Japanese TEPCO to stick with original nuke shutdown plan, despite problems

10:32, May 18, 2011      

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Sakae Muto (R), Vice President of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Inc. (TEPCO) attends a press conference in Tokyo, Japan, May 17, 2011. TEPCO unveiled new plans to contain the nuclear crisis on Tuesday. (Xinhua/Kenichiro Seki)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said Tuesday that despite the damage at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant being far more extensive than previously thought at three of the complex's faulty reactors, it would adhere to its previous roadmap of six-to-nine-month to bring the nuclear crisis to an end.

"As for the timetable of achieving the objectives, there are various kinds of uncertain elements and risks, but there is no change in the following target announced previously," TEPCO officials said in a press briefing on Tuesday, in an update to its original plan.

TEPCO last week voided original plans to flood the No. 1 containment chamber, which surrounds the reactor vessel, to prevent the fuel from overheating in a process that would have been known as water entombment.

The move came after the utility discovered that due to surprising low levels of water, nuclear fuel rods had been fully exposed in a reactor at the crippled No. 1 Fukushima nuclear power plan and melted fuel has dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel

TEPCO said a large amount of nuclear fuel is likely to have melted after being fully exposed and that virtually all of the nuclear fuel at the Nos. 1-3 units appeared to have melted in the early stages of the nuclear crisis after the earthquake and tsunami disrupted the cooling systems.

Prior to this finding, TEPCO said in mid-April that it hoped to stabilize the plant within six to nine months, but the Asia's largest utility firm confirmed Tuesday the time line would not change.

Also on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the government would accept an investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency into a series of accidents that have occurred at the plant and sparked domestic and international controversy.

"We have strived to ensure the utmost transparency for the international community over the accidents," Edano told a news conference.

"Accepting the investigative team is part of this effort. Sharing our country's experience with others will be useful," the top government spokesperson said.

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Source: Xinhua
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