Thursday, 3 November 2011

Fukushima fears played down by Tepco

The Japanese power company Tepco has played down the detection of xenon at the melted-down Fukushima No 2 reactor, saying there is no evidence the nuclear reaction has started again.
Tepco said on Wednesday it had detected xenon, a fission byproduct, and as a precaution had poured into the reactor a mixture of water and boric acid, which helps prevent nuclear reactions.
"Analysis suggests that it was not a criticality," said Ai Tanaka, a spokeswoman for Tepco.
The Fukushima plant was crippled by the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in March. It has released radiation into the atmosphere ever since in the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.
The fuel rods in the No 2 reactor and two other reactors melted down early in the crisis after the tsunami destroyed the plant's cooling system.
The company, which was widely criticised for its slow release of information immediately following the disaster, has since reduced the temperatures at the three damaged reactors from levels considered hazardous.
It hopes to declare a cold shutdown – when temperatures are stable below boiling point – by the end of this year.
Tepco said in October the amount of radiation being emitted from the complex had halved from a month earlier in the latest sign that efforts to bring the facility under control are progressing.

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