Workers at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have begun removing fuel rods from a storage pool near one of the three reactors that suffered meltdowns eight years ago. The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said on Monday that work had begun to remove the first of 566 used and unused fuel assemblies in reactor building No 3. The measure marks a milestone in efforts to decommission the plant, although the more critical removal of melted fuel from inside three damaged reactors will prove far more difficult. The fuel rods stored in unit No 3's cooling pool were not damaged in the 2011 disaster, when a powerful earthquake and tsunami knocked out Fukushima Daiichi's backup power supply and triggered the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl, 25 years earlier. Tepco said the operation to remove the fuel rods, which are in uncovered pools, would take two years, adding that transferring them to safer ground would better protect them in the event of another catastrophic earthquake.