Mixed fortunes marked the Japanese efforts at controlling the radiation crisis in and around the quake-and-tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station on Wednesday.
The plant operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) first reported success in plugging the continuous leak of highly-radioactive water into the nearby sea.
It was detected on April 2 that contaminated water was escaping through a 20-cm. crack in the cable-storage pit of Unit 2. Following a series of measures to stem the leak, a Tepco official announced on Wednesday that “the water-flow from the concrete pit into the ocean [has] stopped.”
Even as this was being hailed as a mini-breakthrough, Tepco said “it is suspected that hydrogen gas is accumulated inside the reactor containment vessel” at Unit 1. To prevent the possibility of yet another hydrogen explosion in such a situation, Tepco began “considering the injection of nitrogen gas inside the vessel.” Unit 1 was the scene of a suspected hydrogen explosion just one day after the March 11 temblor and tsunami. On how the leak was stopped, the IAEA quoted Tepco as saying “coagulation agents [liquid glass] were injected into holes drilled around the pit.”
However, both the company and the Japanese government clarified that efforts would continue to ensure that the leakage-point was sealed completely. It was also emphasised that the deliberate release of “low-radioactive water” into the Pacific Ocean continued for the third successive day.
The measure was aimed at using the freed-up space for securely storing highly-radioactive water within the plant premises.