Fukushima Daiichi is undead
Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was killed in early 2011 and has not produced power since. But it’s turned into a radioactive zombie, wreaking havoc long after its pulse flatlined.
Nuclear rods at the disabled plant must be kept cool to prevent them from triggering another nuclear meltdown. But the building that houses them has been wrecked by explosions and compromised by a rodent. Even pits that hold radioactive water at the site are failing.
Two years after the worst nuclear disaster in a quarter of a century, Tepco is struggling with breakdowns and glitches in its jerry-rigged cooling system to keep reactors and spent fuel pools in a safe state known as cold shutdown.
About 120,000 liters (32,000 gallons) of water contaminated with radiation leaked from two giant pits over the weekend. The cooling system has broken down twice over the past three weeks.
The utility does not have enough sturdy, above-ground tanks it is building to take the water from the pits, a Tepco general manager, Masayuki Ono, said at a news conference at the company’s headquarters.
That story came out on Monday. Within a day, the situation had worsened. From the AP on Tuesday:
The operator of Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant says it has detected a fresh leak of radioactive water from one of the facility’s storage tanks.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. previously said that two of seven underground tanks at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had been leaking since Saturday.
TEPCO said Tuesday that the latest leak involves a tank that was being used to take water from one of the two that were leaking. It said none of the radioactive water was believed to have reached the ocean.
Putting down this zombie might take more than a bullet in its brain. But we should probably start with that.
John Upton is a science aficionado and green news junkie who
, posts articles to
. He welcomes reader questions, tips, and incoherent rants:
Also in Grist