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Saturday Update

UPDATE AS OF 11:30 A.M. EDT, SATURDAY, APRIL 9:

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has increased its efforts to remove highly radioactive water that is slowing restoration of reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum reports.

For the last several days, TEPCO workers have been discharging low-level radioactive water from a storage tank to the Pacific Ocean to make room for highly contaminated water that has accumulated in the basements of reactor turbine buildings. After the discharge is complete, which is expected by Sunday, and after the storage tank has been inspected for possible earthquake damage, workers can begin to pump the radioactive water out of the turbine buildings.

Earlier this week, TEPCO sealed a crack in a concrete enclosure near reactor 2 that was allowing highly radioactive water to leak into the ocean. Since then, the utility has reported the water level in the enclosure has risen, but said it is not expected to overflow from the enclosure. TEPCO has not identified the source of the contaminated water.

Workers continue to use backup pumps to inject cooling water into reactors 1, 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi site. Spraying water onto the used fuel pools of reactors 1-4 continues on an as-needed basis. TEPCO also continues to inject nitrogen gas into the primary containment of reactor 1. The nitrogen will prevent possible ignition of hydrogen that may be accumulating in the containment.

TEPCO is preparing to fly a small, unmanned helicopter over the plant to take infrared photos of areas that have been out of reach. The photos may help the company plan its restoration work.

Overall, dose rates around the site continue to decline.

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