Fuel-removal work at the storage pool for reactor 3 of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has been pushed back to mid-fiscal 2018 due to equipment malfunctions and high radiation, the utility and the government said.
The announcement Thursday by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. marks the second postponement of fuel-removal work that was originally scheduled to begin in January 2018.
The storage pool contains 514 spent fuel assemblies and 52 fresh ones.
Reactor 3 is one of three reactors hit by core meltdowns at the six-reactor plant following the mega-quake and tsunami that wrecked Tohoku’s Pacific coastline on of March 11, 2011.
According to the government and Tepco officials, fuel removal was delayed by work to bring down radiation at the storage pool and problems with a crane and other equipment used to remove the debris generated by the hydrogen explosion that gutted the reactor building in the early stage of the crisis.
It is not known if or when fuel removal will be completed.
At unit 3, preparations to install a cover on the upper part of the reactor building are underway and the work is expected to be completed in fiscal 2018.
The fuel removal was initially slated to start in the first half of fiscal 2015, but the government and Tepco pushed back the timing to January 2018 following a June 2015 review of the reactor-decommissioning road map.
All six reactors at the plant are set to be scrapped.