Fuel removal delayed again at Fukushima

4 January 2017

Work to remove used nuclear fuel from the storage pool at unit 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan has been postponed again because of delays delay in clearing radioactive debris at the site, Asahi Shimbun reported.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) planned to begin removing 566 used nuclear fuel assemblies from the storage pool in January 2018 but the government and Tepco have announced another postponement and will decide on a new timetable in a few weeks.

The work was initially scheduled for fiscal year 2015, but was pushed back because of high radiation readings in and around the unit 3 reactor building. The building was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion in the days following the March 2011disaster, triggered by the earthquake and tsunami.

Tepco had attempted to reduce radiation levels by clearing the radioactive debris remaining at the site but the work took longer than expected because contamination was more widespread than previously thought. Radiation levels have now fallen as most of wreckage at the site has been cleared, Tepco said. The government and Tepco have said fuel retrieval the unit 1 and unit 2 reactor buildings will start in fiscal 2020 or later.

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