Sunday, April 10, 2011

Kyodo News: Crews to pump water in trench to storage area.

 Transfer critical to securing No. 2 reactor.

 Repair crews at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant Sunday prepared to pump highly radioactive water from a trench under the No. 2 reactor to a storage spot secured in its turbine building, the nuclear safety agency said.

                                                                                                       EPA/Franck Robichon
View of a board indicating the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), in Tokyo, Japan, 28 March 2011.

 Toxic water being produced from emergency cooling operations has flooded the basements of the turbine buildings of reactors 1, 2 and 3, as well as trenches connected to them.
 Transferring the 60,000 tons of water to other containment facilities is crucial to restoring their critical cooling systems because its lethal radioactivity is keeping workers at bay.
 The water level in the trench started rising after workers successfully plugged up the area around a cracked pit where it was leaking into the Pacific Ocean, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.
 Hidehiko Nishiyama, a NISA spokesman, said that removing the water from the trench must be done "in haste" because it has been edging up since workers injected "water glass" last week to clog up gravel near the pit.
 "As contaminated water with high concentration (of radioactivity) will be moved, we would like to confirm the safety of the process," Nishiyama said at a morning news conference.
 Also in the morning, a worker in his 30s who installed a hose pipe for the pump work at 9:30 a.m. was taken to a hospital after complaining of feeling sick at around 11:10 a.m.
 The worker is conscious and was found uncontaminated by radioactive materials, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. He was later diagnosed with fatigue, Tepco said.
 The worker, who was wearing a full-face mask, protective outerwear, rubber gloves and high boots, was exposed to 4.84 millisieverts of radiation, which is below the designated limit of 5 millisieverts that was set for Sunday's work, Tepco said.
 The spokesman said the worker, who has not been identified, was one of 30 who had been laying a water exhaust hoses outside the turbine building at the No. 2 reactor.
 The highly contaminated water in No. 2's turbine building and trench has been a big problem because it is believed to be originating from the reactor core, where the fuel rods have partially melted, and poses a danger to anyone who gets near it. The water is expected to be transferred to the turbine building's condenser.
 Condensers normally convert superheated steam created by the reactor back into water. The condenser in No. 2 has a storage capacity of 3,000 tons, and work to empty it of less dangerous water was completed Saturday.
 Workers are also trying to free up a nearby facility used for nuclear waste disposal by continuing to dump the less-contaminated water inside into the ocean. About 8,900 tons of the water had been sucked out of the facility as of Sunday morning, and Tepco planned to finish releasing the remaining 200 tons during the day.
 Tepco also flew a tiny unmanned drone over the plant Sunday to survey damage in places workers were unable to access, Nishiyama said.
 In related news, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Sunday he regrets that Japan failed to provide notification overseas of last week's release of water containing radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean from the power station.
 "We released low-level radioactive water into the sea in a bid to contain higher-level radioactive water. We should have explained that matter more thoroughly," Kan said.


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