Aftershocks prompt precautions at Fukushima

15 April 2011

Efforts are being made to maintain the power supply and cooling functions at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant in the event that another strong earthquake and tsunami strikes the plant. The precautionary move comes as initial compensation payments are offered to evacuated nearby residents.
The plant was struck by a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake on 11 March. The offshore quake triggered a tsunami, which measured some 14 metres in height when it hit the plant about one hour after the earthquake. The tsunami disabled emergency power generators and heat removal pumps at Fukushima Daiichi. The loss of these systems left units 1, 2 and 3 - the only reactors in operation at that time at the six-unit plant - in severe trouble and resulted in a significant release of radiation. The reactors have subsequently been cooled through the injection of water. Some used fuel ponds at the site also remain a serious concern and spraying to maintain water levels is ongoing.



Fukushima - tsunami (Tepco)
A photo released by Tepco shows the Fukushima Daini plant inundated by the 11 March tsunami

Following a series of aftershocks - some as great as magnitude 7 - plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has said that workers at the plant are moving emergency diesel generators and the pump control switch panel to higher ground, over 20 metres above sea level. Back-up power trucks and fire engines have been brought to the plant, should those currently being used be lost in another tsunami.
Tepco said that work is in progress to reconnect two grid power lines to units 1 to 4 of the plant, to act as back-ups if the current connections fail. The company is also considering setting up a second system, utilizing temporary storage tanks, for pumping water into the reactors.
Compensation payments


Tepco said that it has been instructed by the Japanese government's Economic Damage Response Headquarters to commence making initial compensation payments to the people forced to evacuate the 20 kilometre area around the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant. Those living between 20km and 30km from the plant, who were advised to remain indoors, will also receive payments.
The company said that it will pay ¥1 million ($12,000) per family household or ¥750,000 ($9000) per individual household, as required by the government’s instruction. Over 170,000 residents have been evacuated from within 20km of Fukushima Daini and Daiichi nuclear power plants. Although none of the public has received harmful doses of radiation, it is not yet known when they will be able to return to their homes.
Tepco will today start holding information sessions and distributing application forms for the compensation payments at such as places as evacuation centres.
The company noted that it plans to establish the Fukushima Nuclear Compensation Office on 28 April. The office will be the dedicated contact point for matters related to the damages caused by the nuclear accident, as well as the initial compensation payments.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News