Japan fire trucks work to cool nuke plant

2011-03-18 09:05

Tokyo – Japan conducted new water cooling operations at a quake-hit nuclear plant today, using a fleet of fire trucks as workers racing to avert a catastrophe also ran a power cable to the site.

Tons of water were used to douse overheating fuel rods at the Fukushima No.1 power station, which suffered critical damage in the massive earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan a week ago.

The trucks unleashed high-powered streams of water on the facility, located 250km northeast of Tokyo, NHK footage showed.

A defence ministry official told AFP they were targeting the number-three reactor.

Air Self-Defence Force chief of staff Shigeru Iwasaki told reporters that six fire engines and one truck were involved in the operation.

The twin disasters knocked out the plant’s reactor cooling systems, sparking a series of explosions and fires.

Authorities have since struggled to keep the fuel rods inside reactors, and fuel storage containment pools, under water.

If they are exposed to air, they could degrade further and emit large amounts of dangerous radioactive material.

Yesterday, four twin-rotor CH-47 Chinook military helicopters ran the first mission to empty large buckets that hold more than seven tons of water each onto the facility.

Five special SDF fire trucks later joined the effort.

“We poured water onto the number-three reactor yesterday.

There is no doubt that water entered the pool, but we have not confirmed how much water is in there,” chief government spokesperson Yukio Edano told a news conference.

The fuel rod pools at reactors three and four may be boiling and are not fully covered by roofs that would reduce radiation leaks.

Fluctuating radiation levels at the complex have hindered the cooling operation, repeatedly sparking delays.

Edano put radiation levels today at about 100 microsieverts, and that there was no immediate threat to human health.

A single dose of 1 000 microsieverts – one sievert – causes temporary radiation sickness such as nausea.

Officials at plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said they believed the water-dousing efforts were bearing fruit – in the face of scepticism from some international experts.

“When we poured water, we monitored steam rising from the facility. By pouring water, we believe the water turned down the heat. We believe that there was a certain effect,” a Tepco spokesperson said.

Workers were also continuing with the crucial task of trying to restore power lines, Edano said, in a bid to reactivate the plant’s crippled cooling systems.

The nuclear safety agency said early today that Tepco had managed to get a line from a regional power firm into the plant site which would allow it to restore the cooling system.

“The power cable is near. We would like to speed up this operation as we can then use it to speed up the rest of what we have to do,” Edano said.

The 9.0-magnitude quake, the biggest on record to strike Japan, knocked down electricity pylons used to supply power to the plant.

Paving the way for a more direct role by the US military, the Pentagon said it had sent a team of experts to evaluate what assistance US forces could provide to the effort to control the situation at the Fukushima complex.

The French nuclear authority has said the disaster equated to a six on the seven-point international scale for nuclear accidents, ranking the crisis second only in gravity to Chernobyl.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.