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Radioactive leak at Takahama No.4

February 21, 2016

Water leakage from Takahama nuclear power plant


Feb. 21, 2016 - Updated 00:19 UTC+1

The operator of Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture has found radioactive water leaking at one of its buildings. The utility says the radiation level is lower than the safety standard and the leakage caused no harm to the environment. The authorities say assessing the situation may delay the planned restart of the reactor.

Kansai Electric Power Company says workers at the Takahama plant's No. 4 reactor were alerted on Saturday by the water leakage alarm at the building adjacent to the reactor.

They found that 8 liters of cooling water containing radioactive substances had leaked and spread on the floor. They also found radioactive water seeping into other equipment in the building. The total amount of leakage was 34 liters. All was removed.

The company says the water that spread on the floor contained 14,000 becquerels of radioactive substances, less than one-200th of what is required to report to the government. The utility also says no one was exposed to the radiation and no abnormally high readings of radiation levels were measured at monitoring posts.

Takahama's No.4 reactor is to restart later this month. The company officials say workers started running water in some of the plumbing right before the alarm went off. The leakage was found where a filter to remove impurities has been installed. But they have not figured out where and how exactly the leakage came about.

The utility will stop some of the preparatory works and start examining the problem with the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Sunday. Authority officials say they need to first assess the status. They added the reactor restart schedule may be affected.

Radioactive water leak near Takahama reactor puts planned restart in doubt



Days before a reactor was to go back online at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, a pool of radioactive water was discovered in a building, possibly delaying the reactivation, the plant operator said Feb. 20.

Kansai Electric Power Co. said 34 liters of contaminated water were discovered in an auxiliary structure of the No. 4 reactor building but is not aware of any environmental impact outside the building as a result.

However, the utility did not rule out the possibility of a delay in the resumption of the No. 4 reactor, planned as early as Feb. 26 if all the preparations went well.

“We cannot say anything about the effect of the leak on the restart definitively at this point since we are looking into the cause,” said a Kansai Electric public relations official.

The pool was found at the facility to treat water used to cool the reactor. Workers at the plant were alerted to the leak when an alarm sounded at 3:42 p.m. on Feb. 20 after they sent water through piping at the facility.

The utility, based in Osaka, reported the incident to the Nuclear Regulation Authority and the prefectural government at 4:55 p.m.

The company said radioactivity of the leaked water was estimated at 60,000 becquerels, below the level that requires operators of a nuclear plant to notify the central government.

After the leak was found, Kansai Electric suspended part of the work to prepare for the restart of the No. 4 reactor.

The company had planned to conduct a test on Feb. 21 to check the reactor’s status by bringing it to a condition similar to actual operation.

Kansai Electric said it remained unknown whether it can proceed with the planned test on Feb. 21. The No. 4 reactor can produce 870 megawatts of power, using plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel.

This year marks the 30th since it began operations.

The No. 3 reactor at the plant, which also uses MOX fuel, is expected to resume commercial operations on Feb. 26 after being restarted in late January.

The No. 3 reactor was the third brought back online under stricter safety regulations drawn up by the NRA after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant disaster in March 2011.

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