The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has announced that it completed the removal of all remaining nuclear fuel assemblies from the storage pool of a reactor building for safe storage in a facility in the plant's compound.
This is the first time the firm has relocated all fuel units from any of the plant's three reactors that suffered a meltdown following the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Company made the announcement on Sunday after removing the last six fuel assemblies from the pool of the No.3 reactor building earlier in the day. The removal is part of efforts to decommission the plant.
In April 2019, TEPCO launched work to relocate all 566 unused and spent fuel units that had been left in the pool on the building's highest floor since the 2011 accident.
The start of the removal operation came four years and four months later than initially scheduled. It had taken longer than expected to clear debris and radioactive substances scattered by a hydrogen explosion at the building in the early days of the nuclear disaster.
Despite the decontamination procedure, areas around the pool still registered high levels of radiation, prompting TEPCO to deploy specially-designed remote-controlled equipment to lift and remove the fuel units.
The company had completed the removal of all fuel assemblies from the storage pool of the No.4 reactor building in December 2014. That reactor did not experience a meltdown.
TEPCO plans to begin relocating fuel units from the storage pools of the No.1 and No.2 reactor buildings as early as fiscal 2027 and fiscal 2024, respectively. Both reactors suffered a meltdown.
TEPCO said it will place top priority on ensuring safety and make the most of lessons it learned from the removal work on the No.3 reactor building when it transfers fuel units from the No.1 and No.2 reactor buildings.