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10:14 GMT +3 hours19 December 2014
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Japan says Fukushima cleanup will take decades

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Decommissioning of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, crippled in the March 2011 quake and tsunami, will take decades, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Saturday in the first government announcement of a long-term timeframe for the cleanup.

Decommissioning of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, crippled in the March 2011 quake and tsunami, will take decades, Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Saturday in the first government announcement of a long-term timeframe for the cleanup.

A 9.0-magnitude quake struck off Japan's northeast coast on March 11, triggering a tsunami and explosions at the Fukushima, which caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986.

The Japan Atomic Energy Commission and Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) have set a goal of starting the removal of melted nuclear fuel at about 2021, public broadcaster NHK said.

The TV channel reported that the authorities, the operator and equipment manufacturers also expect "several decades" to pass before the reactors are ready to be dismantled, citing a long-term roadmap for bringing the plant under control.

In late June the Japanese government announced that the double natural disaster could cost the country up to 16.9 trillion yen (about $210 bln). The estimates do not include the damages from a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the government said.