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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Japan nuclear firm sees 'cold shutdown' in 6-9 months

Japan firm's roadmap toward nuclear 'cold shutdown'
Tokyo (AFP) April 17, 2011 - Japan's embattled Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Sunday presented a timeline for stabilising its tsunami-hit and radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Five weeks after a quake and tsunami knocked out the cooling systems of four of its six reactors, TEPCO said it hopes to reduce radiation leaking from the plant in three months and achieve "cold shutdowns" of reactors within six to nine months.

The operator said its ultimate goal is "to enable evacuating residents to return and to secure the safety of Japanese citizens". Here are the main aims listed in the roadmap:

-- WITHIN THREE MONTHS - BY JULY

-- Achieve stable reactor cooling by fully submerging fuel rods in water, injecting nitrogen and setting up heat-exchange equipment

-- Seal the leaking reactor two while carefully injecting water, to avoid more runoff of highly contaminated water in turbine building and shafts

-- Cool spent fuel rod pools and build a support column below the reactor four pool, where the outer building has been damaged by fire

-- Contain or recycle radioactive water to stop leaks into the environment, and build new facilities for storage and reprocessing

-- Stop aerial spread of radioactive particles by spraying resin on the ground, removing rubble and starting to cover reactor buildings with special fabric

-- Reduce radiation and expand monitoring in evacuation zone; disclose data quickly

-- WITHIN SIX TO NINE MONTHS - BY OCTOBER 2011 TO JANUARY 2012

-- Achieve and maintain "cold shutdown" of all reactors, the state in which temperature and pressure drops and radiation falls dramatically

-- Keep spent fuel rods stably submerged in containment pools, remotely control water injection and set up heat-exchange equipment

-- Secure storage space for highly contaminated water, and reprocess and recycle less radioactive water with new treatment methods

-- Contain air and soil contamination by covering entire reactor buildings one, three and four with special fabric

-- Keep monitoring radiation levels in evacuation zone

-- IN THE LONGER TERM

-- Build new, fully-fledged water reprocessing facility

-- Prevent structures from decaying due to chloride damage

-- Safely remove fuel rods from all reactors and storage pools

-- Seal the plant completely, with such materials as concrete, and solidify radioactive soil to remove it from the site for decontamination.

by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) April 17, 2011
The operator of Japan's tsunami-hit nuclear plant said Sunday it aims to reduce radiation leaks within three months and to achieve a "cold shutdown" within six to nine months.

Japan's embattled Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) offered the timeline more than five weeks after a giant quake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at its six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi atomic power station.

The damage sent atomic core temperatures soaring in partial fuel rod meltdowns, in what became the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. It has also left the country facing crippling power shortages.

Radiation has leaked into the air, soil and sea from the coastal plant northeast of Tokyo, as emergency crews have doused overheating reactors and fuel rod pools to prevent full meltdowns of volatile fuel rods.

TEPCO's chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said at a press conference that the utility aims to cool reactors and start substantially reducing radiation from the explosion-charred facilities within three months.

Within six to nine months, TEPCO said in a statement, it expects to achieve "cold shutdowns" of all the six reactors, a stable condition in which temperatures drop and radiation leaks fall dramatically.

"As the short-term targets, we have set two steps," said Katsumata. "Step one is to steadily reduce the amount of radiation.

"In step two, we aim to control the release of radioactive substances and greatly control the amount of radiation."

"There are various risks ahead," he cautioned. "But we aim to complete step one in about three months and step two in another three to six months."

TEPCO also said it would put special covers on the heavily damaged reactor one, three and four outer buildings.

The company said that an initial focus would be on preventing new hydrogen explosions in reactors by injecting nitrogen, and on avoiding further releases of radioactive water into the environment.

Katsumata also apologised and said he was considering resigning over the crisis, which has sparked anger and criticism over the information TEPCO has provided.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan called the plan "a small step forward", Kyodo News reported.

Trade and industry minister Banri Kaieda earlier said the roadmap would help move the nuclear crisis from the emergency phase into a stabilisation phase.

"The government urges TEPCO to carry out the roadmap steadily or carry it out faster than planned," he said.

Kaieda added that in six to nine months the government would review the evacuation area around the plant, having set a 20-kilometre (12-mile) exclusion zone and urged people to also leave from a wider 30-kilometre radius.

Japan has raised the level of the crisis from five to the maximum seven on an international scale, the same "major accident" category as the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, although it stressed that far less radiation has been released.




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Fukushima Cold In 9 Months; Robots To Explore Reactors
Tokyo (AFP) April 17, 2011
The operator of Japan's stricken nuclear plant said Sunday it will send two remote-controlled robots into a reactor building damaged by a hydrogen explosion to gauge radiation and temperature levels. Emergency workers battling to stabilise the plant after a massive earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems on March 11 have not been able to enter any of the reactor buildings since th ... read more

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