– Fukushima: Robots Detect Radiation Levels Of Up To 1,120 Millisieverts Per Hour Inside Reactor Building No.1
Japan Nuclear Operator Postpones Plan To Flood Reactor Vessel
TOKYO (Dow Jones)–A plan to flood the containment vessel of one of the reactors at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex to better cool off its nuclear core was postponed Thursday, as concerns about possible leakage in the vessel made workers cautious about filling it with tens of thousands of tons of water.
Meanwhile, Japanese Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda announced a plan to establish an expert panel to draw up the government’s new energy policy, as the continued shut-down of two nuclear plants operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) has caused power shortages across eastern Japan, with crippling effects on the manufacturing industry. The panel is expected to hold the first meeting in early May.
A test run for an operation to flood Reactor No.1’s containment vessel began Wednesday morning in a strategy designed to cool down the pressure vessel, the thick steel cylinder housing nuclear fuel.
The move follows the failure by workers to cool down the fuel effectively, as water leaks out of the vessel apparently through damaged parts. Tepco believes that the fuel, which needs to be submerged in water, is actually partially exposed and estimates that 55% of it could be damaged and is releasing radioactive materials into the water.
The flooding operation is aimed at submerging the entire pressure vessel, instead of just the fuel, by injecting a large amount of water into the pressure vessel, allowing water to overflow into the containment vessel, the beaker-shaped metal container that surrounds the pressure vessel.
The trial run saw a more-than-anticipated drop in the temperature and the pressure inside the reactor, raising the possibility that adding water could deflate the containment vessel too much, allow the atmosphere to enter, and spark a hydrogen-oxygen explosion similar to ones that hit the plant in the first week of the crisis in March.
Officials also had lingering concerns about possible (???) leakage in the containment vessel. “The possibility of leakage cannot be ruled out,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman of the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said in a news briefing Thursday.
Read moreTEPCO Halts Flooding Of Reactor No. 1 After Causing Drop In Pressure That Could ‘Spark A Hydrogen-Oxygen Explosion’