Work resumes at Japan N-plant after smoke scare

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 13:05

Osaka: Smoke and steam again rose from damaged reactors on Tuesday at Japan`s quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, where workers have battled to avert a large-scale disaster, reports said.

White steam-like vapour was seen rising from the number two reactor and what looked like white hazy smoke from the number three reactor, Kyodo said, adding that efforts to spray water and restore electricity had temporarily stalled.

However, work later resumed at the site, said the nuclear safety agency.

Plant staff and technicians, firefighters and military personnel have struggled to prevent a full meltdown at the seaside plant northeast of Tokyo since the March 11 tsunami knocked out its reactor cooling systems.

Japan, meanwhile, has ordered the suspension of shipments of milk and certain vegetables including spinach from regions around the plant after abnormal radiation levels were found in the products, said chief government spokesman Yukio Edano.

But "even if you eat and drink them several times it will not be a health hazard. So I would like you to act calmly," Edano said at a televised news conference.

The monster tsunami that left the power plant on the brink of meltdown measured at least 14 metres (46 feet) high, the plant`s operator said Tuesday.

The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had earlier estimated the height of the wave at 10 metres at its Fukushima No. 1 plant.

A massive 9.0-magnitude quake on March 11 triggered colossal waves along the country`s Pacific coast, crippling the plant`s cooling systems and prompting emergency operations to prevent fuel rods from melting and spewing radioactive material.
"Now we estimate the height at more than 14 metres. We have found traces of the tsunami at such elevations," TEPCO spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said, adding that the wave was 14 metres high when it passed through the plant`s parking area.

A tsunami can surge to an elevation higher than its height at the time when it hits shore, Japanese media noted.

High levels of radioactive substances have been detected in the seawater near the plant.

The substances were detected in seawater which was sampled Monday about 100 metres south of the Fukushima plant, Tsunoda said, stressing it was not a threat to human health.
"Normally, such radioactive substances are not detected in the area," said Tsunoda, adding that the company will continue monitoring at the same point and in other areas.

TEPCO said the level of iodine-131 was 126.7 times higher and caesium-134 was 24.8 times higher than government-set standards.

The level of caesium-137 was also 16.5 times higher while that of cobalt-58 was lower than the standard, said Tsunoda.


First Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011 - 13:05

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