More leaks found at crippled Japan N-plant

Leaks of radioactive water have become more frequent at Japan`s crippled N-power plant after it was declared basically stable.

Tokyo: Leaks of radioactive water have become
more frequent at Japan`s crippled nuclear power plant less
than two months after it was declared basically stable.

The problem underlines the continuing challenges facing
Tokyo Electric Power Co as it attempts to keep the Fukushima
Dai-ichi nuclear plant under control.

A massive earthquake and tsunami badly damaged the plant
last March, resulting in the melting of three reactor cores.

Workers spotted a leak today at a water reprocessing unit
which released enough beta rays to cause radiation sickness,
TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said. He said no one was
injured and the leak stopped after bolts were tightened on a

Matsumoto said TEPCO also found that 8.5 tons of
radioactive water had leaked earlier in the week after a pipe
became detached at Unit 4, one of the plant`s six reactors.

The company earlier had estimated that only a few gallons
(liters) had leaked.

He said officials are investigating the cause of that
leak, but that it was unlikely the pipe had been loosened by
the many aftershocks that have hit the plant.

The structural integrity of the damaged Unit 4 reactor
building has long been a major concern among experts because a
collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disaster
worse than the three reactor meltdowns.

Cold winter weather has also caused water inside pipes to
freeze elsewhere at the plant, resulting in leaks in at least
30 locations since late January, Matsumoto said.

Officials have not detected any signs of radioactive water
from the leaks reaching the surrounding ocean.

Sandbag walls have been built around problem areas as a

More than 100,000 people around the plant fled their homes
after the disaster due to radiation fears.

The government announced in December that the plant had
reached "a cold shutdown condition" and is now essentially

On Monday, six inspectors from the government`s Nuclear
and Industrial Safety Agency will begin an inspection of the
plant to ensure its continued stability.

They will study the reactors` cooling functions and
measures to prevent explosions and nuclear chain reactions,
among other steps to keep the plant under control, officials


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