Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has found radioactive coolant water leaking from a broken pipe in reactor 4 of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, but it hasn’t flowed outside the building.
The reactor’s fuel rods are in the spent-fuel pool, as the reactor was offline for maintenance when the March 11 disaster struck. The leaked coolant water contains radioactive materials from the fuel pool.
According to Tepco, about 8.5 tons of water leaked onto the floor of the reactor 4 building at 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. The leak was stopped 13 minutes later by closing a valve, officials said.
Tepco initially estimated that 6 litters of water had leaked.
The utility is looking into the cause of the pipe damage and suspects it was caused either by the recent cold weather or the hydrogen explosions that took place in the early phase of the crisis.
Criticism is mounting against Tepco and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency for their failure to take basic steps to prevent the freezing of numerous makeshift water pipes that have been set up since the crisis started.
Mass suit in Saga
A record 1,704 people from across Japan are suing the government and Kyushu Electric Power Co., demanding the shutdown of all four reactors at the utility’s Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture.
In the suit filed Tuesday with the Saga District Court against the state and Kyushu Electric Power, the plaintiffs from Saga and 28 other prefectures assert the reactors are dangerous and make them feel insecure amid the Fukushima nuclear crisis.
They are also seeking compensation of ¥10,000 each per month covering the period from March 2011, when the crisis erupted at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant, until Kyushu Electric totally shuts down the Genkai atomic plant.
“We want the judges to agree that the safety dogma regarding nuclear reactors has collapsed during the trial,” said Akira Hasegawa, the plaintiffs’ leader and former president of Saga University.
Kyushu Electric said it would look into the suit and act “appropriately.”
The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry declined comment, saying it has yet to study the complaint.
Another group of around 300 residents also sued Kyushu Electric last month demanding that the utility suspend operations at the Genkai plant. The four reactors are now offline for checks.