Hirose made the comments in a meeting with assembly members from Fukushima Prefecture. Hazardous work to transfer the rods from reactor 4 to a spent-fuel pool at another location has been going more quickly than expected, he told reporters after the meeting.
Tepco began extracting hundreds of spent fuel assemblies from the plant — which was heavily damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami — in November. As of July 10, 1,188 of the 1,533 fuel rods had been removed.
In a related move aimed at drawing a line under the nuclear crisis, the government said it is planning a survey in September for a site in Miyagi Prefecture that could be used to store radioactive waste from the Fukushima disaster for good, a senior official said.
The survey should be complete by mid-November, Senior Vice Environment Minister Shinji Inoue said. He made the comments after visiting Kurihara and the towns of Taiwa and Kami — the three Miyagi municipalities picked as candidate sites.
After meeting with Inoue, Kami Mayor Hirobumi Inomata said he told the senior vice environment minister that his city will not accept the survey, adding such an investigation should not be launched without residents’ consent.
Earlier this month, however, Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai told Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara that the prefecture was ready to accept the survey and that an agreement had already been reached.