Officials detected a radioactive gas associated with nuclear fission at Japan’s tsunami-damaged atomic power plant Wednesday, indicating there could be a new problem at one of its reactors. They injected a substance that neutralizes nuclear reactions as a precaution.
Gas from inside the reactor indicated the presence of radioactive xenon, which could be the byproduct of unexpected nuclear fission. Boric acid was being injected through a cooling pipe as a countermeasure because it can counteract nuclear reactions.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said there was no rise in the reactor’s temperature, pressure or radiation levels. The company said the radioactive materials inside the reactor had not reached criticality — the point when nuclear reactions are self-sustaining — and the detection of the xenon would have no major impact on their efforts to keep the reactor cool and stable.
Read the rest of the story: Radioactive gas associated with fission detected, possibly sign of new trouble at Japan plant.
Japan’s efforts to contain the damage at its crippled nuclear plant suffered an unexpected setback on Sunday when pressure began rising again at the most troubled reactor, requiring the release of more radioactive gases into the air.
Nuclear regulators said that Reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, some 170 miles north of Tokyo, had experienced a rise in pressure even though military and civilian firefighters had doused it with 2,400 tons of seawater for nearly 14 hours through early Sunday. The government had said on Saturday that the reactor, which contains a highly toxic fuel that includes reclaimed plutonium, appeared to be stabilizing.
In a news conference Sunday afternoon, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said that overheating inside the reactor’s containment vessel would require the venting of gases to prevent a bigger buildup.
The problem is certain to delay efforts by the Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Self-Defense Forces to restore power to the reactor’s cooling system.
Read the rest of the story: Pressure Forces New Release of Gas From Japanese Nuclear Plant.