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Tepco Ordered to Create Road Map to Decommission Reactors

The Japanese government ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to draw up a road map to decommission the damaged four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant in a process that could take 30 years.

The utility known as Tepco should start removing fuel rods in spent fuel pools within two years and melted fuel in reactors within 10 years, said Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge of responding to the nuclear disaster, in a meeting with Tepco President Toshio Nishizawa in Tokyo today. Tepco must submit the roadmap by the end of this year, Hosono said.

The March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, about 220 kilometers (137 miles) north of Tokyo, leading to three meltdowns and radiation leaks. Decommissioning the four reactors will cost at least 1.15 trillion yen ($15 billion), a government investigation of Tepco’s finances revealed in a report last month.

“Full scale government’s involvement will be necessary in the decommission process,” Hosono told reporters after the meeting. Tepco must submit a roadmap that will continue regardless of the utility’s corporate structure and financial situation, he said.

It may take more than 30 years to dismantle the reactors, a sub-committee of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission said in a draft report today. Normal decommissioning takes about 15 years, said the JAEC sub-committee headed by Kyoto University Professor Hajimu Yamana.

At the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979, fuel removal started about six and a half years later and was completed in 10 years, the sub-committee said.

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