A recent power failure at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has resulted in four of the plant's fuel storage pools being left without fresh cooling water for more than 20 hours, raising concerns about the safety of the plant.
A recent power failure at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has resulted in four of the plant's fuel storage pools being left without fresh cooling water for more than 20 hours, raising concerns about the safety of the plant. Fox News explained that officials at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said that pool temperature levels at the plant were within safe levels and would remain so for four days while the power issue is resolved.
Since the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the country, the plant has been running on makeshift equipment. The disaster destroyed the plant's power and cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and the fuel storage pools to overheat. Thousands of residents in surrounding areas were evacuated because of radiation concerns. Equipment condition monitoring in nuclear plants is especially critical because malfunctioning reactors can cause nuclear meltdown, which releases harmful radiation into the surrounding environment.
TEPCO workers are currently searching for the specific source of the equipment failure so they can repair the problem, reported The Globe and Mail. Engineers suspect that it is an issue with one of the switchboards, but thus far, have been unable to confirm the cause of the problem. They are also preparing a backup water injection system that can be implemented if the repairs don't resolve the problem, reported Fox News.
Concerns about plant, still relying on 'makeshift equipment'
Analysts see this power outage as a major test of TEPCO's ability to resolve the problem, explained The Globe and Mail. In the past, the company was slammed by the media for failing to communicate equipment integrity issues through the proper regulatory channels. The company is already being criticized for failing to announce this power outage until nearly 24 hours after the issue was discovered. Many are concerned that the plant has not fully recovered from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and that its equipment and operations remain compromised.
"Fukushima Dai-ichi still runs on makeshift equipment, and we are trying to switch to something more permanent and dependable, which is more desirable," TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told Fox News. "Considering the equipment situation, we may be pushing a little too hard."
Regulators have also expressed concerns about equipment reliability, saying that the makeshift equipment is insufficient to support plant operations. The company has been advised to switch to more permanent solutions as soon as possible. The old fuel reactors still have to be cleared of radioactive material before the plant can be fully decommissioned, which could take up to 40 years, explained Fox News.