Sat, Apr 06, 2013 - Page 5 News List

Fukushima glitch fixed

HASTE:Work to put up nets to keep out rats and other animals at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant caused a power outage, but the problem was fixed within hours

AP and AFP, TOKYO

Power was restored yesterday to a cooling system at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Japan that failed for the second time in a month, after an outage caused by construction work to keep out rats suspected of setting off the earlier blackout.

Power for the cooling system for a storage pool for fuel was restored after a two-hour break at reactor No. 3, and there was no immediate danger from the breakdown, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the utility that operates the plant in northeastern Japan.

Work to put up nets to keep out rats and other animals at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant inadvertently caused the power outage, TEPCO spokesman Akitsuka Kobayashi said.

Details were not clear, and the outage was still under investigation.

A dead rat found near a switchboard at the plant was suspected of the power outage last month that led to a cooling system not working for two days.

Nuclear Regulation Authority spokesman Takahiro Sakuma said that an alarm went off in the afternoon about the latest problem at reactor No. 3.

The cooling system can be turned off for two weeks before temperatures approach dangerous levels at the spent fuel storage pools.

However, if the water runs dry, the fuel rods, even spent ones, will spew enormous levels of radiation.

The plant went into multiple meltdowns after the March 2011 tsunami damaged backup generators and all cooling systems failed, including those for the reactors, causing the worst nuclear crisis in a generation. Reactors spewed radiation over a wide area, forcing tens of thousands of people from their homes and polluting farmland.

Although the natural disaster that spawned the emergency claimed about 19,000 lives, no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the atomic catastrophe.

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