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Power restored to cooling pumps in two Fukushima reactors

A radiation level map of Japan. Click the picture for an updated map

Electricity restored at reactor No. 2

by Masamito and Jun Hongo

Tokyo Electric Power Co. restored electricity to the power center of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant’s No. 2 reactor Sunday afternoon and will attempt to turn on its cooling system and other safety equipment to get the upper hand on the nuclear crisis.

News photo
Stricken: A satellite photo taken Friday shows damage to the buildings that house reactors No. 3 (right) and No. 4 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. KYODO PHOTO/DIGITALGLOBE

Tepco is working round the clock to connect lengthy power cables to the crippled plant, where four of its six reactors have leaked or are continuing to leak radiation.

The March 11 quake and tsunami cut off all power to the reactors, killing critical safety features — most notably the systems that cool the fuel rods in the cores and the spent fuel rods stored in their containment pools — allowing them to get dangerously hot.

The No. 2 reactor is the first of the six to have power restored from outside the plant.

Tepco will first try to turn on the lights in the central control room before moving to power up instruments that measure pressure, temperature and radiation inside the reactor. If successful, the next step will be to turn on the cooling systems.

Also critical is determining whether any equipment was destroyed by the earthquake or seawater.

Strong radiation is making it difficult for workers to stay in the area long enough to connect power cables to reactors 3 and 4, Tepco said.

Meanwhile, reactors 5 and 6 were stable Sunday after cold shutdowns executed at the facilities succeeded after emergency power was restored by generators Saturday, authorities said.

Earlier in the day, firefighters and Self-Defense Forces personnel continued to direct streams of seawater at the buildings housing the No. 3 and 4 reactors, hoping to fill pools containing the overheating spent fuel rods.

In all since Thursday, 2,600 tons of seawater have been shot at the pool in the No. 3 reactor. It’s unknown how much water actually entered the pool, which has a capacity of 1,400 tons. – More here

Headway as Fukushima pumps restart
from theage.com.au

Efforts continue in Fukushima to cool an ailing nuclear power plant.

ENGINEERS have restored power to cooling pumps in two reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the first genuinely hopeful sign in the battle to prevent a meltdown at any of the six reactors.

Although power has so far been restored only at reactor buildings 5 and 6, which were not considered a particular threat, that success suggests workers are finally beginning to make headway in preventing more radiation from escaping.

Japan’s military is also spraying water from fire engines to cool the No.4 reactor, the site of two blazes last week, while pressure in No.3 stabilised as the fight to contain the crisis entered its second week.

The improvement at the No.3 reactor could eliminate the need to vent radioactive steam, Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesman Naoyuki Matsumoto said.

Tokyo Electric said water pumps and controls might still fail to function even with power restored due to damage from the disaster.

Reactors 5 and 6 had been shut down at the time the quake struck on March 11, but spent fuel rods in an upper level of the reactor buildings were still generating heat and required cooling. When electricity was lost and the tsunami damaged back-up generators, the pools holding the fuel rods began to grow warmer.

Officials of Tokyo Electric said temperatures in the No.5 and No.6 pools had begun to fall since the pumps restarted.

Police and military teams were spraying water manually on the other buildings to keep the reactor cores and the spent fuel pools cooled and prevent a meltdown that would release large amounts of radiation. – More here with a video

For maps and information about the earthquakes and tsunami Japan experienced in March 2011 and a chronological time line of those events in March 2011 click here.

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