Energy Department offers Japan fresh help with nuke cleanup

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz toured Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuke plant and offered renewed aid in the "daunting" cleanup on Friday.

While noting that the cleanup and decommissioning of the plant will take decades, Moniz said the operator of the facility is "focused on devising and implementing solutions" with the U.S. as a steady partner.

"As Japan continues to chart its sovereign path forward on the cleanup at the Fukushima site and works to determine the future of their energy economy, the United States stands ready to continue assisting our partners in this daunting yet indispensable task," Moniz said in a statement on Friday.

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Next week, the U.S. and Japanese officials will meet in Washington to continue talks as a part of the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation, which was formed late last year.

Moniz watched fuel-removal activities at the plant, which is meant to clean up contaminated groundwater surrounding Fukushima.

Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s President Naomi Hirose and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Moniz during his visit.

"It appears that spent nuclear fuel will begin to be removed from Unit 4 as scheduled in mid-November. This will be significant milestone for TEPCO and the Japanese Government and in the process of decommissioning the sit," Moniz said.

The nuclear plant suffered severe damage during an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Tokyo Electric, the plant's operator is trying to the shutter the plant.