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Water leaks indicate new damage at Fukushima nuclear plant

19 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

Cooling water levels have fallen in two reactors at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant since a powerful earthquake hit the area last weekend, indicating possible additional damage, its operator said Friday.

New damage could further complicate the plant’s already difficult decommissioning process, which is expected to take decades.

Tokyo Electric Power Co spokesman Keisuke Matsuo said the drop in water levels in the Unit 1 and 3 reactors indicates that the existing damage to their primary containment chambers was worsened by last Saturday's magnitude 7.3 quake, allowing more water to leak.

The leaked water is believed to have remained inside the reactor buildings and there is no sign of any outside impact, he said.

In 2011, a powerful magnitude 9.1 earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima plant's cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and nuclear fuel to fall to the bottom of their primary containment vessels.

TEPCO will monitor the water and temperatures at the bottom of the containment vessels, Matsuo said.

Since the 2011 disaster, cooling water has been escaping constantly from the damaged primary containment vessels into the basements of the reactor buildings. To make up for the loss, additional cooling water has been pumped into the reactors to cool the melted fuel remaining inside them. The recent decline in the water levels indicates that more water than before is leaking out, TEPCO said.

More than 180 people received mostly minor injuries from the quake, according to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency. The quake also triggered landslides, damaged homes and a high-speed train line, and caused widespread power and water supply disruptions.

TEPCO initially reported that there was no abnormality at the plant from Saturday's quake.

Matsuo said the cooling water level fell as much as 70 centimeters in the primary containment chamber of the Unit 1 reactor and about 30 centimeters in Unit 3. TEPCO wasn't able to determine any decline in Unit 2 because indicators have been taken out to prepare for the removal of melted debris, it said.

Increased leakage could require more cooling water to be pumped into the reactors, which would result in more contaminated water that is treated and stored in huge tanks at the plant. TEPCO says its storage capacity of 1.37 million tons will be full next summer. A government panel's recommendation that it be gradually released into the sea has faced fierce opposition from local residents and a decision is still pending.

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19 Comments
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A government panel's recommendation that it be gradually released into the sea has faced fierce opposition from local residents and a decision is still pending.

We know what the ultimate decision will be. When do they ever listened to what the people who elect them want? They don't even for trivial things like "don't fly aircraft over my head all day long."

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Make the leaks bigger and dump the water in the ocean. It is the only proper thing to do.

-21 ( +0 / -21 )

Oh yeah, Fukushima... how we traveling there? Probably best not to ask.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

Waited until the weekend to 'Leak' the information, when the Mass Media is asleep....convenient!

14 ( +14 / -0 )

I just came with idea, why don't we just put the reactors into the ocean?

It should dilute easily within vast ocean space?

-8 ( +2 / -10 )

It’s been ten years. How long do these things need cooling?

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Fukushima is an example to the world of exactly why we should all transition away from nuclear. Green energy is the future.

4 ( +8 / -4 )

And yet I seem to remember somebody saying that everything was "under control" at the power plant

8 ( +10 / -2 )

Bungle - It’s been ten years. How long do these things need cooling?

Around 500 years.

Even spent fuel rods continue to react and need to be cooled. Tell me again how nuclear power is safe and cheap.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Tokyo Electric Power Co spokesman Keisuke Matsuo said the drop in water levels in the Unit 1 and 3 reactors indicates that the existing damage to their primary containment chambers was worsened by last Saturday's magnitude 7.3 quake, allowing more water to leak.

BS. TEPCO has been leaking waste water on purpose for the past decade -- gradual sweeping under the carpet.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

"It’s been ten years. How long do these things need cooling?"

A very good question! Here is the answer: Ten thousand million OKU billion years...

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

The reactor containment vessels will need water cooling until the melted nuclear fuel can be removed.

The site will remain in a very fragile condition until its demolition.

The high levels of radiation under the reactor plug will make it very difficult to remove the molten fuel.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The eventual costs will be more than ¥80 trillion.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

So their initial statement was that there were no abnormalities, or at least no reports of abnormalities.

Take 2. Radioactive water sloshed out of the cooling pools above the reactors. Not a lot and none escaped to the outside environment.

Take 3. Further damage to the containment vessels indicates increased leakages of radioactive cooling water in Reactors 1 and 3. Nothing reported from Reactor 2 as the measuring instruments have been removed.

Slowly we get to see the picture. Better to know than to be ignorant. I give thanks for this, and for the continuing efforts of the valiant people trying to appease these wounded monsters.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Dump them in the ocean

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Tokyo Electric Power Co spokesman Keisuke Matsuo said the drop in water levels in the Unit 1 and 3 reactors indicates that the existing damage to their primary containment chambers was worsened by last Saturday's magnitude 7.3 quake, allowing more water to leak.

Why are these brazen liars called Tepco still allowed to manage the Fukushima plants. Who in their right senses believes any statement by Tepco. I don't,

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Paul14/dothehustle, the current fleet of reactors around the world use technology adapted from that designed to make weapons grade material, never designed to produce electricity, they are intrinsically unsafe which is why they have to build in safety structures which make them so expensive to construct and run active safety systems and protocols making them expensive to run.

They only “burn” about 5% of the fuel which is why the “spent” fuel rods are so very radioactive.

There are systems designed for non weapons purposes which in fact don’t produce weapons grade materials (why governments weren’t interested) and are intrinsically walk away safe so much cheaper to build and run. Nuclear will have to be part of the future energy mix but we have to make sure the legacy industry doesn’t foist tarted up versions of the old dangerous tech on to us.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

the current fleet of reactors around the world use technology adapted from that designed to make weapons grade material

British AGRs and Canadian CANDUs were designed with commercial electricity generation in mind, hence they are safer. However, they don’t have the US’s military complex behind them so they cost a shed more money. Hooray for Uncle Sam and his rickety BWRs!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Most of us will be long dead before this problem is even half-sorted.

Meanwhile, the Olympics will put a smile throughout Fukushima.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

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