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Some slightly better news on Fukushima radiation

Tepco: radiation from Fukushima plant declines further, By Shinichi Saoshiro TOKYO Oct 17 (Reuters) – The operator of Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant on Monday said the amount of radiation being emitted from the complex has halved from a month ago, in the latest sign that efforts to bring the plant under control are progressing..…Our latest measurements show that radiation from the damaged reactors is 100 million becquerels per hour, which is one eight-millionth of the amount measured soon after the accident,” Tokyo Electric Power’s (Tepco) vice president Zengo Aizawa told reporters during a monthly review….

The amount is half of what Tepco announced at its review a month ago.

n light of the progress being made in cooling its damaged reactors, which suffered nuclear fuel meltdowns in the first days of the crisis, Tepco formally brought forward its plan to bring the plant to a state of “cold shutdown” within this year, instead of by January as initially planned.

It had said last month it was hoping to achieve a cold shutdown within the year but had not made a formal declaration.

Technically, a cold shutdown is a state in which water used to cool nuclear fuel rods remains below 100 degrees Celsius, preventing the fuel from reheating.

With the help of newly built cooling systems, Tepco’s efforts to cool the reactors have progressed steadily, with temperatures at all three of the damaged reactors falling below 100 degrees late in September.

But despite this development, Tepco and the government have been cautious about immediately declaring a cold shutdown….

Declaring a cold shutdown will have repercussions well beyond the plant as it is one of the criteria the government said must be met before it begins allowing about 80,000 residents evacuated from within a 20 km (12 mile) radius of the plant to go home.

Japan faces a massive cleanup task if these residents are to be returned home — the environmental ministry says about 2,400 square km (930 square miles) of land surrounding Daiichi may need decontamination, an area roughly the size of Luxembourg.

Even if a cold shutdown is declared Tepco has acknowledged that it may not be able to remove the fuel from the reactors for another 10 years and that the cleanup at the plant could take several decades.

It also has to decontaminate tens of thousands of tonnes of contaminated water pooled at the plant, a result of its efforts to cool the reactors early in the crisis by pumping in vast amounts of water, much of it from the ocean.


October 18, 2011 - Posted by | - Fukushima 2011

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