Japan finds more water leaks at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japan’s stricken nuclear power plant has leaked more than 600 litres of water, forcing it to briefly suspend cooling operations at a spent-fuel pond at the weekend, but none is thought to have escaped into the ocean, the plant’s operator and domestic media said.

The Fukushima plant, on the coast north of Tokyo, was wrecked by a huge earthquake and tsunami in March last year, triggering the evacuation of around 80,000 people in the world’s worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

The operator of the complex, the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), reported two main leakages on its Web site yesterday, one from a pump near the plant’s office building and another from a back-up cooling system at reactor No.4.

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Tepco told to revise Fukushima road map

The government on Wednesday ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co. to create by the end of the year a new schedule for scrapping the crippled nuclear reactors at the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 power complex, as the plant nears a cold shutdown.

It also ordered the utility to start removing the plant’s spent nuclear fuel within two years — a year earlier than the initial plan — so that workers can focus on tackling the more difficult task of extracting melted fuel from the reactors as early as possible, nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono said.

Although the work is expected to place an additional financial burden on the beleaguered company, Hosono and industry minister Yukio Edano both stressed the government would make sure the company’s financial condition does not delay progress toward scrapping the plant, although they did not elaborate.

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Japan May Expand Nuclear Emergency Zones

The area required to take precautions in case of accidents at a nuclear power plant in Japan would more than triple under a proposal.

The proposal from a working group of the Nuclear Safety Commission calls for expanding the area from about 5 to 6 miles to more than 18 miles, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

The enlarged area would also more than triple the number of municipalities required to take precautions from 44 to 135 and include major urban areas such as Mito and Kyoto’s Sakyo Ward.

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Fukushima leader blasts nuclear waste plan to distribute radioactive waste across the whole country

A key business leader has lashed out at a government plan to construct an interim storage facility for radioactive waste in Fukushima Prefecture, site of an ongoing nuclear crisis, rather than in Tokyo.

Toshio Seya, a former banker and head of the Fukushima Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asked during a regular news conference on Aug. 30: "Why doesn’t the government build (the proposed facility to store radioactive waste) in Tokyo’s Odaiba district? After all, the beneficiary of nuclear power is Tokyo."

Seya was clearly caught off-guard by the decision made by the Kan administration in its waning days.

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Japan to Spend $2.9 Billion to Clean Up Tepco Radiation Leaks

Japan will allocate 220 billion yen ($2.87 billion) to clean up in areas contaminated by radiation spewed from Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima Dai- Ichi nuclear plant, Kyodo News reported.

The government aims to reduce the level of radiation exposure to less than 1 millisievert per year soon, Kyodo News reported yesterday, citing Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who said yesterday he’s stepping down from office, will visit Fukushima today to explain the government’s decontamination plans for the region, according to a separate Kyodo report.

The meltdown of the nuclear plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami forced thousands of Fukushima prefecture residents to evacuate. Prolonged exposure to radiation in the air, ground and food may cause leukemia and other cancers, according to the London-based World Nuclear Association.

Read the rest of the story: Japan to Spend $2.9 Billion to Clean Up Tepco Radiation Spills, Kyodo Says.

Japan cuts radiation limits for kids

Japan’s Education Ministry has decreased radiation exposure limits for all school children across the country to below one millisievert per year.

The ministry announced on Friday that the new instructions comprise all schools including those in Fukushima where high levels of radiation were released after the nuclear plant crisis, AFP reported.

Following the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami which caused radioactive leakage at Fukushima nuclear power plant, Japanese authorities took measures to reduce nuclear exposure in the area and increased exposure limits from one to 20 millisieverts per year.

Protests were mounted in April after the Education Ministry set a radiation exposure limit of 20 millisieverts per year for children, the same dosage the International Commission on radiation Protection recommends for nuclear plant workers.

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Nuclear Crisis in Japan Causes Costly Shift to Fossil Fuels

The half-century-old, oil-fueled power generators here had been idle for more than a year when, a day after the nuclear accident in March, orders came from Tokyo Electric Power headquarters to fire them up.

“They asked me how long it would take,” said Masatake Koseki, head of the Yokosuka plant, which is 40 miles south of Tokyo and run by Tokyo Electric. “The facilities are old, so I told them six months. But they said, ‘No, you must ready them by summer to prepare for an energy shortage.’

Now, at summer’s peak, Yokosuka’s two fuel-oil and two gas turbines are cranking out a total of 900,000 kilowatts of electricity a day — and an abundance of fumes.

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Giant tent being built to cover crippled Japan nuclear reactor, keep radioactive material in

The operator of Japan’s damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is building a huge tent to cover one of the worst-hit reactors, officials said Friday.

Officials hope the cover will keep radioactive materials that have already leaked from spreading, prevent rainwater seepage and offer a barrier from possible leaks or blasts in the future.

The tent is being erected to provide a temporary replacement for the No. 1 reactor’s outer housing shell, which was destroyed in an explosion caused by high pressure the day after Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

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Japan denies censorship of nuclear crisis

Japan on Friday denied that a government project to monitor online news reports and Twitter posts about the Fukushima nuclear crisis was an attempt to censor negative information and views.

Some Western online reports have charged that Japan had passed a law with the intent of "cleansing" the Internet of negative reports and commentary about the accident at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant.

Chikako Ogami, a spokeswoman at the energy agency of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), told AFP: "Our government will never censor information at all. These are erroneous news reports."

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TEPCO to keep paying as Japan nuclear compensation bill passes

A lower house committee of Japans parliament on Tuesday passed a bill to help Tokyo Electric Power pay billions of dollars in compensation to those hurt by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, ensuring a law will soon be in place to guarantee the utilitys survival and get aid to victims.The bill, now set for passage in a lower house plenary session as early as this week and to go into law soon thereafter, will establish a fund backed by taxpayer money and contributions from other utilities to handle compensation, which analysts have estimated could cost up to $130 billion.But the bill, a product of more than a month of wrangling between ruling party and opposition lawmakers following the initial announcement of a draft in May, leaves several key issues unresolved.

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