Quake Halts Clean Up; Tent to Cover Unit 1

Monday, August 15, 2011 @ 07:08 PM gHale

A magnitude-6 earthquake that struck northeastern Japan temporarily stopped the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant’s desalination device, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) officials said.

The device, part of the system to clean up highly radioactive water used to cool damaged reactors at the plant, saw its heat generator run down automatically due to the quake, Japan’s Jiji Press reported.

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TEPCO said it restarted the device about 20 minutes later as it found no abnormalities, Jiji reported.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station has spewed radioactive material since a magnitude-9 quake and tsunami hit the plant March 11.

Friday’s quake hit the region at 3:32 a.m. with its epicenter off Fukushima prefecture at a depth of 50 kilometers, the Meteorological Agency said.

TEPCO also found a decrease in the amount of water injected into a reactor to cool it while another problem was a breakdown of the equipment to adjust the amounts of nitrogen gas injected to reduce the risk of hydrogen explosions, Jiji reported.

TEPCO said they fixed those problems.

Meanwhile, the operator of Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is building a huge tent to cover reactor number 1.

Officials hope the cover will keep leaked radioactive materials from spreading, prevent rainwater seepage and offer a barrier from further leaks.

The tent should provide a temporary replacement for the No. 1 reactor’s outer housing shell, which an explosion destroyed after pressure built up the day after Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

A spokesman for the power utility Koji Watanabe said Friday that construction began this week.

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