The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has begun removing nuclear fuel from a storage pool inside one of the damaged reactor buildings at the complex.
This is the first time for Tokyo Electric Power Company to remove fuel from any of the three buildings housing reactors that underwent meltdowns after the earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan about eight years ago.
On Monday, workers began lifting the first unit of unused nuclear fuel from the pool of the No.3 reactor building.
TEPCO plans to move several of the 52 unused fuel units stored in the pool to a transport container during the day. The pool also holds 514 units of spent fuel.
The container will then be transferred to another pool within the plant compound. Workers will conduct all the removal procedures by remote control.
To prepare for the removal work, the firm cleared and decontaminated the top floor of the No.3 reactor building.
A hydrogen explosion scattered debris on the floor during the 2011 accident, and radiation levels had been very high.
The preparations and a series of problems that arose during the process forced TEPCO to delay the start of the removal operations by more than four years. It wants to finish the work by the end of March 2021.