Tokyo residence watch as half of a city block is left in the dark during a rolling black out in the Shinjuku region of Tokya, March 29, 2011. Tokyo Electric Power Co. implemented rolling blackout to conserve power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear power plant incident. UPI/Keizo Mori | License Photo
TOKYO, May 16 (UPI) -- Japan's prime minister said the timeline to shut down reactors at a quake-crippled nuclear power plant is unchanged, even though damage is worse than feared.
The shutdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant will be accomplished by the end of the year, Prime Minister Naoto Kan told Parliament.
New information shows damage to the plant from a March 11 earthquake and tsunami was worse than had been thought, the Voice of America reported Monday.
In the latest setback, workers trying to restore the cooling system of the plant's No. 1 reactor suspended the effort because the partially melted nuclear fuel rods in the reactor had poked holes in their containment vessel, causing about 3,000 tons of contaminated water to escape to the building's basement.
The fuel rods in the No. 1 reactor partially melted after being exposed following the disaster. A full meltdown was prevented as the rods dropped to the bottom of the containment vessel.
The BBC reported the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., hoped to have new plan for stabilizing the reactor by Tuesday.
The VOA reported the utility on Sunday also announced the fuel cores of two more Fukushima reactors had been damaged and that cooling water was leaking. Repair work continues to be hampered because of high radiation levels.
The utility said Monday it will start taking radioactive water from the No. 3 reactor into a waste-disposing facility so the water won't escape into the environment, Kyodo News reported.
In another development, some of the Fukushima prefecture residents near the plant were moved farther away with the extension of a "no-go" zone around the disabled facility. The residents were taken to evacuation centers, the BBC said.
The no-go zone was widened because of concerns of a rise in radiation levels in the area.