Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor may be delayed

Fuel removal from Fukushima reactor may be delayed

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says work to remove spent nuclear fuel from a cooling pool at one of its reactors may be delayed.

A total of 566 fuel units remain in the cooling pool at the No.3 reactor, which suffered a meltdown in 2011. Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, planned to start removing the fuel as early as this autumn, as part of the decommissioning of the nuclear complex.

But on Thursday, TEPCO revealed the control board of a crane used in the removal malfunctioned during a test run last month. It blamed a voltage error and said the board will be replaced.

The company said the test run may be delayed by one or 2 months, pushing back the start date for fuel removal.

TEPCO's chief decommissioning officer, Akira Ono, says he takes the glitch seriously as it shows key equipment was not handled properly.

He says that although safety must come first, his team still aims to stick to the original timetable and start the removal of nuclear fuel by around the middle of the current fiscal year, which ends in March next year.