Come March, it will have been four years since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant triggered massive leaks of radioactive material.
Work to remove unspent nuclear fuel from a storage pool at the heavily damaged No. 4 reactor building was completed at the end of last year as planned. Efforts to clear debris, a major source of radiation, from the wrecked nuclear plant have also made progress. As a result, the areas where workers need to wear full-face protection masks have narrowed.
These facts seem to suggest that the Fukushima cleanup work is finally beginning to move smoothly forward.
However, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, said last autumn that operations to remove spent and melted nuclear fuel from the No. 1 reactor will be delayed by two to five years from the original schedule. Earlier this month, the embattled electric utility also said the disposal of radioactive water stored in on-site tanks will not be finished on schedule.
--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 30