Monday, April 4, 2011

Japan nuclear crisis: workers using newspaper and sawdust to block pipes

Japanese workers battling to stop a radioactive water leak into the Pacific from the beleaguered nuclear power plant have resorted to using newspaper and sawdust to try and block the pipes.

TEPCO workers were using a polymer mixed with shredded paper and sawdust to try to close off pipes through which the water has flowed into a cracked concrete pit at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, from where it has run into the sea. An earlier attempt to seal the crack with cement failed to stop the leak.

"From the afternoon, the workers began pouring polymeric powder, sawdust, newspaper - things we could think of to clog up the holes," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency.

"So far, there has not been any clear indication that the volume of leaking water has been reduced."

Officials attempted attempting to seal the recently discovered crack located in a concrete pit near Reactor Two. It followed failed attempts to use concrete to close the crack, which is believed to have led to radiation leakage into run-off water that then flows into the sea. The latest samples of contaminated seawater show radiation levels at 4,000 times the legal level.

There was no difference in the amount of water running out after they poured cement into the pit," said a nuclear safety agency official. "Tepco needs to take steps to stop the leak once and for all." (read more)