Fukushima Fuel Debris Removal Postponed Again

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Fukushima Fuel Debris Removal Postponed Again

The removal of melted fuel debris from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a crucial step in its decommissioning process, has been postponed for the third time. The delay is attributed to the insufficient precision of a robotic arm designed to extract the debris.

Initially scheduled for 2021, the task was first pushed back due to delays in developing the remote-controlled arm. Now, the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant operator, have announced that they will begin using an alternative "fishing rod-style device" in October.

TEPCO aims to continue testing the robotic arm and eventually incorporate it into the removal process. The company emphasized that it is committed to using public funding responsibly and avoiding hasty deployment that could result in an incident.

Despite the delay, TEPCO maintains that the overall timeline for decommissioning the plant by 2051 will not be affected. The company has also presented a plan to release treated radioactive water from the plant in fiscal 2024.

According to the plan, roughly 54,600 tons of treated wastewater will be discharged into the ocean in seven batches, diluted with seawater to reduce the concentration of tritium. Independent analyses have not detected abnormal radiation levels in the surrounding areas following previous releases.