Tokyo Electric Power Co. has asked for more financial assistance from the Japanese government, while a radiation study of Fukushima Prefecture breastmilk samples offered encouraging results and plant workers investigated smoke coming from an electrical system.

Recent developments at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant severely damaged following last year's earthquake and tsunami in Japan include:

TEPCO Reports Cost Estimates May Double

TEPCO has asked the Japanese government for a new management plan to accommodate compensation and cleanup costs that the utility projects will be double earlier estimates. TEPCO now expects it will need 10 trillion yen ($125 billion) to cope with the accidents, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported, and the utility asked the government for a new framework to share that cost. The Japanese government became the company's largest shareholder after the first management plan was put in place in the spring.

Cables damaged at Fukushima Daiichi Nov. 2. Source: TEPCONo Cesium Detected in Breastmilk

On Monday, the Fukushima prefectural government reported that breastmilk samples collected in the prefecture did not show signs of cesium. Among the samples from 378 mothers participating through October, none showed cesium levels above the detection limit of 2 becquerels per kilogram, the Asahi Shimbun reported. Fewer women offered to participate in the study than anticipated. The prefecture had set aside 100 million yen ($1.25 million) for breastmilk testing, which would accommodate about 10,000 mothers.

Nitrogen Injection Paused as Smoking Power Cables Investigated

Workers at Fukushima responded to an alarm Nov. 2 indicating a ground fault in a cable connecting power panels near one of the plant's off-site grid connections. According to a TEPCO release, smoke could be seen coming from a portion of the cable "damaged during operation as a result of site investigation."  Power to the cable was shut off at 10:49 a.m., which also caused the nitrogen injection system at unit 1 to shut off. The smoking then stopped, and first responders later confirmed there was no fire. Power returned to all equipment connected to the panels within 35 minutes, and no other problems were found, TEPCO said.

Photo: A TEPCO worker stands beside a section of cable housing where smoke was reported. Source: TEPCO