TEPCO Reports Water in Reactor Vessel Remains Below Boiling Point
November 18, 2011
- Water temperatures inside the Fukushima Daiichi reactor pressure vessels remain below boiling as operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. reports on progress toward stabilizing the damaged reactors. The company expects to reach what it calls a “cold shutdown condition” in the three reactors by the end of the year, with temperatures below 212 F and radiation contained. The exact status of the fuel in the reactors is not known. But if damaged fuel has leaked from the reactors into the primary containments, TEPCO said “it is sufficiently cooled to suppress steam from being generated and [the] accompanying release of radioactive materials.” Radiation measured at the site boundary is 10 millirem per year, one-tenth of the government safety limit. The circulating reactor cooling systems continue to function, as pumps maintain the total volume of accumulated water on the site at a level that can withstand heavy rain or an extended outage of processing facilities.
- Japanese authorities have banned rice shipments from the Oonami district of Fukushima City after detection of radiation levels above the government limit, Financial Times reports. Oonami is about 30 miles from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. This is the first time radiation levels above the safety limit have been found in rice since the nuclear accident.
- If Japan doesn’t build any new nuclear energy facilities by 2035, the cost of energy will skyrocket, the International Energy Agency says in a UPI report. Only 11 of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants are operating, most of them shut down for routine maintenance and not permitted to restart until successful completion of stress tests. With greater dependence on fossil fuel, Japan consumed six times more oil and 32 percent more natural gas in October compared to a year ago.
- Most of the radioactive materials released during the Fukushima Daiichi accident fell into the Pacific and have spread into other oceans around the world, scientists at Japan’s Meteorological Research Institute said. In a report in the Herald Sun, an Australian newspaper, the scientists said the radiation has been widely dispersed and is well below the levels affecting humans.