Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Radioactive Smoke Leaks from Japan's Stricken Nuclear Plant

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Radioactive Smoke Leaks from Japan's Stricken Nuclear Plant

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Prigg Science Editor

FRESH fears of a major leak at Japan's stricken Fukushima plant emerged today as smoke thought to contain high levels of radiation was seen at two of its reactors. The "Fukushima Fifty," the key workers left at the plant, were temporarily pulled back as a precaution.

The smoke initially came from the spent fuel rod cooling pool at reactor number 3, but there were also reports of smoke at number 2 reactor.

Officials had been battling to control pressure inside the number 3 reactor, and had warned that an escape of radiation this time would be larger than previous releases because more nuclear fuel had degraded.

They said it could involve the emission of a cloud dense with iodine, as well as the radioactive elements krypton and xenon. Tokyo Electric Power Company spokesman Hiroshi Aizawa said it was investigating after the light grey smoke was seen rising from the fuel storage pool of unit 3.

The latest problem dashed hopes that safety at the plant had been brought under control. Workers have successfully connected power to all six reactors but so far have been unable to cool down the spent fuel pool.

After the smoke was seen, the spokesman said: "Due to this problem, the operator temporarily pulled out the workers, while checking on the condition of the site."

Earlier in the day, Japan's prime minister Naoto Kan said engineers were making "slow but steady progress" in dealing with the atomic crisis at the plant. Experts have managed to restore power to two reactors by laying emergency cables from nearby working power lines.

The Japanese government confirmed the Fukushima Daiichi complex will be scrapped once the disaster is contained, although experts say it could be a long and difficult process.

The government yesterday banned the sale of spinach from areas near Fukushima after tests revealed that it contained radioactive iodine 27 times above safety limits. …

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