The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant started removing nuclear fuel on Monday from the Unit 3 storage pool, located at one of the reactor buildings damaged by hydrogen explosions in the 2011 disaster at the site.

It is the first fuel removal operation by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco) from the storage pools for the Nos. 1 to 3 units, which suffered meltdowns after losing power following a powerful earthquake and tsunami.

The start of the work was delayed by more than four years due to a series of malfunctions of the devices necessary for the operation, and high-level radiation observed in the area also posed a significant challenge, the operator said.