The operator of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant began removing fuel rods Monday from one of three reactors that melted down in 2011.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said workers started removing the first of the used and unused fuel units from a cooling pool at reactor 3.
The operation was was more than four years behind schedule, and had a short further delay Monday afternoon, after a problem with the equipment, but resumed after the mishap was addressed.
TEPCO has estimated that it will take up to two years to remove 566 of nuclear fuel rods from that reactor.
The work is being managed remotely from a control room about 500 meters away, because of high radiation level still present inside the building of Unit 3.
After the cleaning operation at Unit 3, TEPCO expects to continue with the removal of 1000 nuclear fuel rods from the storage pools of reactors one and two.
The three units at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant melted down after a major earthquake, followed by a tsunami struck Japan in 2011, killing about 18 thousand people and forced the evacuation of areas near the plant.