JAPAN | TEPCO again stops key reactor cooling system

Posted on July 15, 2011

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JAPAN | NHK | 15 July 2011

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant continues to struggle in its efforts to stably cool the facility’s reactors. Workers have again halted a key wastewater system after discovering that it was operating below capacity.

Early Friday morning, Tokyo Electric Power Company stopped the system, which decontaminates and recycles radioactive wastewater. The system had resumed operation only a day before to repair a leak.

TEPCO says it found that even after the repair, the system was able to treat only 37 tons of contaminated water per hour, which is 20 percent below target. The company is now inspecting the cause.

TEPCO says the latest shutdown had not led to a rise in fuel rod temperatures, as cooling operations are continuing with water that had previously been decontaminated.

Steady operation of the water treatment system is critical to achieving the company’s goal of having a stable reactor cooling system in place by Sunday. That would mark the end of the first phase of bringing the reactors under control.

Meanwhile, on Thursday night, TEPCO began injecting nitrogen into the No.3 reactor’s containment vessel to prevent a hydrogen explosion.

It says the measure has not led to a rise in radiation levels around the facility.

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Posted in: JAPAN