FUKUSHIMA - Tepco on Sunday began installing equipment to be used for removing fuel from the storage pool for reactor 3 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
The equipment, weighing 72 tons, was lifted by two large cranes.
The storage pool, located in the reactor building on a floor 36 meters above ground level, holds 566 spent and unused nuclear fuel assemblies.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. plans to begin removing the fuel from the pool by the middle of next year.
The installation work was originally slated to start Saturday but was postponed due to strong winds.
The fuel assemblies are to be placed in sturdy containers that will be tightly sealed to block emissions of strong radiation.
The work will be conducted in the water-filled pool, and then the containers will be lowered to the ground using a different crane and transferred to another pool some distance from the reactor, where they will be stored.
The building housing the No. 3 reactor was heavily damaged by a hydrogen explosion shortly after the power station was knocked out by the tsunami following the magnitude 9 earthquake in March 2011.
After debris from the blast was removed from the upper part of the No. 3 reactor, Tepco started work in late July this year to install a cover on top of the reactor to shield the fuel-removing equipment from weather damage and prevent radioactive materials from spreading.
The crane to be used for lowering the fuel containers to the ground is slated to be installed in the upper part of the reactor on Nov. 20.