April 20, 2022
On April 20, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced that it will fix a pipe contaminated with highly radioactive materials between Units 1 and 2 of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture) to another nearby pipe with a wire rope because the pipe has become brittle due to multiple problems during cutting. Some of the contaminated pipes are on the verge of breaking, and there is a risk that they may break off and hang down due to earthquakes or other causes.
The pipes to be cut are about 30 cm in diameter. 90% of the pipes to be removed for the first time (about 11 meters long and weighing about 1 ton) were cut on March 27 by a remote-controlled device on one side. The strength of the piping has decreased.
On March 19, an investigation revealed that the warping of the broken pipe had increased, and on March 20, work began to wrap the wire rope around the pipe by remote control using a crane. (Note: A TEPCO spokesperson corrected the explanation on the 21st, saying that “workers entered the site to wrap the rope around the pipes.)
The investigation into the cause of the trouble has not been completed, and the resumption of removal is not expected. TEPCO had planned to remove the piping, which totals 135 meters, in 26 sections by the end of April, but has changed the target to the end of September.
The pipes were used in the venting of contaminated steam inside the reactor to prevent the containment vessel from rupturing immediately after the accident in March 2011. 11 years have passed, but people still cannot get to them. （Eleven years have passed, and no one can get close to it.)