Fukushima Reactors Heating Up Again … Water Fails to Cool Them Down
Attempts to cool the temperature in the No. 2 reactor of the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have only partially succeeded despite the injection of more cooling water.
The temperature in the reactor has gradually risen from about 45 degrees Celsius registered on January 27th.
In the past 4 days, the temperature has climbed more than 20 degrees to above 70 degrees.
The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company began pumping more water into the reactor at around 1:30 AM on Monday. But at 7 AM, the temperature stood at 73.3 degrees and at 5 PM, 69.2 degrees.
The utility firm says 2 other thermometers elsewhere in the reactor gave readings of about 44 degrees.
TEPCO says the rise in temperatures indicate that the flow of water in the reactor may have changed direction after plumbing work, and is no longer able to properly cool down the melted down nuclear fuel.
However, the utility says radioactive xenon has not been detected in gases around the reactor, and that nuclear criticality is not taking place.
The government and TEPCO announced in December that the 3 troubled reactors at the Fukushima plant had reached a state of cold shutdown with their temperatures below 100 degrees. But the situation inside the reactors remains unclear.
New regulations established after the state of cold shutdown was achieved require the utility to keep temperatures inside the reactors below 80 degrees.
TEPCO says it will increase the amount of water being injecting into the reactor to see if the temperature in the reactor drops.
The government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says there is a need for a comprehensive study to determine whether the reactor is actually in a state of cold shutdown. It says a brief reading of over 80 degrees on one of the thermometers does not necessarily mean there is trouble in the cooling system.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission, Haruki Madarame, says that a recurrence of nuclear criticality is unlikely.
But he criticized TEPCO and the nuclear safety agency for their handling of the matter. He says they are failing to properly explain the state of the reactors to the people.
Monday, February 06, 2012 20:48 0900 (JST)