The operator of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reportedly has only nine days to repair one of its reactors to prevent dangerous overheating.
Reports say the technicians of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) switched off the cooling system at the fifth reactor unit of the plant on Sunday following a water leak there. An investigation by engineers showed 1,300 liters of water leaked from a cooling system.
“The source of the leak was a 3 mm-diameter hole near a flow valve,” a TEPCO statement said.
If the system is not repaired in nine days, temperatures will exceed the dangerous threshold of 65 degrees. Such a temperature would increase the possibility of dangerous reactions and further radiation leaks in the plant.
The reactor unit 5 was offline but loaded with fuel rods when the plant was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami back in March 2011. Back then, a nine-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that inflicted heavy damage on the six-reactor Fukushima plant. The cooling systems of the plant’s reactors were knocked out, leading to meltdowns and the release of radioactive material.
However, a report released by a Japanese parliamentary panel in July last year said the disaster in Fukushima was not only due to the tsunami, but also a “man-made disaster.” The report criticized the “government, regulatory authorities and Tokyo Electric Power Company” for being devoid of “a sense of responsibility to protect people’s lives and society.”
The incident is the world’s worst atomic accident since Chernobyl in 1986. More than 18,000 people were left dead or missing in the disaster.