Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will begin removing fuel rods from a damaged reactors a year ahead of schedule, a government minister said Thursday, a move to address concerns about the risk of a new quake that could cause a further accident and scatter more radioactive debris.
“We would like to start taking out undamaged fuel this year. Preparation is now under way,” Japan’s nuclear crisis minister, Goshi Hosono, told Reuters in an interview.
“Doing it quickly is important. But we also have to make sure those workers out there, who are struggling under harsh conditions, will not be endangered by trying to move things fast.”
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), operator of the plant, had said in April it aimed to begin removing the fuel rods from the No. 4 reactor at the end of next year.
That would have left large quantities of radioactive fuel rods outside the protection of strong containment vessels for two and a half years after the accident.
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