March 19, 2013 - 17:48 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Power has been restored to two fuel storage pools at Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear plant, but two others are still without fresh cooling water after nearly 20 hours, raising concerns about the fragility of a facility that still runs on makeshift equipment.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that pool temperatures at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant were well within safe levels, and that pools would remain safe for at least four days without fresh cooling water. The utility said the reactors were unaffected and no other abnormalities were found.
The cooling system was restored at two of the four pools by Tuesday, March 19 evening, and the systems for the two other pools were to resume by Wednesday morning as workers complete repairs and try to determine the cause of the problem, TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told reporters.
"We now have better prospects for cooling to resume," he said.
About 50 workers in hazmat suits and full-face masks were mobilized to fix cabling that involved the last of the three switchboards that they suspect as a possible cause of the problem. The utility was also preparing a backup system in case the repairs didn't fix the issue and "the worse comes to worst," Ono said.
Japan's March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant's power and cooling systems, causing three reactor cores to melt and fuel storage pools to overheat.
The current power outage is a test for TEPCO to show if it has learned anything from the disaster. TEPCO, which has repeatedly faced cover-up scandals, was slammed by local media Tuesday for waiting hours to disclose the blackout.