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At Long Last, Radioactive Fuel Rod Removal Begins in Fukushima

The operator of Japan’s ruined Fukushima nuclear power plant began removing  the first of 566 spent and unspent radioactive fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s third reactor.

A radiation-hardened robot had first located the melted uranium fuel inside the reactor in 2017. The rods are dangerous partly because the pools are not enclosed, and they could be vulnerable in the event of another major earthquake.

There are 1,573 fuel rods still inside the storage pools of the three reactors that melted down in 2011, the Kyodo News agency reported on Monday. Tokyo Electric said that the cleanup at the third reactor would take just under two years, and that it planned to eventually remove uranium from all three reactors.

NNSA Surveillance of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster in 2011
Combined results of 211 flight hours of aerial monitoring operations and ground measurements made by DOE, DoD and Japanese monitoring teams. (April 2011). Credit: NNSA

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