Robot inspections allay fears of leakage at Japanese nuclear plant
Remote-controlled robots have found that one of the reactors at a stricken Japanese nuclear power plant was not leaking water as feared, news reports said Wednesday.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) began inspecting reactor 1 late Tuesday after data indicated a leak of radioactive water, possibly pushed out by nitrogen being pumped in to reduce the risk of a hydrogen explosion, dpa reported.
The reactor and three others at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
The operator said the robots did not find "notable water leakage" during a two-hour survey. It said it would keep checking the integrity of the reactor by measuring the pressure and other factors as more water was injected, Kyodo News reported.
But the checks had not eliminated the possibility of a leak, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told a news conference. The robots only inspected part of the reactor building, he said.
TEPCO said it would increase the amount of water injected into reactor 1 on a trial basis, with the aim of fully submerging the fuel rods, which are at risk of overheating.
Fresh water is being pumped into the vessel to cool the fuel at a rate of 6 tons per hour. Under Wednesday's trial, the amount of water injected will be raised to 14 tons per hour, before being cut back to 6 tons, Jiji Press reported.
If the water levels and pressure inside the reactor remain satisfactory during the test, the work to submerge the fuel rods will start Thursday or later, Jiji said.