"Tepco Prepares to Remove Fuel Assemblies at Fukushima"

"TOKYO -- Operators of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant this month will begin a potentially hazardous operation to remove fuel rods from one of the reactor units, a critical step in what is expected to be a decadeslong cleanup of the site of one of the worst nuclear-energy accidents in history."

"Tokyo Electric Power Co., known as Tepco, plans to transfer 1,533 metal casings holding nuclear-fuel pellets from their precarious storage pool -- 130 feet above the ground in one of the plant's reactors -- to a common pool serving all six reactors.

Tepco is touting the removal of the 550-lb assembly units as a milestone in what has so far been a troubled cleanup process. Since the March 2011 quake and tsunami crippled the plant, Tepco has had several mishaps, from brief power failures—caused in one case by rats gnawing through cables—to recent disclosures that storage containers holding contaminated water have sprung leaks, allowing at least some radiation to reach the ocean waters adjacent to the plant."

Mari Iwata and William Sposato report for the Wall St. Journal November 7, 2013.

SEE ALSO:

"Tepco Feeling Heat Over Fuel Removal" (Japan Times)

"Tepco Strives for Milestone at Fukushima With Fuel Removal" (Bloomberg)

"TEPCO Seeks to Reassure Public Over Nuclear Fuel Removal at Fukushima" (Voice of America)

Source: Wall St. Journal, 11/08/2013