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Fukushima Still Dangerous, Unstable 500 Days Later

Common Dreams staff

Workers remove an unused nuclear fuel assembly from the storage pool of the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. (Asahi Shimbun / TEPCO)

Over 500 days have passed since Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster, but efforts to stabilize the Daiichi power plant continue to waiver as workers struggle to overcome a number of issues at the site, a Japanese news source reported Tuesday.

Such daily struggles include dealing with leaking contaminated cooling water, determining the state of the pressure vessels and removing melted nuclear fuel from the reactor cores.

According to the report, in order for the nuclear plant to be considered "out of the woods" plant operators need to solve several problems:

  • A large amount of radiation is still being emitting, mostly from the No. 2 reactor, which is releasing 8 million becquerels of radioactive cesium an hour. The radiation is believed to be coming from a hole at the top floor of the reactor building.
  • Plant operators, TEPCO, are still unable to accurately measure safety levels within the plant's pressure vessels. High temperature and high humidity are threatening vital thermometers within the vessels, and only half of the 36 thermometers on the pressure vessel of the No. 2 reactor are displaying accurate temperatures.
  • Cooling water continues to leak from parts damaged by the accident in the pressure vessels and containment vessels of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors.
  • Water that has been contaminated with radiation from the melted fuel continues to accumulate in the basements of the reactor buildings and neighboring turbine buildings.
  • Operators still remain baffled as to how to remove fuel that has melted, but has remained in the plant -- a highly radioactive scenario. Plans call for beginning that work in 2021 after all other fuel has been removed from the storage pools, but no decision has been made on how to approach the unprecedented task.

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