DISASTER MANAGEMENT

Fukushima fuel cooling system stops again:TEPCO

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 5, 2013


Radioactive water may have leaked from Fukushima: TEPCO
Tokyo (AFP) April 6, 2013 – Radioactive water may have leaked into the ground from a tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operator said Saturday, the latest in a series of troubles at the crippled facility.Up to 120 tonnes of contaminated water may have escaped from one of the seven underground reservoir tanks at the tsunami-damaged plant, according to a Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) spokesman.

The tank stores water used to cool down the reactors after radioactive caesium is removed but other radioactive substances remain.

“We are transferring the remaining water from the tank to others,” the TEPCO spokesman said, adding that the company believes the contaminated water was unlikely to flow into the sea.

The leakage came after one of the systems keeping spent atomic fuel cool at the plant temporarily failed on Friday, the second outage in a matter of weeks, underlining the precarious fix at the plant.

Nuclear fuel, even after use, has to be kept cool to prevent it from overheating and beginning a self-sustaining atomic reaction that could lead to meltdown.

The plant was hit by the giant tsunami of March 2011 as reactors went into meltdown and spewed radiation over a wide area, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes and polluting farmland.

 

One of the systems keeping spent atomic fuel cool at the Fukushima nuclear plant temporarily failed on Friday, the second outage in a matter of weeks, underlining the precarious fix at the plant.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said an alarm sounded at the facility at 2:27 pm (0527 GMT), and technicians soon confirmed that the cooling system for the pool attached to reactor 3 was not working.

Nuclear fuel, even after use, has to be kept cool to prevent it from overheating and beginning a self-sustaining atomic reaction that could lead to meltdown.

The problem, which was fixed in about three hours, occurred as work crew placed a metal mesh around a switchboard in a bid to prevent small animals from touching it, a TEPCO spokesman told a press conference.

The measures were taken after a rat got inside the switchboard last month, causing a short-circuit that knocked out power for sections of the crippled plant and stopped cooling systems for four storage pools.

That time, it took nearly 30 hours for TEPCO to fully fix the problem.

The TEPCO spokesman said a wire or the mesh might have touched the ground while crews put the mesh in place, unintentionally grounding the equipment and knocking it offline.

TEPCO apologised for the problem, but stressed that it had not posed any immediate danger.

However, the incident served as a reminder of the precarious state of the Fukushima plant, more than two years after it was hit by the giant tsunami of March 2011, and critics were quick to jump on the fault.

 

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Tepco Says Fukushima Plant Leaked 120 Tons of Radioactive Water

By Tsuyoshi Inajima – Apr 6, 2013 9:30 PM CT

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) said thousands of gallons of highly radioactive water has leaked from an underground pool at the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant and may have seeped into the soil.

Tepco estimates about 120 tons (32,280 gallons) of radioactive water has escaped, company spokesman Daisuke Hirose said, adding it was uncertain how much contaminated water has soaked into the soil. While he said the utility plans to complete pumping the remaining water to other underground pools by April 9, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority today said “a small quantity” of radioactive water may be leaking from another tank.

The leak is the latest stumble in efforts to stabilize the plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that caused the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. Tepco continues to inject water into the damaged reactors to cool them, and the leaked water contains about 710 billion becquerels of radiation, the most since the facility reached a stable state known as cold shutdown in December 2011, Hirose said.

 

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