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Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said Sunday it has removed all 566 nuclear fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool of the No. 3 reactor at its Fukushima No. 1 plant.

It is the first time that fuel removal has been completed for any of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns in the March 2011 accident at the plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

The fuel removal operation at the No. 3 reactor began in April 2019.

On Sunday, the company using remote control devices moved the last six assemblies to a common storage facility within the plant premises. A large covering was placed over the upper part of the No. 3 reactor building to prevent radioactive substances from being scattered.

Tepco planned to start the fuel removal from the No. 3 reactor building as early as late 2014, but delayed the schedule repeatedly as it faced difficulty getting rid of debris left by the explosion in the building.

The operation also took more time than expected due to machinery malfunction issues.

The removal of 1,533 fuel assemblies from the No. 4 reactor building was completed in December 2014.

Tepco aims to finish pulling all fuel assemblies out of other reactor buildings by the end of 2031, including the No. 1 building, where a lot of debris is scattered about, and the No. 2 building, where radiation levels are particularly high.

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