April 14, 2011
The operator of Japan’s tsunami-flooded nuclear power complex is struggling to pull damaged spent fuel rods out of a storage pool at one of the reactors.
This comes amid concerns over surging radiation and elevated temperatures at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, MSNBC reported Thursday.
Water in the spent fuel storage pool at the Number 4 reactor at the Fukushima plant has risen to about 194 degrees Fahrenheit (90 degrees Celsius), which is a sign that spent fuel rods may be damaged, the report added.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s operator is also installing steel plates and silt screens to help reduce radiation leaks.
Meanwhile, TEPCO has come under fire for using a highly toxic fuel at one of the plant’s reactors.
A new report said the use of the unconventional fuel was to blame for the high levels of radioactive leakage at the crippled plant.
The Mixed-Oxide-Fuel or MOX is by far a more dangerous blend of both uranium and plutonium.
According to the report, the plant’s operators have fought a decade-long battle to obtain a permit for using it.
The fuel was shipped from Belgium in 1999 and had been stored at the plant since then.
The operator Fukushima loaded reactor number 3 with a batch of MOX last August that caused problems at the emergency cooling system of the reactor.
At the time, the operators considered the problems as only a minor glitch. When the massive tsunami hit the plant in March, several of its reactors were severely damaged leading to radioactive leakage.
However, radiation levels were significantly higher around reactor number-3, which scientists say is mainly due to the use of MOX.
Earlier, Japanese officials revised severity rating of the crisis to level 7, the worst possible on an international scale. The only other level 7 was related to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Specialist say there is a risk for some 400,000 people to develop cancer within the 200 kilometer radius of the plant.
Japan has been hit by frequent aftershocks as the Asian country is grappling with the nuclear crisis at Fukushima Daiichi power plant, battered in the massive March 11 quake which triggered a devastating tsunami as well.
This article was posted: Thursday, April 14, 2011 at 4:52 am