For the first time in more than a week, outside power illuminated the control room Tuesday at unit 3 of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where operators have struggled with overheating in reactors and spent fuel pools since an earthquake hit the country March 11.
Plant Owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported Tuesday that power lines have been connected to all six reactor units at the plant, according to Kyodo News. Crews also have been checking systems and replacing damaged equipment before reintroducing power to the reactors. While a photo released by TEPCO showed technicians in the now-lighted unit 3 control room, crews were still working to bring instruments and equipment back online.
While workers continued to pump seawater into reactors at units 1 though 3 to control core temperatures, efforts also continued to cool spent fuel tanks that were left without recirculation systems for days. In addition to spraying by fire trucks and a U.S. military vehicle, a concrete pump truck was brought to the plant and sprayed an estimated 50 tons of water per hour for three hours into unit 4 Tuesday, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Despite smoke or steam rising from two of the reactors on Monday, officials reported radiation levels had not risen considerably within the plant grounds Tuesday. Crews on Wednesday had to stop work at unit 2 after radiation levels at 500 millisieverts per hour were detected, according to Kyodo. In the last two days, testing has detected radioactive iodine and cesium near outlets that discharge water into the sea, although Japanese regulators have said they are at levels that do not pose a health threat.
More contaminated vegetables also were reported Tuesday, with the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry advising people not to eat 11 types of vegetables grown in the prefecture surrounding the nuclear plant. According to Kyodo, testing by the ministry found levels of cesium at 82,000 becquerels, which is 164 times the legal limit. It also detected radioactive iodine at 15,000 becquerels, which is seven times the legal limit.
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The lights are on, but is anyone home?
The levels of radioactivity around the Fukushima nuclear plant will be a long term problem. The nuclear accident will make it difficult for the nuclear industry. I say Nuclear power has lost its attractiveness for a long time.