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Fuel rods to be removed from Fukushima in high-risk operation

Fuel rods to be removed from Fukushima in high-risk operation
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It is a difficult and dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale,

But the removal of over 1,500 nuclear fuel rods from a damaged reactor is a crucial part of the clean-up at Japan’s crippled Fukushima plant.

A robotic crane will pluck the highly irradiated rods from a storage pool at Reactor Number Four. If any are dropped or other mishaps occur, radiation could be released into the atmosphere.

The scheduled start of work on Friday has been delayed for more tests, aimed at guaranteeing as safe an operation as possible.

It is over two and a half years since Fukushima was hit by an earthquake and tsunami, causing meltdowns and explosions that sent plumes of radiation into the air and sea.

Some 150,000 people were evacuated.

A large area of surrounding land is off-limits because of radiation but one man never left.

Former social worker Keigo Sakamoto, 58, continues to care for the 500 animals in his sanctuary.

Authorities hope all residents will eventually be allowed to return. But with reactor operator, Tepco, struggling to stop radiation leaks, a Japanese ruling party official has said the government should identify areas that will never be habitable.

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