Japan: nitrogen injected into nuclear reactor to avoid hydrogen explosion

April 7th, 2011 - 7:22 pm ICT by BNO News  

TOKYO (BNO NEWS) — The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) on Thursday said it had successfully injected nitrogen into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s No. 1 reactor in its effort to reduce the risk of another hydrogen explosion.

According to Tepco, around 6,000 cubic meters of nitrogen will be injected into the No.1 reactor in a six-day operation, and Thursday’s first operation of injecting 200 cubic meters was successful as the reactor’s containment vessel pressure rose as expected.

Following the operation, Tepco and Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said another hydrogen explosion or the emission of high volumes of radioactive substances would be unlikely.

However, the plant operator continued to warn of possible increasing leaks of radioactive material.

Meanwhile, Tepco has continued to dump low-level radiation water into the Pacific Ocean, causing national and international concern over its environmental consequences. The plant operator is making room to store high-level radiation water.

On Wednesday, Tepco was able to stop the outflow of highly radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean with the use of sodium silicate, which was injected into a pit near the No. 2 reactor to stop the leak. The gel-like substance was poured on the areas supporting the leaking pipe.

Parts of northeastern Japan were devastated by an enormous 9.0-magnitude earthquake off its coast on March 11, generating a large tsunami that struck nearby coastlines and caused the ongoing nuclear crisis.

As of last week, the disaster’s death toll stood at 11,734 in 12 prefectures while the number of reported missing people totaled 16,375 in six prefectures. Many of the unaccounted people are believed to have been carried offshore after the tsunami.

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