Power partially restored at nuclear plant in Japan

Last Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 19:53

Tokyo: Power has been restored to two fuel storage pools at Japan`s tsunami-damaged nuclear plant, but two others have been without fresh cooling water for more than a day, raising concerns about the fragility of a facility that still runs on makeshift equipment.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. Said that pool temperatures at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were well within safe levels, and that pools would remain safe for at least four days without fresh cooling water. The utility said the reactors were unaffected and no other abnormalities were found.

The cooling system was restored at two of the four pools by today evening, and the systems for the two other pools were to resume by tomorrow morning as workers complete repairs and try to determine the cause of the problem, TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told reporters.

"We now have better prospects for cooling to resume," he said.

About 50 workers in hazmat suits and full-face masks were mobilized to fix cabling that involved the last of the three switchboards that they suspect as a possible cause of the problem. The utility was also preparing a backup system in case the repairs didn`t fix the issue and "the worse comes to worst," Ono said.

Japan`s March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant`s power and cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and fuel storage pools to overheat. Massive radiation leaks from the plant have contaminated air, water and soil around the plant, causing some 160,000 residents to evacuate.

The current power outage is a test for TEPCO to show if it has learned anything from the disaster. TEPCO, which has repeatedly faced cover-up scandals, was slammed by local media today for waiting hours to disclose the blackout.
Ono acknowledged the plant was vulnerable.

"Fukushima Dai-ichi still runs on makeshift equipment, and we are trying to switch to something more permanent and dependable, which is more desirable," he said. "Considering the equipment situation, we may be pushing a little too hard."
Ono said the utility did not immediately try to switch to a backup cooling system because doing so without finding and fixing the cause could lead to a repeat of the problem but prioritized power restoration after all.

"We now have better prospects for cooling to resume," he said.

About 50 workers in hazmat suits and full-face masks were mobilized to fix cabling that involved the last of the three switchboards that they suspect as a possible cause of the problem. The utility was also preparing a backup system in case the repairs didn`t fix the issue and "the worse comes to worst," Ono said.

Japan`s March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant`s power and cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and fuel storage pools to overheat. Massive radiation leaks from the plant have contaminated air, water and soil around the plant, causing some 160,000 residents to evacuate.

The current power outage is a test for TEPCO to show if it has learned anything from the disaster. TEPCO, which has repeatedly faced cover-up scandals, was slammed by local media today for waiting hours to disclose the blackout.
Ono acknowledged the plant was vulnerable.

"Fukushima Dai-ichi still runs on makeshift equipment, and we are trying to switch to something more permanent and dependable, which is more desirable," he said. "Considering the equipment situation, we may be pushing a little too hard."
Ono said the utility did not immediately try to switch to a backup cooling system because doing so without finding and fixing the cause could lead to a repeat of the problem but prioritized power restoration after all.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 - 19:53

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