Japanese workers restart to pump seawater into nuke reactor unit

10:10, March 15, 2011      

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Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday that workers at the troubled nuclear reactor in Fukushima has restarted to pump seawater into the reactor unit for a cool- down.

The injection of seawater began early Tuesday morning to the reactor unit at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after a steam vent of the pressure container was opened, Kyodo News Agency quoted Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) as reporting.

The TEPCO said Monday that fuel rods were fully exposed again in the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant as of 11 p.m. local time.

Air pressure inside the reactor rose suddenly when the air flow gauge was accidentally turned off, operator TEPCO said, adding that this blocked the flow of cooling water into the reactor, leading to full exposure of the rods.

The nuclear plants shut down automatically due to Friday's massive earthquake, but the shortage of power and tsunami damage to back-up generators apparently crippled reactors' cooling systems.

Explosions created by "hydrogen bubble" blew apart the buildings housing the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, but did not pierce the reactors' steel and concrete containment vessel.

Earlier Monday morning, Kyodo News Agency reported that the radiation level around the Fukushima plant has again exceeded the legal limit, but chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said Monday that radiation was at a tolerable level for humans.

Earlier, Japan has reportedly asked the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to provide experts in the wake of a series of incidents at the nuclear power plant.

Source: Xinhua

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