A Tokyo power company has started removing fuel rods from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant. The plant was badly damaged and suffered meltdowns after a huge earthquake and tsunami hit it in 2011. Workers started removing the nuclear fuel on Monday, five years behind schedule. The work to move the hazardous rods was delayed because of many malfunctions in the devices that were designed for the removal operation. Another factor causing delays was high levels of radiation in the area. This created a "significant challenge" for engineers.
The company is removing seven unspent nuclear fuel rods from the reactor's pool. There are a total of 1,573 fuel rods at the power plant. These rods will be transferred to safer storage pools. The work should be finished by the end of March 2021. A company spokesman said: "I believe everything is going well so far. We will watch the progress at the site as we put safety first. Our goal is not to rush the process but to carefully proceed." Another spokesman said: "Safety is our priority. We will carefully continue this work." Japan's Prime Minister said the country would do its best to rebuild.