The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant intends to send a robot into the No.2 reactor building as early as next week to measure interior radiation levels in detail.
It is a key step toward removing all 615 nuclear fuel rod units that remain in a storage pool in the building, and eventually decommissioning the reactor.
The pool is located on the top floor of the building. The No.2 reactor experienced a meltdown after the major earthquake and tsunami that hit eastern Japan in 2011.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, plans to transfer the fuel units to reduce the risks posed by possible earthquakes and other factors.
TEPCO needs to map radiation levels and other detailed conditions inside the building before retrieving the fuel units.
The utility on Thursday finished breaching a wall of the building to allow entry to a robot and heavy machinery. Work on the 5-meter wide and 7-meter high hole started last month.
TEPCO plans to send a robot fitted with a camera and a radiation measurement device through the opening as early as next week.
And TEPCO could start removing the fuel around fiscal 2023 based upon the survey results.
TEPCO also seeks to begin retrieving nuclear fuel from the No.1 reactor around fiscal 2023 and from the No.3 reactor as soon as this autumn. Both reactors had a meltdown following the natural disaster.