The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the cover of a building housing the No.1 reactor has been damaged.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says a strong gust of wind moved a machine at around 8:30 AM Tuesday, creating a triangular shaped hole about 1 meter wide and 2 meters long.
TEPCO has been using machinery suspended from a crane to spray chemicals into holes. This is to prevent the dispersal of radioactive dust when dismantling the cover.
The operator says no significant changes in radiation levels were seen at the compound, but work has been suspended.
Officials say the wind speed at the time was about 7 kilometers per hour, which is well below the 36-kilometer-per-hour standard required to suspend work. They say a sudden gust may have moved the machinery.
TEPCO has notified the central and local governments and is considering what steps to take. Officials say they don’t know when work can resume, or whether this problem will affect Thursday’s plan to remove part of the cover on a trial basis.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says the levels of radioactive cesium in the compound’s groundwater at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant fluctuated greatly last week.
TEPCO detected the highest concentration of cesium in samples of water taken from 2 monitoring wells near a reactor building on Wednesday.
One well had 428,000 becquerels of cesium per liter of water, while the other contained 458,000 becquerels.
But only 2 days later, the reading in the first well had dropped to 5,200 becquerels, or one-eightieth of the level detected on Wednesday. The concentration in the other well stood at 470 becquerels, or about one-one-thousandth of the previous quantity.
TEPCO says these wells are connected underground with other wells that are highly contaminated. So the operator believes cesium poured into them with this month’s heavy rains and then flowed out with the underground water.
The utility says this problem cannot be fundamentally solved because the area around the wells thought to be the source of the contamination has extremely high radiation levels and cannot be decontaminated.
The 2 wells are among those from which tainted groundwater is pumped and discharged into the sea after being decontaminated.
But TEPCO has suspended the operation and is considering whether to resume the work.