Fukushima 1: Unit 2 Fuel Rods Again Fully Exposed

15 March 2011, 01:05

Tokyo Electric Power announced that, at around 11 PM on the 14th, it became impossible to inject cooling water into the Unit 2 reactor of the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant, resulting in a precipitous decline of the water level, so Unit 2’s fuel rods probably became fully exposed again.  Also, around the perimeters of the Unit 2 premise, the level of radiation, as of 9:37 PM, exceeded six times the safety limit, the highest level so far, so the company alerted the government to the emergency.

According to Tokyo Electric Power, around 11 PM on the 14th, a vent to allow the gases from the reactor and to decrease the reactor pressure shut down at Unit 2 of the Fukushima 1 Nuclear Power Plant, leading to a higher level of pressure and making it impossible to inject water into the reactor.  Therefore, the water level declined precipitously, fully exposing Unit 2’s fuel rods again.

A pump to cool Unit 2 had stopped at 6:20 PM, interrupting seawater injection into the reactor and exposing the entirety of the fuel rods for 2 hours and 20 minutes thereafter, but later, the company was able to operate the pump again, managing to cover the fuel rods with water halfway by a little after 9:30 PM.

Tokyo Electric Power says that Unit 2 has a total of ten vents to release gases from the reactor, so it will use other vents to decrease the reactor pressure and try to inject seawater again to restore the water level.

Also, as the level of radiation around the premise of Unit 2 exceeded six times the safety standard, reaching the hitherto highest level of 3,130 microsievert per hour, the company alerted the national government to the emergency according to the “Article 15” notification requirement.

The original article was published by NHK.  Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi (@yoshiefuruhashi | yoshie.furuhashi [at] gmail.com).   古橋芳恵, “福島原発: チェルノブイリなら、20キロ圏では不十分” (12 March 2011); Yoshie Furuhashi, “An Appeal to All Foreign Embassy Personnel and International Media Present in Japan, regarding the Nuclear Disaster” (14 March 2011).

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