World

Japan OKs fuel removal from pool at nuclear plant

Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa called it “a major step.”

Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa called it “a major step.”

TOKYO — Japanese regulators gave final approval on Wednesday for the removal of fuel rods from an uncontained cooling pool at a damaged reactor building considered the highest risk at a crippled nuclear plant.

Removing the fuel rods from the Unit 4 cooling pool is the first major step in a decommissioning process that is expected to last decades at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where three reactors melted down after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Advertisement

The Nuclear Regulation Authority said at its weekly meeting that the proposal by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., is appropriate and that the removal can start in November as planned, following an on-site inspection by regulators.

‘‘It’s a major step toward decommissioning,’’ said Toyoshi Fuketa, one of the authority’s five commissioners.

Get Today's Headlines in your inbox:
The day's top stories delivered every morning.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The Unit 4 reactor was offline when the plant was hit by the disasters, but the building was damaged by hydrogen explosions and fire. Fuel rods in the pool, however, have since been properly cooled and are safe enough to remove, officials said.

Associated Press

Loading comments...
Real journalists. Real journalism. Subscribe to The Boston Globe today.