Japan news, april 7.tepco: nitrogen injection going well

TEPCO: Nitrogen injection going well
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it continues to inject nitrogen gas into the containment vessel of the No.1 reactor without problems. The nitrogen gas is being used to prevent a hydrogen blast at the reactor.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says that as of 6 AM Thursday pressure inside the containment vessel of the No.1 reactor had risen only slightly and that this indicates the operation is going well. The gas injection began at 1:30 AM Thursday.

Fuel rods inside the No.1 reactor are nearly half exposed because coolant water levels remain low. It is thought that the overheated fuel rods have caused a buildup of the volatile mix of hydrogen and oxygen. It is hoped the chemically stable nitrogen will counteract this buildup.

TEPCO says it plans to continue the injection for about 6 days and will also consider taking similar measures at the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

Regarding another problem, TEPCO said the pool of highly contaminated water in the underground tunnel connected to the No. 2 reactor rose 5 centimeters in the 24 hours leading up to 7 AM Thursday.

TEPCO says the rise is probably related to stopping the leakage of highly radioactive water from a concrete pit of the No. 2 reactor with the use of a hardening agent on Wednesday.

The company says there is still one meter of room to ground level, but will keep a close watch on the situation because an overflow would seriously hamper the already difficult restoration work.

TEPCO is also continuing the release of 8,000 tons of low-level radioactive wastewater from the plant to make storage space for more highly contaminated water. Around 6,000 tons have been discharged so far.
Thursday, April 07, 2011 12:09 +0900 (JST)