Power cut at Fukushima nuclear plant leaves storage pools without fresh water

Outage is a major test for Tepco to show if it has learned anything from the 2011 disaster

Four fuel storage pools at Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear plant have been without fresh cooling water for nearly 20 hours due to a power outage, the plant's operator said today, raising concerns about the fragility of a facility that still runs on makeshift equipment.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said that pool temperatures at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were well within safe levels, and that pools would remain safe for at least four days without fresh cooling water. The utility said the reactors were unaffected and no other abnormalities were found.

Tepco workers were scrambling to find the cause and repair the problems.

Workers were fixing the last of the three switchboards that they suspect as a possible cause of the problem and the utility was preparing a backup system in case the repairs didn't fix the issue, Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono told reporters.

“If worse comes to worst, we have a backup water injection system,” said Ono.

Japan's earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011 destroyed the plant's power and cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and fuel storage pools to overheat.

The current power outage is a major test for Tepco to show if it has learned anything from the disaster. Tepco, which has repeatedly faced cover-up scandals, was already slammed by local media today for waiting hours to disclose the blackout.

Ono acknowledged the plant was vulnerable.

“Fukushima Dai-ichi still runs on makeshift equipment, and we are trying to switch to something more permanent and dependable, which is more desirable,” he said. “Considering the equipment situation, we may be pushing a little too hard.”

Ono said the utility did not immediately try to switch to a backup cooling system because doing so without finding and fixing the cause could lead to a repeat of the problem. There is a backup cooling system but no backup outside power.

Regulators previously have raised concerns about the makeshift equipment and urged the plant to switch them to more permanent arrangement. The operator still has to remove melted, fatally radioactive fuel from reactors before fully decommissioning the plant, which officials say could take 40 years.

Yoshihide Suga, the chief government spokesman, sought to allay concerns.

“In a sense, we have put in place measures that leave no room for worry,” Suga told reporters in a regular press briefing.

The command center at the plant suffered a brief power outage before 7 pm on Monday evening. Electricity was quickly restored to the command center but not to equipment pumping water into the fuel pools.

The temperature in the four pools had risen slightly, but was well below the utility's target control temperature of 65 degrees Celsius, Tepco said.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high