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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Japan Widens Evacuations Outside Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Zone

Japan on Sunday started the first evacuations of homes outside a government exclusion zone after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled one of the country’s nuclear power plants. Some 4,000 residents of Iidate-mura village as well as 1,100 people in Kawamata-cho town, in the quake-hit northeast, began the phased relocations to public housing, hotels and other facilities in nearby cities. Their communities are outside the 20-kilometre radius from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, officially designated as an area of forced evacuation due to health risks from the radiation seeping from the ageing and damaged plant.

The government told people in communities such as Iidate-mura they had to leave, but authorities are unlikely to punish those who choose to stay.

"I am sure all of you have lived in Iidate-mura all your life and never moved," mayor Norio Kanno told a group of residents preparing to leave their homes.

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Japan: TEPCO developing device to decontaminate seawater near nuclear plant

The operator of a damaged nuclear plant in north-eastern Japan, is developing a device to eliminate radioactive substances from seawater, a report said Wednesday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), which runs the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, said the company hoped to place the device in the Pacific Ocean near the plant at the end of May, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Since the plant was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, it has leaked radioactive materials into the air and sea.

The operator said it planned to pump contaminated seawater through a metal container filled with zeolite, a mineral that absorbs radioactive materials.

High levels of radiation were measured in the waters around the plant as TEPCO detected 5,800 times the legal limit of radioactive iodine in seawater samples collected near reactor number 2.

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TEPCO says water may be leaking from Fukushima spent fuel pool

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says water may be leaking from the spent fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor. More than 1,500 spent fuel rods are stored in the pool, the largest number at the site.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has been injecting water daily into the pool to make up for the loss of cooling function and prevent the fuel rods from being exposed and further damaged. The company found that water levels in the pool were 10 to 40 centimeters lower than expected despite the water injections.

TEPCO has poured in 140 to 210 tons of water over each of the last few days.

The walls of the reactor building supporting the pool were severely damaged by a hydrogen explosion last month. TEPCO says the pool may have been damaged by the blast as well.

According to a schedule announced earlier on containing the ongoing emergency, TEPCO plans to install concrete pillars to support the fuel pool by around July to increase its earthquake resistance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 09:05 +0900 JST Copyright NHK Japan Broadcasting Corporation


Shiitake coming from East Fukushima banned by Japan’s Government

Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Wednesday banned the shipment of shiitake raised outdoors in eastern Fukushima Prefecture near the crippled nuclear power plant after radioactive substances exceeding government standard were detected.

Subject to the ban are shiitake harvested outdoors on logs in the cities of Date, Soma, Minamisoma, Tamura, Iwaki, and the towns of Shinchi, Kawamata, Namie, Futaba, Okuma, Tomioka, Naraha, Hirono as well as the villages of Iitate, Katsurao and Kawauchi.

"Shiitake mushrooms subject to the shipment ban this time are those raised outdoors and those produced indoors did not exceed the standard," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. "We will lift the ban when the (level of radioactive substances) stays below the standard in a stable manner."

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Japan Focuses on Hydrogen Buildups at Nuke Plant

Japan pumped nitrogen gas into a crippled nuclear reactor on Thursday, trying to prevent an explosive buildup of hydrogen gas as the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 25 years stirred atomic safety debate and inspections in the United States.

Engineers worked through the night injecting nitrogen into the containment vessel of reactor No.1 at Fukushima Daiichi power plant, following success in stopping highly radioactive water leaking into the sea at another reactor in the complex.

"It is necessary to inject nitrogen gas into the containment vessel and eliminate the potential for a hydrogen explosion," an official of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) told a news briefing.

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Japan nuke plant purposely dumps radioactive water into sea

Workers began pumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water from Japan’s tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, freeing storage space for even more highly radioactive water that has hampered efforts to stabilize the reactors.

It will take about two days to pump most of the less-radioactive water out of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, whose cooling systems were knocked out by the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

Radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials said the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area.

Since the disaster, water with different levels of radioactivity has been pooling throughout the plant. People who live within 12 miles (20 kilometers) have been evacuated and have not been allowed to return.

The pooling water has damaged systems and the radiation hazard has prevented workers from getting close enough to power up cooling systems needed to stabilize dangerously vulnerable fuel rods.

On Saturday, they discovered that some radioactive water was pouring into the ocean.

The less-radioactive water that officials are purposely dumping into the sea is up to 500 times the legal limit for radiation.

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Japan Nuclear Crisis: Engineers Think They’ve Found the Radiation Leak Source – an 8″ crack…

07:50 JST April 4: Engineers pinned their hopes on chemicals, sawdust and shredded newspaper to stop highly radioactive water pouring into the ocean from Japan’s tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant Sunday as officials said it will take several months to bring the crisis under control, the first time they have provided a timetable.

Concrete already failed to stop the tainted water spewing from a crack in a maintenance pit, and the new mixture did not appear to be working either, but engineers said they were not abandoning it.

The government said Sunday it will be several months before the radiation stops and permanent cooling systems are restored. Even after that happens, there will be years of work ahead to clean up the area around the complex and figure out what to do with it.

On Saturday, workers discovered an 8-inch (20-centimeter) crack in a maintenance pit at the plant and said they believe water from it may be the source of some of the high levels of radioactive iodine that have been found in the ocean for more than a week.

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Japan battles to stop radiation leak into sea

While cherry blossoms opened in Tokyo, temperatures plunged again, leaving tens of thousands of homeless shuddering in evacuation camps along the ravaged northeast coast of Japan’s main Honshu island.

No quick end was in sight for the world’s worst nuclear emergency since Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster of 1986, warned a government lawmaker who has advised Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the crisis at the six-reactor plant.

“This is going to be a long battle,” said Goshi Hosono, who highlighted the threat of 4.5 metre (15 foot) long spent fuel rods that remain volatile for months and need to be cooled in pools with circulating water.

“The biggest challenge at this plant is that there are more than 10,000 spent fuel rods,” Hosono said on Fuji TV. “It will take a very long time to reprocess them, and we sincerely apologise for that.

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Low Levels of Radiation Found in American Milk

Tests of milk samples taken last week in Spokane, Wash., indicate the presence of radioactive iodine from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, but at levels far below those at which action would have to be taken, the Environmental Protection Agency said on Wednesday.

Radioactive materials in liquids are measured in pico-curies per liter, and the sample, taken March 25, showed a reading of 0.8 pico-curies, the agency said. Those numbers, it said, would have to be 5,000 times higher to reach the “intervention level” set by the Food and Drug Administration.

“These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children,” the environmental agency said

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