Fukushima shutdown could take a month

2011-03-25 13:21
Osaka - Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tepco on Friday said it may take a month to achieve cold shutdown, as Japan mulled hiking the crisis to a notch under Chernobyl on an atomic accident scale.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa) currently rates Fukushima at 5 out of 7, making it the worst ever in Japan, putting it on the same level as the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) admitted on Friday it may take at least another month to achieve a cold shutdown of all reactors - when temperatures inside fall below boiling point and its cooling systems are back at atmospheric pressure.

"We are still in the process of assessing the damage at the plant, so we can't put a deadline on when the cooling operations will work again. It may take more than a month, who knows," a Tepco spokesperson told AFP.

Temperatures at one reactor spiked at one point to 400ºC this week before stabilising. Temperatures inside reactors one to four remain around boiling point, a nuclear safety agency official said.

Progress has been slow in efforts to restore the plant's cooling systems that were knocked out after Japan's biggest recorded earthquake and a subsequent tsunami that devastated swathes of the northeast.

Serious accident

Firefighters have been dousing stricken reactors with seawater in an effort to cool damaged reactors and fuel rods, with radioactive particles emitted into the air, contaminating tap water, the sea and food products.

Japan's nuclear power regulator indicated on Friday it may raise its assessment of the crisis at the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to level 6 or "serious accident", after gathering data on radiation levels in surrounding regions.

A Nisa official said: "We can't rule out the possibility of raising the disaster level to 6. Depending on how the situation unfolds, it's still possible for the level to be raised."

Among the six reactors at the power plant, reactors one, two and three were operating at the time of the magnitude-9.0 quake and halted automatically.

But the cores are believed to have partially melted after the cooling systems failed, sparking a series of explosions and fires.

Authorities have since struggled to keep fuel rods inside reactors and fuel storage containment pools underwater. If they are exposed to air, they could degrade further and emit large amounts of dangerous radioactive material.

France's Nuclear Safety Authority already rates the Fukushima crisis at 6 on the scale. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was put at 7, the highest.

Such ratings are issued based on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, or INES.
Read more on:    japan  |  nuclear  |  japan earthquake

Read News24’s Comments Policy

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
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


Hottie of the day: Charlotte

Meet our hottie of the day, Charlotte. She feels sexiest after a good workout at the gym!



This is why guys shouldn’t be in photos
BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike
Want to start talking dirty?
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime use...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


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.


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.