22 Feb 2021 10:35:12 AM
The cooling water level in two reactors of the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant has sunk since a strong earthquake hit the region last weekend, which indicates possible further damage, the operator said on Friday. Further damage could complicate the already difficult decommissioning process of the plant, which is expected to take decades. Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Keisuke Matsuo said falling water levels in the reactors in Units 1 and 3 suggest that the existing damage to their primary containment chambers was exacerbated by the 7.3 magnitude earthquake on Saturday more water could leak out.
The leaked water is believed to have remained in the reactor buildings and there is no evidence of external influences, he said.
In 2011, a powerful 9.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami damaged the cooling systems at Fukushima Power Plant, melting three reactor cores and dropping nuclear fuel deep into their primary containers.
TEPCO will monitor the water and temperatures at the bottom of the containment, Matsuo said.
Since the disaster of 2011, cooling water from damaged primary containment has continuously entered the cellars of reactor buildings. To make up for the loss, additional cooling water was pumped into the reactors to cool the molten fuel remaining therein. The recent drop in water levels suggests more water is leaking than before, TEPCO said.
According to the Fire and Disaster Management Agency, more than 180 people suffered mostly minor injuries as a result of Saturday’s earthquake. The earthquake also caused landslides, damaged homes and a high-speed rail line, and caused widespread disruption of electricity and water supplies.
TEPCO initially reported that there was no anomaly in the factory after Saturday’s earthquake.
Matsuo said the cooling water level in the primary containment chamber of the Unit 1 reactor has decreased by 70 centimeters and in Unit 3 by about 30 centimeters. TEPCO could not detect any drop in Unit 2 as the indicators were removed in preparation. for the removal of molten debris, he said.
Increased leaks may require more cooling water to be pumped into the reactors, resulting in more contaminated water being processed and stored in huge tanks at the facility. TEPCO says its 1.37 million tonnes storage capacity will be full by next summer. A government group’s recommendation to gradually release him into the sea met with fierce resistance from local residents, and a decision is still pending.
At the same time, the Tokyo Supreme Court on Friday held the government and TEPCO responsible for the 2011 nuclear disaster and ordered the two to seek compensation of around 280 million yen (US $ 2.6 million) to more than 40 evacuated plaintiffs Dollars) to pay Chiba near Tokyo for a living and their lost homes.
Friday’s ruling overturns an earlier Chiba District Court ruling that excludes the government from liability. Judge Yukio Shirai said the government could have predicted the risk of a massive tsunami and taken action in 2002 after a long-term assessment of seismic activity.
Lawyers representing the plaintiffs welcomed the decision, saying it would affect other pending cases.
“The case raises the question of whether we should tolerate a society that prioritizes economic activities over people’s lives and health,” said Izutaro Mangi, an attorney who represents the plaintiffs.
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