Fuel removal project halted at Japan's Fukushima plant
TOKYO, March 28
TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Work to remove spent fuel rod assemblies from Japan's destroyed Fukushima reactor has been halted after possible damage to a giant crane, the first major delay in an operation to remove 1,533 fuel assemblies from a holding pool.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has been retrieving highly irradiated spent fuel rods from the No. 4 reactor building at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
Fuel retrieveal was halted after a worker started moving a crane used to lift the fuel assemblies out of the pool without disengaging the handbrake on Wednesday, generating a warning alarm, a Tepco spokesman said.
Workers and the crane's manufacturer were inspecting the equipment and hoped to restart operations as soon as possible.
Tepco has floundered for much of the past 2-1/2 years in dealing with problems at the site, including a series of leaks of radioactive water from hastily built tanks at the site.
The delicate task of removing the fuel assemblies - each weighing about 300 kg (660 pounds) and containing 50 to 70 fuel rods - began last November and has won the company rare praise.