Heavy equip­ment falls into re­ac­tor pool

The Financial Daily - - INTERNATIONAL -

TOKYO: A 400-kilo­gramme ( 880- pound) ma­chine part fell into a nu­clear fuel pool at Ja­pan's crip­pled Fukushima plant Fri­day, the op­er­a­tor said. Tokyo Elec­tric Power (TEPCO), said it had not de­tected any sig­nif­i­cant changes in ra­di­a­tion read­ings or in the level of pool wa­ter at the No. 3 re­ac­tor. A mas­sive earth­quake and tsunami in March 2011 rav­aged Ja­pan's north­east­ern coast and wrecked the plant, spark­ing melt­downs at three of its six re­ac­tors. Fri­day's in­ci­dent oc­curred shortly af­ter noon dur­ing a re­motely con­trolled op­er­a­tion to re­move de­bris from the fuel pool at the unit where the bro­ken re­ac­tor still lies un­touched. The pool con­tains 566 fuel rods, most of which are spent. The op­er­at­ing con­sole of the fuel han­dling ma­chine slipped loose and fell into the pool as it was about to be lifted by a crane, TEPCO said in a state­ment. The con­sole weighed 400 kilo­grammes and mea­sured 160 cen­time­tres (63 inches) by 90 cm by 100 cm, a TEPCO of­fi­cial said. Ra­dioac­tiv­ity read­ings at the pool re­mained un­changed at 3.2 mil­lisiev­erts per hour af­ter the in­ci­dent, the state­ment said. "The op­er­a­tion was be­ing re­motely con­trolled and there were no in­juries caused to work­ers," the of­fi­cial said. The melt­downs at Fukushima were the world's worst nu­clear mishap since the 1986 Ch­er­nobyl dis­as­ter, and forced hun­dreds of thou­sands of lo­cal res­i­dents to evac­u­ate nearby ar­eas. In a vivid re­minder of the fragility of the area, a mag­ni­tude-5.0 quake struck off the Fukushima coast hours af­ter Fri­day's in­ci­dent. But there were no fears of tsunami and no im­me­di­ate re­ports of dam­age.-AFP

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