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Removal of Fukushima nuclear fuel delayed up to five years

Christian Fernsby |
The Japanese government has announced that plans to remove spent nuclear fuel from two reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have been delayed up to five years.

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The announcement has increased doubts of whether the government is able to achieve its target of dismantling the complex within the next 30 to 40 years.

The process to remove spent fuel from reactors No.1 and No.2, which is estimated to take two years to achieve, was scheduled to begin in 2023. The latest decommissioning plan says that the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), will not begin the process in reactor No.1 until 2027 or 2028. Work in reactor No. 2 is now expected to start between 2024 and 2026.

The government says the delay is to allow for extra safety precautions to be made, primarily the construction of an enclosure around reactor No.1 which will prevent the spread of radioactive dust. This is the fourth time that plans for the removal of Fukushima’s fuel rods have been delayed. If no more delays are announced, the plan is to have all 4,741 spent fuel rods removed from Fukushima’s six reactors 2031.

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