TEPCO – clean up efforts slowed

Stagnant water, debris, aftershocks mar nuclear crisis road map

This Monday, April 11, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., shows the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

This Monday, April 11, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., shows the tsunami-stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Just over a week has passed since Tokyo Electric Power Co. released its road map for bringing the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant under control.

Efforts are under way to stabilize overheated nuclear fuel rods and keep water temperatures in reactors in check but new challenges have emerged such as dealing with a large volume of contaminated water found inside the No. 4 reactor building. Rubble containing radioactive materials and a series of aftershocks following the March 11 massive earthquake have also been hampering work.

The road map, announced April 17, lists three areas that need to be tackled immediately — bringing the reactors and spent fuel pools to a stable cooling condition, mitigating the releases of water and air containing radioactive materials from the power station, and monitoring radiation levels in areas around the power station.

Of the three, mitigation of radioactive releases is essential for containing an adverse environmental impact in areas around the plant as well as making it safe for workers to engage in other operations.

Priority has been placed on the handling of highly contaminated water around the turbine building of the No. 2 reactor. On April 19, work was initiated to pump contaminated water to the radioactive waste treatment facilities, to reduce the risk of it being released to the sea through a trench.

In this April 21, 2011 image from a video footage taken by T-Hawk drone aircraft and released, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the aerial image shows north side of the damaged reactor building of Unit 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

In this April 21, 2011 image from a video footage taken by T-Hawk drone aircraft and released, Wednesday, April 27, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the aerial image shows north side of the damaged reactor building of Unit 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

The plan calls for the work to be completed around Tuesday. As of Monday, however, no major falls had been observed in contaminated water levels around the No. 2 reactor.

At the No. 2 reactor building, a large volume of water has also been pumped into the reactor and other areas for cooling. This operation could be a factor preventing water levels from dropping. But TEPCO says that at this moment even if that is the case, nothing can be done about the situation.

TEPCO, however, is planning to increase the number of pumps to eject water. If the stalled situation is protracted, another arrangement may have to be worked out.

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One Response to “TEPCO – clean up efforts slowed”
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