Problem with pump stalls vital link in the effort to cool down reactors at Fukushima No. 1

Water treatment delayed again


Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday that a pump on its new radioactive water treatment system at the Fukushima No. 1 plant halted automatically during an early morning trial run, freezing up the entire apparatus.

Tepco said it believes the pump, a component developed by France’s Areva SA to inject chemicals into the key system to decontaminate radioactive materials, stopped because it was overburdened by excessive liquid flow.

Tepco said it restarted the trial run in the afternoon after adjusting the liquid flow.

Smooth operation of the treatment system, which is designed to remove highly radioactive materials from the massive amount of water accumulating at the power station, is essential to containing the crisis; Tepco plans to eventually recycle the water to cool the plant’s damaged reactors.

The new system was also halted Saturday, a day after becoming fully operational, because the radiation level of a cesium-absorbing component developed by Kurion Inc. of the U.S. had reached its limit earlier than expected, the utility said.

Aiming to resume full-scale operation as fast as possible, Tepco conducted a trial run of the system early Tuesday.

The contaminated water accumulating at the reactor facilities, including coolant liquid leaking from damaged reactors, has been diverted elsewhere at the plant to prevent it from overflowing, but the storage locations are nearing full capacity.

Loan more, banks asked


Tokyo Electric Power Co. has asked its creditor banks to let it keep borrowing money at low interest rates as it continues to struggle with the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Tepco officials said Tuesday.

Large banks, including main lender Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp., are expected to oblige the utility to help it stabilize the electricity supply, sources said.

The major lenders have already agreed to roll over Tepco’s short-term debts and will likely do the same for other loans. They are expected to extend the company’s loans for another term at interest of less than 1 percent per year, the sources said.