New thermometer monitors nuclear pressure vessels

05 October 2012

Posted by Satvir Bhullar

In the wake of the meltdown at the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, last year, a device has been placed within a reactor in order to monitor the condition of pressure vessels damaged in the crisis.

The incident, which occurred in the wake of damage caused by devastating earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan in March 2011, resulted in breaches to pressure vessels after the nuclear core overheated.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the company in charge of the Fukushima Daiichi power station, has invested in a new thermometer in a bid to prevent similar problems from occurring in the future.

The gadget is designed to provide more information about the status of melted uranium fuel in the number two reactor at the site, ensuring the temperature within pressure vessels remains in cold shutdown.

The thermometer was inserted around ten metres inside the containment vessel and has been described as functioning.

Gauges already in place in other reactors at the site are still in working order, but the number two reactor experienced a number of failures of thermometers after the meltdown.

The new device brings the number of working thermometers at the bottom of the pressure vessel to two, supporting data already being collected by the remaining functioning gauge.

In its latest update on the continuing effects of the March 11th 2011 earthquake, TEPCO stated: "We deeply apologize for the anxiety and inconvenience caused."

It explained that radiation doses in the area of the Fukushima Daiichi plant are "in steady decline" and "release of radioactive materials is under control and radiation doses are being significantly held down", meeting two targets set in a roadmap towards restoration from the accident.

The company is now working towards the decommissioning of the facility and enabling those evacuated from the area following the disaster to return to their homes.

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