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TEPCO to drain two more tanks at Fukushima nuclear plant
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 24, 2013


Japan top diplomat visits Chernobyl nuclear plant
Chernobyl, Ukraine (AFP) Aug 25, 2013 - Japan's foreign minister travelled Sunday to Chernobyl in Ukraine, the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster, to compare notes on relief efforts following Japan's own disaster at Fukushima, officials said.

Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida's trip is "the first visit to Ukraine by a Japanese foreign minister over the past seven years," a spokesperson for the Japanese embassy told AFP.

As part of his three-day visit, Kishida went on a fact-finding mission to Chernobyl with the aim of sharing experience in overcoming the consequences of nuclear disasters, the spokesperson said.

In Chernobyl, he met with the station's director, an AFP photographer said. No other details were immediately available.

On Monday, Japan's top diplomat is expected to hold talks with Ukraine's Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara.

The two men will discuss cooperation in studying and overcoming the consequences of nuclear disasters in Japan and Ukraine, said a spokesman for the Ukrainian foreign ministry without providing further details.

In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami caused meltdowns at the Fukushima nuclear plant in northeast Japan.

While no one is officially recorded as having died as a direct result of the meltdown at the reactors, large areas around the plant had to be evacuated, with tens of thousands of people still unable to return.

The explosion at reactor number four at the Chernobyl power plant in the early hours of April 26, 1986 sent radioactive fallout into the atmosphere that spread from the Soviet Union across Europe.

According to Ukrainian official figures, more than 25,000 of the cleanup workers from then-Soviet Ukraine, Russia and Belarus have died since the disaster.

The two catastrophes are the world's only nuclear disasters to have been categorised as level seven on the United Nations' seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).

Fukushima operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said Saturday it would empty two more coolant tanks that hold radioactive water over fears of fresh leaks at the crippled nuclear plant.

Earlier this week, TEPCO said around 300 tonnes of radioactive liquid was believed to have escaped from one of the hundreds of tanks used to cool the broken reactors.

The episode was dubbed the most serious since the plant went into meltdown in 2011 after being hit by a quake and tsunami.

TEPCO said Saturday that the affected tank was one of three to have been relocated from their original zone because of ground subsidence in the area.

TEPCO has not yet pinpointed the source of the leak in the first tank but there are fears the relocation may have been connected with the incident.

Accordingly, the firm has decided to pump out water from the other two starting on Sunday, a company official said.

Nuclear watchdog inspectors who toured Japan's crippled Fukushima plant following the discovery of a huge radioactive leak declared Friday that water storage at the site was "sloppy".

The meltdowns at the plant in March 2011 were ultimately categorised as level seven on the INES scale. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 is the only other incident to have been given the most serious ranking.

More than two years after the disaster at Fukushima, TEPCO continues to struggle with the clean-up, a project expected to take around four decades.

A catalogue of mishaps, often accompanied by a perceived unwillingness to publicly reveal the extent of problems, is leading to a growing chorus warning of the need for outside experts to step in and take control of the operation.

Critics say the utility -- which has been effectively nationalised -- is not up to the task.

Fukushima water handling 'sloppy': nuclear watchdog
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 23, 2013 - Nuclear watchdog inspectors who toured Japan's crippled Fukushima plant following the discovery of a huge radioactive leak declared Friday that water storage at the site was "sloppy".

Earlier this week around 300 tonnes of radioactive liquid is believed to have escaped from one of the hundreds of tanks holding liquid used to cool the broken reactors, in an episode dubbed the most serious in nearly two years.

"I can't help but say it was sloppy," said Nuclear Regulation Authority committee member Toyoshi Fuketa of Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO's) management of contaminated water, according to Jiji Press.

Fuketa was part of a 15-member team, including experts on radiation and water flow, who visited the wrecked power station to see for themselves how the polluted water had escaped.

The one-day inspection finished late Friday, an agency official told AFP. "We will analyse results of the inspection and discuss them at a working group next week," the official said. "We may carry out further on-site inspections if necessary."

On Thursday workers looking for other holed tanks found two areas near other containers where radiation was unexpectedly high, although they could see no leaks.

Nuclear regulators Wednesday said the leak represented a level-three "serious incident" on the UN's seven-point International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), raising the alert from level one, an "anomaly".

The quake and tsunami-sparked meltdowns at the plant in March 2011 were ultimately categorised as level seven on the INES scale. The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 is the only other incident to have been given the most serious ranking.

Plant owner TEPCO has said puddles near the holed tank were so toxic that anyone exposed to them would receive the same amount of radiation in an hour that a nuclear plant worker in Japan is allowed to receive in five years.

The company said the leak may have carried radioactive materials out to sea. Groundwater that has mixed with polluted water has already seeped into the ocean, with TEPCO launching an operation to pump it out of 28 wells, the company said Friday.

More than two years after the disaster at Fukushima, TEPCO continues to struggle with the clean-up, a project expected to take around four decades.

A catalogue of mishaps, often accompanied by a perceived unwillingness to publicly reveal the extent of problems, is leading to a growing chorus warning of the need for outside experts to step in and take control of the operation.

Critics say the utility -- which has been effectively nationalised -- is not up to the task.

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CIVIL NUCLEAR
Radiation hotspots found at Fukushima tanks: TEPCO
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 22, 2013
The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said Thursday it had found new radiation hotspots near tanks storing radioactive water, but no new leaks. Around 300 tonnes of toxic liquid is believed to have escaped from one of the tanks that hold polluted water, some of which was used to cool the broken reactors, in an episode dubbed the most serious in nearly two years. Plant owne ... read more


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