The operator of the shattered Fukushima nuclear power plant says 2 seismometers at one of its three melted reactors have been out of order since last year also failed to collect information when a powerful earthquake struck the area earlier this month
TOKYO — The operator of this wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant said Monday that two seismometers at one of its three melted reactors were out of order since last year and did not collect data when a powerful earthquake struck the region earlier this month.
The acknowledgement raised new questions about whether the organization’s risk management has improved since a huge earthquake and tsunami at 2011 destroyed much of this plant.
The Terrible seismometers surfaced during a Nuclear Regulation Authority meeting on Monday to examine new damage at the plant resulting from a magnitude 7.3 quake that struck the area on Feb. 13. Cooling pressure and water levels dropped in the Unit 1 and 3 reactors, suggesting additional damage to their main containment chambers.
Regulatory officials asked TEPCO in the meeting why it didn’t have seismological data from the Unit 3 reactor for Saturday’s quake, and utility officials acknowledged that both of its seismometers had neglected — one in July and the other in October — and hadn’t been mended.
TEPCO also stated that seismometers at all but two of the reactor buildings which survived the 2011 disaster were submerged by water from the tsunami and have never been replaced.
During Monday’s meeting, regulatory officials stated they were worried about the declining water levels and strain from the Unit 1 and 3 main containment chambers due to the chance that the quake had expanded the existing damage or opened fresh leakage paths, and advocated the utility to carefully check for any increased radiation levels in the soil water surrounding the reactor structures.
TEPCO reported no abnormality was detected in water samples so far.
New damage could complicate the plant difficult decommissioning process and add to the large quantities of contaminated water being stored in the plant.
Considering that the 2011 tragedy, cooling water has been escaping continuously in the damaged main containment vessels to the form of reactor and turbine buildings, where the volume increases as groundwater seeps in. The water has been pumped up and handled, then a part of it’s reused as cooling , while the remainder is saved in roughly 1,000 tanks.
TEPCO initially reported there was no abnormality at the plant out of Saturday’s earthquake. But on Monday, it said about 20 of those tanks had slipped slightly due to the quake, a storage container carrying radioactive waste had tilted, and asphalt pavement at the plant had been cracked.