The Japanese nuclear industry will start critical tests soon of the British-made machine it bought to repair a serious defect in several of its reactors (The Engineer, 24 October 1996) .
The remote-controlled milling machine from Fermanite Silk Engineering will be used to cut out damaged thermal shields on three reactors at the Fukushima site next year.
But first the country’s Nuclear Power Engineering Test Centre, has to be satisfied the cutting tool will do its job.
Trials by the test centre, an independent organisation half-owned by the government, will be carried out in a non-radioactive environment – a Hitachi facility 100km east of Tokyo.
The trial will involve cutting out a shield or `shroud’ from a reactor pressure vessel and inserting a new one.
It should be finished by early summer and the post-trial evaluations completed by the end of the year.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company and its main contractor Toshiba would then start the operation to replace the shroud on unit 3 at the Fukushima plant in the first quarter of 1998.
Work on units 2 and 1 would follow soon after.