Unit 3 saw considerable work take place in the last year.
The torus of this unit was considered to be leaking as are the other two that suffered meltdowns. TEPCO doesn’t elaborate where and how it is leaking. TEPCO called the unit 3 torus “mostly sound” but didn’t say what way it isn’t sound.
Debris removal began on the refueling floor. One piece of debris read 540 mSv/h. TEPCO didn’t show a photo of the specific piece of debris.
Worker “Happy” did a number of media interviews after he ended his work at Daiichi due to reaching his exposure limit. He said he was outside when unit 3 exploded and was covered in black soot by the blast.
By June, about half of the debris was removed from the refueling floor. The remains of the upper wall were also being removed.
In July workers saw steam out of the reactor well . This had been seen on earlier videos. With debris removed it became more obvious. TEPCO tried to dismiss the steam as due to rainwater but later admitted it is likely from containment.
Radiation readings and a heat image were published in July that showed the location of the steam leak and an area near the gate to the spent fuel pool had higher radiation levels that elsewhere. The steam location also showed a higher heat signature.
As part of the attempt to explain the steam leak to the press TEPCO ended up admitting to some key issues about the meltdown at unit 3 that were long suspected. They admitted that unit 3 is leaking steam via the containment structure and did so from the same location in 2011. They also admitted that the explosion at u3 was at least in part a steam explosion.
TEPCO also admitted in August that they are finding alpha emitters in the filters of the gas handing system for unit 3. They are not finding similar readings in the gas handling system of units 1 and 2.
An updated list of radiation readings above the reactor well were given that showed consistently high levels of 1 sievert or higher in many locations. With one reading over 2 sieverts/hr.
In November work to remove more debris inside unit 3 on the first floor was announced. The SoRa robot is being used to help do this work.
By the end of 2013 TEPCO began a seismic inspection of unit 3 after the refueling floor debris removal was completed.
As part of the first floor debris removal work, a contaminated water leak was found coming out of the MSIV room. This is the protected room where the steam lines run to the turbine building and feedwater lines return cool water to the reactor. TEPCO initially tried to claim it was rainwater. When that excuse fell apart they decided it was leaking from the penetration seals where the steam lines pass through containment. TEPCO also claimed that the water level inside unit 3’s containment was high enough to reach these steam line penetration. They provided little evidence to back up this claim or explain how they came to that conclusion.
It was later admitted that the door to the MSIV room was blown in, similar to other steel doors found within the reactor building. This prevents robots or workers from entering the room but also eliminated TEPCO’s idea that the room may have standing water inside.
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