TOKYO Oct 28 Japan will likely need more than
30 years to dismantle the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear
power plant, the Atomic Energy Commission said on Friday,
underscoring its prolonged challenges after the world's worst
nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
A massive earthquake and tsunami in March knocked out
cooling functions at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (Tepco)
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing fuel rod
meltdowns and radiation leakage into the atmosphere.
A subcommittee of the Atomic Energy Commission, comprising
nuclear and other experts who recommend the direction of nuclear
policy to the government, called for the removal of melted
nuclear fuel rods to start within 10 years.
At the Three Mile Island plant in the United States, fuel
removal started six and a half years after the meltdown accident
in 1979, but it will likely take longer at the Fukushima complex
since it suffered a severer accident, the subcommittee said in a
The subcommittee estimated it would take more than three
decades to complete the process of taking out melted fuel rods
from damaged reactors and dismantling the plant, where workers
still face high levels of radioactive water and debris.
The report did not provide estimated costs for the whole
Tepco has acknowledged that it may not be able to remove the
fuel from the reactors for another 10 years and experts say
cleanup at the plant could take several decades.
(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Yoko Nishikawa)