Pressure vessel breached at Fukushima nuclear plant

17 May 2011

Posted by Michelle Devonshire

Damage was caused to a pressure vessel at the Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan during March.

The earthquake that struck the north-east of the country on March 11th this year caused widespread destruction and a tsunami, which interrupted power to the cooling systems at the plant.

As a result, Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), operator of the Fukushima Daichi facility, has revealed nuclear fuel rods in the reactors melted, causing radioactive material to leak from the site.

The fuel rods damaged the bottom of the pressure vessel in the reactor one building, a representative for the company explained, adding that the full impact of the partial meltdown on the site is still being assessed.

An evacuation zone around the plant has been widened by the Japanese Government as TEPCO continues work to stop the radioactive leaks, with the group admitting that similar damage may have occurred to pressure vessels in reactors two and three.

A spokeswoman for the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales recently warned that the nuclear fuel cycle causes the release of carbon dioxide during uranium mining, fuel enrichment and the building of power stations, making it a non-sustainable source of power that generates "long-lived toxic waste".

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