Japan: Fat lady crying at Fukushima-Telegraph
February 11, 2012
Rising temperatures trigger concern at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant
Water temperatures at Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant have risen more than 20 degrees Celsius over the past week.
The Telegraph: February 7, 2012
Concerns are growing in relation to conditions at the plant, in northeast Japan, which was declared in a state of cold shutdown in December last year.
Temperatures at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor have climbed to over 70 degrees Celsius, marking a rise of more than 20 degrees since the start of February.
Boric acid has been injected into the reactor by workers of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), operators of the plant, in order to prevent an accidental chain reaction.
The rate of cooling water injected into the unit was also increased as part of the plant workers’ attempts to stem the surge in temperatures in the reactor.
The government declared that the power plant was in a state of cold shutdown on December 16, nine months after a major earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis.
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Current temperatures remain lower than the 93 degree limit that is used to define cold shutdown at a nuclear reactor, although experts warned that further problems remained likely.
“It was too early to say the plant is safe in December,” Tetsuo Ito, the head of the Atomic Energy Research Institute at Kinki University in western Japan, told Bloomberg. “A similar incident will probably occur again.”
The temperature problems coincided with reports that the government is aiming to restart the first two nuclear reactors since last year’s nuclear crisis as early as April.
Two reactors at the Ohi plant in Fukui prefecture, western Japan, are expected to become the first to be restarted, shortly before the last active reactor in Japan is shut down for maintenance in late April, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.
However, Yukio Edano, the trade minister, said that there would be no deadline for restarting reactors, in a reflection of the public sensitivity surrounding the issue, according to Reuters.
“The only standard is whether we can gain a certain level of understanding from the locals and the public,” he said.