Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Seawater damage to reactors worse than thought, official says

Reactors 1 and 2 at Japan's earthquake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered more damage from seawater than originally believed and will take more time to repair, the plant's owner said Tuesday.

The tsunami that followed the 9.0-magnitude earthquake March 11 damaged electrical components and coolant pumps in units No. 1 and 2. Those are two of the three units now believed to have suffered damage to their reactor cores, said Sakae Muto, vice president of the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Reactor No. 2 suffered more damage than No. 1, and the earliest those parts can be replaced is Wednesday, Muto said. The cause of the damage was unclear, but seawater was pumped in previously to cool the reactors as an emergency measure after the earthquake.

Reactors No. 3 and 4 were still being evaluated to determine which parts need repair or replacement, he said. The first priority is to work on the lighting and air conditioning in the central control room so crews can work from inside and gather further data.

Efforts to restore power at the Fukushima Daiichi plant -- a key step that officials hope will allow them to bring cooling systems back online -- were ongoing. Earlier Tuesday, a faint trail of white smoke could be seen rising over the damaged nuclear plant. (read more)