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information about Fukushima published in English in Japanese media info publiée en anglais dans la presse japonaise

TEPCO unable to check for possible leaks

November 22, 2016

TEPCO: Leak of radioactive water unlikely at Fukushima plant


Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radioactive water likely did not leak from its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following the morning earthquake that spawned a tsunami on Nov. 22.

TEPCO officials said the company manually shut down equipment that was transferring contaminated water from reactor buildings after the magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture.

The measure was taken because water being transferred could have spilled out if a pipe in the system was fractured in the quake, they said.

“It may be the first time that we suspended a facility of our Fukushima No. 1, Fukushima No. 2 or Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plants due to a quake since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami (in March 2011),” said Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., TEPCO’s in-house organization.

He made the remark at a news conference at the utility’s head office in Tokyo.

Groundwater mixing with contaminated water in damaged reactor buildings has been a serious problem at the plant since the nuclear disaster unfolded in 2011.

“The biggest risk is a tsunami causing contaminated water that has accumulated (in the reactor buildings) to leak and pollute the environment,” said Masuda, explaining why the company halted operations of the water transfer facility.

After the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning at 6:02 a.m., the company ordered workers in lower areas of the plant to evacuate to higher ground. They have been unable to check for possible leaks around the reactor buildings and the turbine buildings near the sea.

“It is a bit inappropriate that we’ve been unable to do so,” Masuda said. “That’s why we suspended the transfer facility. We think that no water will leak now.”

TEPCO also reported that pumps to cool water in the spent nuclear fuel pool at the No. 3 reactor building of the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant shut down after the quake. The company said this was an automatic mechanism that kicked in after the water level changed in the tank that adjusts water conditions in the pool.

“It is a result of the fact that the automatic suspension device worked normally,” Masuda said.

The pumps were later restarted.

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