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March 16, 2011

Seawater dropped from military helicopters onto Fukushima reactors and power line could restore electric powered pumps soon

Crews began aerial water spraying operations from helicopters to cool reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi shortly before 9 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, March 16. The operation was planned for the previous day, but was postponed because of high radiation levels at the plant. News sources said temperatures at reactor 3 were rising. Each helicopter is capable of releasing 7.5 tons of water.

Spokesmen for TEPCO and Japan's regulatory agency, Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency, on March 17 Japan time refuted reports that there was a complete loss of cooling water in the used fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi reactor 4.

TEPCO also continues efforts to restore offsite power to the plant, with up to 40 workers seeking to restore electricity to essential plant systems by Thursday morning, March 17.

Bloomberg - Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are transporting water pumps to the damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture and plan to spray water from the ground, Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said.

The pumps will be provided by the U.S. military for use by the Tokyo Electric Power Co., Kitazawa said, without giving further details. Eleven fire engines will pour water from the ground after helicopters dropped water on the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant’s No. 3 reactor a total of four times today.

Authorities had hoped to drop water from the air yesterday, then abandoned the plan because radiation levels were too high, he said. The operation was conducted today after those levels dropped, he said.

Police forces will also assist in spraying water onto the reactors from the ground.



USA Today also had coverage

A Japanese military CH-47 Chinook helicopter began dumping seawater on the damaged reactor of Unit 3 at the Fukushima complex at 9:48 a.m., said defense ministry spokeswoman Kazumi Toyama. The aircraft dumped at least four loads on the reactor, though much of the water appeared to be dispersed in the air.

The dumping was intended both to help cool the reactor and to replenish water in a pool holding spent fuel rods, Toyama said. The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said earlier that the pool was nearly empty, which might cause the rods to overheat.

apanese officials raised hopes of easing the crisis, saying early Thursday that they may be close to bringing power back to the plant and restoring the reactors' cooling systems.

The new power line would revive electric-powered pumps, allowing the company to control the rising temperatures and pressure that have led to at least partial meltdowns in three reactors. The company is also trying to repair its existing disabled power line.

Tokyo Electric Power spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said the new power line to the plant is almost finished and that officials plan to try it "as soon as possible," but he could not say exactly when.

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