Feeds

Fukushima reactor core battle continues

May be heading for meltdown, but no Chernobyl likely

The Power of One Infographic

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has battled furiously today to prevent critical overheating of the core of the Fukushima nuclear plant's No 2 reactor.

Following the failure of back-up diesel generators designed to maintain coolant flow, it fell to an emergency "fire pump", to keep the situation under control. This unorthodox method, a TEPCO official explained to the BBC, "had been invented by the team on the ground at Fukushima".

The fire pump itself then ran out of fuel, at which point the fuel rods spent 140 minutes fully exposed.

All the plant's reactors were shut down following Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake, but still require a period of cooling to deal with any residual heat.

Reactors No 1 and 3 lost their external roofs on Saturday and Monday, respectively, as superheated steam vented from their overheating reactor cores broke down into an explosive mix of hydrogen and oxygen.

This structural damage is purely cosmetic, and the radioactive material released into the atmosphere poses a negligable threat to the population. However, it's suspected that Monday's blast in the No 3 reactor may have knocked out four other emergency fire pumps whose services TEPCO would doubtless have welcomed.

Workers managed to raise the water level inside the No 2 reactor this afternoon, but it later dropped, re-exposing the rods.

The Japanese government later "confirmed that Japan has asked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to provide expert help at its damaged nuclear plant", Reuters reports.

If the No 2 reactor's core does melt down, its steel containment vessel is designed to safely trap radioactive material. ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.