The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has suggested removing fuel from one of the damaged reactors will be delayed until around late 2018. That's about half a year later than scheduled.
A total of 566 spent and unused fuel assemblies remain in the fuel pool of the No. 3 reactor.
TEPCO only started to install a cover for devices to remove the fuel units this month, 9 months behind schedule.
TEPCO officials say it took more time than expected to decontaminate the site and install lead plates to block radiation.
The Chief Decommissioning Officer Naohiro Masuda told reporters on Thursday that fuel removal will not start by the end of March this year, as planned.
He explained that workers will first need to install devices to lift and transfer the fuel units, and then assemble a cover for the devices. TEPCO officials say they can't forecast when the work will be complete.
Masuda said the company is making safety the first priority but he hopes, by devising ways to work efficiently, it can start removing fuel as soon as possible.
This is the second time the utility has announced a delay in its removal schedule.