TEPCO to inject nitrogen into No. 1 reactor to prevent explosion

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
By Paul Martin

Japan Today
April 6, 2011

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on Wednesday prepared to inject nitrogen into one of the reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex to reduce the potential risk of a hydrogen explosion, while it succeeded in stopping highly radioactive water leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the plant.

The nitrogen, an inert gas, is expected to be injected into the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel, a process that could take several days. Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the government’s nuclear agency, denied during a morning press conference that there is an ‘‘immediate danger’’ of explosion.

In addition to the task of maintaining the relative stability of all six reactors at the nuclear complex, TEPCO has also been engaged in efforts to stop highly radioactive water from leaking into the sea and cleaning up contaminated water within the plant.

At 5:38 a.m., highly contaminated water, which had been confirmed as leaking into the sea from around a cracked pit located near the No. 2 reactor water intake on Saturday, stopped flowing after TEPCO injected around 6,000 liters of chemical agents including sodium silicate, known as ‘‘water glass.’‘

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said it had ordered the utility to continue monitoring the pit to check whether the water leakage has completely stopped, and noted it is possible that the water, which has lost an outlet, could show up from other areas of the plant.

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