Japan issues 30 to 40 year plan to scrap reactors

The Fukushima Daiichi plant leaked  radioactive particles when an earthquake and tsunami hit Japan in March.

Story highlights

  • The work could take 30 to 40 years
  • People living near the plant were displaced
  • The decommission plan has three phrases
  • The earthquake and tsunami killed thousands

Japanese officials unveiled a decades-long plan Wednesday to decommission the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where reactor cooling systems failed after the country's devastating earthquake and tsunami in March.

The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the work schedule would proceed over three or four decades to scrap the four crippled reactors at the site.

There are three phases, according to the plan.

It will begin with the removal of nuclear fuel in spent fuel pools within two years. That task is scheduled to be completed within 10 years. The plan also calls for commencing the removal of fuel debris within 10 years with the goal of completing that work in 20 to 25 years.

The reactors will be completely decommissioned in 30 to 40 years, according to the plan.

The plume of radioactive particles that spewed from Fukushima Daiichi displaced about 80,000 people who live within a 20-kilometers (12.5 mile) radius of the plant, as well as residents of one village as far as 40 kilometers to the northwest.

The earthquake and tsunami killed more than 15,000 people in northeastern Japan.