Fukushima nuclear cleanup starts

World | AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE 16 Apr 2019

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima power plant began removing atomic fuel from inside a building housing one of the reactors that melted down in 2011.

The delicate operation is the first time the Tokyo Electric Power Co has pulled out fuel rods from inside a contaminated building containing the melted-down reactor, and is four years behind schedule.

Due to high radiation levels, technicians used remote-controlled equipment to haul fuel from a storage pool in the building. "We will spend two years removing 566 units of fuel from reactor three," said Takahiro Kimoto, a Tepco spokesman.

Tepco removed four units as planned yesterday, with workers continuing to remove debris that have fallen inside the pool and other areas, Kimoto said.

Engineers will not yet attempt to extract molten nuclear fuel that remains deep inside the mangled reactor. This is the most difficult part of the massive clean-up operation and is not expected to begin until 2021.

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