Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to start removing nuclear fuel from the spent-fuel pool at the top of the reactor 4 building at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant as early as Nov. 8, about a week earlier than scheduled, sources close to Tepco said Wednesday.

The process, to continue until the end of next year, will mark a new stage in the decommissioning of the reactors 1 to 4, which were severely damaged in the nuclear crisis triggered by the March 11, 2011, mega-quake and tsunami.

Reactor 4 unit was the only one of the four not to experience a meltdown because its fuel had been in the spent-fuel pool during maintenance work. But there is concern over the continued storage of the more than 1,000 fuel assemblies in the pool, which is located inside a reactor building that suffered a hydrogen explosion.