TEPCO Starts Removal Work Of Cover Over Damaged Fukushima Reactor BuildingBy Robert Myles / allvoices.com / October 28, 2014 / A violent gust of wind, Tuesday, indirectly caused a further problem in the shape of a major hole in the cover protecting number one reactor at the stricken Fukushima Nuclear Plant in Japan, according to Fukushima operator, the Tokyo Electric Power.

The incident occurred as a result of strong winds when a crane was in motion. A hole about 30 centimeters (1 foot) square had been made in the protective cover to allow access for work to be carried out.

But a sudden gust of wind caused the gear movement at the end of the crane to move unexpectedly. That resulted in the in the access hold being torn and enlarged by between one and two meters.

A Tokyo Electric Power  representative told AFP that despite the damage, “Measurements of radiation from dust and other materials at the site showed no change.”

Number one reactor is one of three reactors at the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Plant to have suffered a meltdown after being hit by a tsunami inbound from the Pacific in March 2011. The tsunami was caused by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake far out in the ocean.

The resultant 43 feet high wall of water smashed into the Fukushima nuclear power plant north of Tokyo, knocking out the nuclear plant’s main power supply and destroying back-up generators.

The power supply failure triggered a meltdown of three of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant, the consequences of which will last generations.

Tuesday’s incident happened as light winds recorded at 4 miles per hour were blowing around the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The light breeze was insufficiently strong to halt repair work at the reactors.

But a sudden gust around 8.30 a.m. caught workers unawares. Number one reactor was covered over by a temporary roof in October 2011, however, this temporary cover requires to be removed to allow access for debris the extraction of an estimated 500 spent nuclear fuel assemblies that remain remained in the spent fuel pool.

Dismantling of the temporary cover is tricky since in the absence of special provisions, there’s a serious risk of an escape of radioactive substances. Stage one of these removal procedures, now underway, involves minimizing emissions by injecting a substance to secure the radioactive dust remaining in the plant and stop it blowing away. It’s that type of work that was taking place, Tuesday, when the accident happened.

The Oct. 28 problem at Fukushima throws into sharp focus concerns that a super-typhoon could wreak havoc to efforts to ensure there are no further escapes of radioactive material, whether in the form of dust or contaminated water from the Japanese plant.

Such concerns were recently highlighted by Michael Maqua, a nuclear expert at German-based organization GRS that specializes in the fields of nuclear safety and radioactive waste management.

Interviewed by Deutsche Welle concerning threats to Fukushima, specifically in relation to typhoons, Marqua warned of the possibility of radioactive isotopes from contaminated surfaces being washed away and transported into the groundwater or the sea.

He went on to explain that high rainfall could mean, “Rainwater could seep into the reactor buildings where it might mingle with contaminated water thus increasing the total amount of contaminated water on the site.”

To date,  Tokyo Electric Power has struggled to accommodate the ever growing volumes of contaminated water stored at the Fukushima site.

That Oct. 28’s incident happened when a light breeze was blowing once again underlines the danger violent storms could pose to efforts to ensure Fukushima ceases to pose a threat, not just to Japan, but to other nations that might be touched by radioactive contamination from the wrecked nuclear plant.

SOURCE: All Voices

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