Workers adjust gauges to flood Fukushima No. 1 reactor with water


Cooler King
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Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant adjusted measuring gauges Tuesday as part of the process to flood the vessel containing the No. 1 reactor with water and create a system to keep the fuel inside cool.

But the working environment remains tough due to high radiation levels inside the No. 1 reactor building. The levels of radiation have only fallen slightly since workers installed radiation shielding.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has increased the amount of water being injected into the No. 1 reactor core in a bid to fill the reactor’s primary containment vessel with water above the level of the fuel. The utility also plans to install a heat exchanger to keep the water circulating around the reactor cool.

The gauges for measuring the water level and reactor pressure are likely to show some inaccuracies due to high temperatures and humidity, and Tokyo Electric wants to adjust them so that workers can check the change in water level and other data in detail.

Restoring stable reactor cooling systems, which were lost in the wake of the March 11 quake and tsunami, is seen as vital to bringing the country’s worst nuclear crisis under control, as the current emergency measure of continually injecting water from outside has created vast pools of highly radioactive water within the plant.

According to measurements taken Monday, radiation levels in areas of the No. 1 reactor building where workers need to remain were between 10 and 70 millisieverts per hour. Some sheeting to shield against radiation was installed, but the level of radiation only fell by around 1 millisievert per hour.

TEPCO has also decided to change the current water injection route used to cool the No. 3 reactor, given that the temperature of the pressure vessel containing the reactor core has recently been rising.

On May 8, the upper part of the reactor’s pressure vessel reached 217 C.
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