Tokyo, Jul 25 (EFE).- The Japanese government is looking into ways of extracting melted atomic fuel from inside the Fukushima nuclear plant's No. 3 reactor by 2021, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko said at a press conference Tuesday, according to local media.
The discovery of the fuel by a recent undersea robotic exploration presents greater difficulties for the decommissioning of the plant, he said, as cited by Kyodo news agency.
"Valuable information has been obtained from a survey inside the reactor using a submersible robot," Seko said.
The minister said that the robot captured images of materials that were "highly likely" to be melted fuel - the first pictures that show the presence of radioactive material extending from the bottom of the pressure vessel that holds the reactor core.
Seko added that the government, in collaboration with plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Japan's nuclear regulator, will decide on how to extract the fuel by September and begin this task by 2021.
"At the current stage, we will proceed with the decommissioning in line with the road map," he said.
The robotic analysis showed melted fuel deposits mixed with metal structures of the containment vessel, forming deposits that in some cases reach a meter (3.3 feet) in height, according to TEPCO.
Reactors 1, 2 and 3 suffered core meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and their dismantling will take between 30 to 40 years to complete, according to government and TEPCO plans.
The No. 3 reactor presents the greatest difficulties for evaluation as the extreme level of radioactivity prevents human operators from reaching it.
TEPCO previously used other robotic models to investigate the interior of reactors 1 and 2, where the levels of water injected were lower than in reactor 3, although it was not possible to evaluate the exact state of melted fuel in either investigation due to several technical problems. EFE
© 2017 EFE News Services (U.S.) Inc., source EFE Ingles