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Radiation levels in one part of reactor no.2 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station are the highest since the disaster in March 2011, media report, quoting the facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), as saying.
Tepco inspected the site via a camera attached to a guiding pipe, and according to Nikkei Asian Review, the company has estimated that an area of the containment vessel was emitting radiation of 530 sieverts per hour--enough to kill a person in under a minute. Prior to this, emissions of up to 73 Sv/hour had been detected at the reactor after it was melted in the nuclear disaster almost six years ago.
Tepco said on Tuesday that the camera “captured intriguing images that may be fuel debris from the March 2011 accident, but further examination is necessary before that can be verified”.
Yesterday the company said:
“After some examination of digital images obtained from the Unit 2 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) pre-investigation, we found that some deposits had adhered to the structures directly below the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) and that a part of the grating had sunken in at the center of the pedestal (the concrete base supporting the RPV). We are still examining the nature of the deposits, considering the possibility of fuel debris, and the cause of the deformed grating, but this is a significant step forward to understand details and conditions inside the pedestal.”
But, “it’s highly possible that melted fuel leaked through,” Nikkei Asian Review quoted Yuichi Okamura, a company spokesman for nuclear power, as saying.
This would further complicate Tepco’s job in decommissioning the reactor expected to take four decades and billions upon billions of dollars.
In November last year, the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan decided to extend the life of three reactors at two nuclear power plants in the Fukui Prefecture. This rekindled worry about a possible repeat of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, as it came only a week after the neighboring Fukushima Prefecture was rocked by a 7.4 aftershock.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.