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Japan mulls draping fabric over reactors: report

by Staff Writers
Osaka (AFP) March 30, 2011
Japan is considering draping crippled reactor buildings at the Fukushima nuclear plant with a fabric to reduce radiation, and using a tanker to siphon off contaminated water, a report said Wednesday.

The government did not explicitly confirm the report, but Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Japan's leaders and nuclear experts were discussing "every possibility, including those mentioned in the press".

The government is tabling multiple options in its struggle to control overheating reactors that have leaked radiation into the air and water since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Asahi Shimbun daily reported.

One possibility is to cap reactors one, three and four with a special fabric to cover roofs and walls knocked out or damaged by a series of hydrogen explosions, the Asahi Shimbun reported, citing unnamed government officials.

The report did not specify what type of material may be used to limit the radiation, but said authorities were also considering installing filtered ventilators inside to remove gas buildup and avert further blasts.

Another plan is to anchor an empty tanker near the water outlet off the number two reactor, where highly radioactive water has flooded the basement of the adjacent turbine building and an underground tunnel, the Asahi said.

Workers have pumped some of the water into containers that are now full and have searched for ways to safely dispose of water -- equal to more than two Olypmic-sized swimming pools -- still in the tunnel system near reactor two.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami battered Japan's northeastern coast, wiping out entire communities, and triggering the worst nuclear crisis since Ukraine's Chernobyl in 1986.

earlier related report
Smoke briefly seen at Fukushima's sister nuclear plant
Osaka (AFP) March 30, 2011 - Smoke was briefly seen Wednesday at the sister plant to the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility where emergency workers are trying to prevent a critical meltdown, its operator said.

The smoke came from an electric power distribution switchboard on the first floor of a turbine building at one of the Fukushima Daini (No. 2) plant's four reactor units at 5:56 pm (0856 GMT), Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said.

"TEPCO workers stopped the power supply at the building and local fire officials determined it was not a fire, but there was something abnormal about the equipment," a TEPCO official said.

The plant is located some 10 kilometres (six miles) south of TEPCO's crippled Fukushima Daiichi (No.1) plant which was ravaged by the 9.0-magnitude quake and resultant tsunami on March 11.

At Daiichi, workers have been struggling to keep fuel rods from overheating and melting down at four of its six reactors after the plant's cooling systems were crippled by the tsunami on March 11.

The earthquake triggered an automatic shutdown for Daini's four reactors which have since cooled and stabilised, the official said.

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Japan's atomic plant neighbours mull leaving homes
Onagawa, Japan (AFP) March 30, 2011
The nightmare of Japan's unfolding nuclear emergency is sending fear through the community that lives in the shadow of another coastal reactor. The Onagawa nuclear power plant has been shut down since the huge tsunami of March 11 crashed into the northeast coast, wiping out entire towns and setting off an atomic crisis in Fukushima. The plant, which sits in a cove on the Ojika peninsula, ... read more

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