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Japan:Fukushima plant chief apologizes over the accident + Related News

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Laaska News  August 17,2011
Radioactivity down to one-fifth of July levels
Cooling stoppage unknown to plant chief

The head of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has apologized for the nuclear accident at his plant.

The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, released footage of workers at the facility on Wednesday, exactly one month after the utility entered stage 2 of its timetable toward ending the nuclear crisis.

The plant chief, Masao Yoshida, apologized to all Japanese people for causing the trouble, and said that with the help from people in Japan and from around the world, his plant has cleared the first stage of the timetable.

Yoshida said efforts are being made to achieve the goals required for the second stage so that evacuees will be able to return home as soon as possible.

Radioactivity down to one-fifth of July levels

The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company say the amount of radioactive material being emitted from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has dropped to one-fifth that of a month ago.

The government and TEPCO said on Wednesday that maximum radiation levels around the plant during the past 2 weeks were 200 million becquerels per hour.

This is one-fifth the levels detected in July, and one-10 millionth the levels in mid-March, shortly after the troubles began at the plant.

The state minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, Goshi Hosono, said the maximum reading of 200 million becquerels is just an estimate because the exact emission levels cannot be accurately measured.
He pledged to seek methods for making precise measurements and for containing radioactivity inside the plant.

The government and TEPCO said there is no major change in their timetable for bringing the plant under control, and that their goal continues to be to achieve cold shutdown of the reactors while processing contaminated wastewater and reducing radioactive emissions.

The government said it will draw up a plan for decontaminating the current evacuation zone by the end of August, and it will launch a model decontamination project early next month.

Experts say that before the government allows residents to return to the evacuation zone, it will be necessary to prevent new leakage of radioactive material, as well as decontaminate material already leaked and dispose of mud and sludge generated by the decontamination process.

Cooling stoppage unknown to plant chief

Government investigators have found that the chief of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant did not know that a backup cooling system for one of the plant’s reactors was manually shut down on March 11th, the day of the quake and tsunami.

The investigators learned that Masao Yoshida was unaware that a worker stopped the system to prevent it from being damaged. The worker told the investigators that the system appeared to be operating at boiling temperature but was not producing steam.

Yoshida reportedly said it was a major error that he and other leaders did not immediately know such important safety information.

The plant’s operator, TEPCO, says a fuel meltdown took place at the reactor 5 hours after the quake, generating large amounts of hydrogen that caused an explosion on the following day.

University of Tokyo Professor Koji Okamoto said the reactor lost all cooling functions due to the stoppage, and that the reactor’s core should have been cooled by all possible means.

Okamoto said the failure of communication may have worsened the situation by delaying orders for water injections and government evacuations of nearby residents.

NHK.

 
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