TEPCO is about to begin moving nuclear rods from one of the damaged reactor units into dry cask storage. However, Japan's governing Party suggests that TEPCO should be stripped of responsibility for decommissioning the Fukushima power plant complex.
Instead a proposal by the Liberal Democratic party (LDP) would move decommissioning responsibilities to a unit that is financially independent of TEPCO.
TEPCO is expected to begin removing 1,300 spent fuel assemblies from the remains of the reactor No 4 building towards the middle of November 2013.
Some nuclear experts have warned that even a slight mishap involving the fuel rods could result in huge releases of radiation into the air and sea.
Shunichi Tanaka, the head of Japan's nuclear regulation authority, warned that the work would be more hazardous than usual because of debris that fell into the reactors storage pool during hydrogen explosions in March 2011.They'll be using a remote controlled crane to move damaged fuel assemblies one-by-one, putting them in dry casks, before putting them into a pool for long term storage and cool-down.
"It's a totally different operation than removing normal fuel rods from a spent fuel pool," Tanaka said. "They need to be handled extremely carefully and closely monitored. You should never rush or force them out, or they may break. I'm much more worried about this than I am about contaminated water."
TEPCO claims it'll be fine with no exposure to workers.