TEPCO restarts cooling systems for Fukushima’s spent fuel pool four as Ohi reactor goes online

By End the Lie

A worker wearing protective suit and mask works atop of destroyed unit 4 reactor building of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, northeastern Japan, Monday, Feb 20, 2012. (Image credit: Issei Kato)

TEPCO, the company operating the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station which has been the site of an unrelenting disaster since March of last year, has reportedly been able to restart the cooling systems for spent fuel pool four.

Spent fuel pool four has become a major concern due to many factors, not the least of which is the fact that there was bulging of one of the walls of the building housing the pool which TEPCO refuses to allow outside experts to inspect.

For those who are not aware, spent fuel pool four is a disaster waiting to happen. The potential collapse of spent fuel pool four could even dwarf the earlier Fukushima meltdowns but another issue was raised when it was reported that the cooling system for the pool failed.

Kyodo News out of Japan reported yesterday, “The cooling system for a spent fuel pool at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s No. 4 reactor automatically suspended operation Saturday morning after an alarm issued a warning at around 6:25 a.m.”

This information was gathered from a statement from the TEPCO, the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

According to TEPCO, there was no confirmed leakage of water with radioactive materials and the water temperature of the pool when the operations were suspended was 31 Celsius or 87.8 Fahrenheit.

It was also reported yesterday by Kyodo News that TEPCO was unable to bring the cooling systems back online for reasons which were left unaddressed. Furthermore, the backup cooling system failed to activate for reasons which are also left unaddressed.

However, TEPCO did say that they were “looking into the cause of the trouble” and that the temperature was unlikely to rise rapidly.

Rapid temperature rise could lead to the small amount of water left in the pool to boil off and thus leave the nuclear fuel rods exposed to open air.

Indeed, if the pool were to collapse – which TEPCO claims it will not, of course – it could very well “spark a catastrophic nuclear fire, which would release 10 times more radioactivity than at Chernobyl,” according to a recent report from Radio Australia.

Thankfully, today it was reported that TEPCO was able to get the cooling system back online and that the temperature in the pool only reached 43 degrees Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit), a mere 22 degrees Celsius short of the maximum safe temperature of 65 Celsius (149 Fahrenheit).

TEPCO claims that since the cooling systems are back online, the temperature should return to normal fairly soon.

However, TEPCO’s track record is far from reliable and the reason(s) behind the failure of the main cooling system and the backup system are still not known.

The times the causes are addressed, if they are at all, it is left so ambiguous that absolutely nothing can be determined.

For instance, take Australia’s ABC which reported, “TEPCO says a fault caused the cooling system to shutdown and then a back up system failed to activate.”

A fault? Is that really as specific as they could get? Even if everything is absolutely fine and there is nothing to worry about, TEPCO is not inspiring confidence.

To make matters even worse for the Japanese, the massive anti-nuclear protests which have occurred across Japan have done nothing to stop the Kansai Electric Power Company from restarting their 1,180 megawatt No. 3 unit at the Ohi nuclear power plant.

The Japanese government approved the restart of reactors three and four “despite public safety concerns,” according to Reuters.

Reuters also reports that some 100 protesters blocked a road near the Ohi plant with vehicles, part of a larger group of around 650 individuals who were protesting the move.

However, “a Kansai Electric spokesman said the protest did not affect the restart.”

Apparently the roughly 7,000 protesters demonstrating against the continued use of nuclear power in the streets of downtown Tokyo, as reported by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, didn’t affect the restart either.

It’s quite unfortunate to see that the Japanese government cares so little about the opinions of the Japanese people and their health, not to mention the potentially global effects which could come as a result of continued nuclear power in Japan.

As far as I can tell, it appears to be the case that the Japanese government will push forward with restarting their nuclear power plants regardless of what anyone – even the Japanese people – have to say about it.

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2 Responses to TEPCO restarts cooling systems for Fukushima’s spent fuel pool four as Ohi reactor goes online

  1. Anonymous July 2, 2012 at 2:11 PM

    personally, I think TEPCO is full of shit

    Reply
  2. Marti July 6, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Does anyone know anything about this video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aiJJ1UWx3u4&feature=share

    Reply

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