the government plans to honor the existing timetable for decommissioning.
The plan calls for setting specific methods for removing fuel debris by the first half of 2018, so the actual work can begin by 2021.