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Full Version: Japan’s Response to Reactor Crisis Delayed by Concern Over Asset Damage
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By John Viljoen - Mar 19, 2011 4:22 AM CT

Efforts to control Japan’s nuclear crisis were delayed by concerns over damaging valuable assets at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant and initial passivity from the Japanese government, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. was reluctant to use seawater to cool one of the six reactors at the plant and hesitated because it was concerned about harming its long-term investment in the plant, the Journal cited people involved with the response as saying.

Japan’s government waited more than a day to order seawater flooding at the plant after waves generated by the largest earthquake ever recorded in Japan knocked out power for cooling systems, allowing heat to build to dangerous levels within the reactor chamber. Tepco, as the utility is known, earlier refrained from using seawater because it would corrode metal and render the reactor useless.

“I’m aware there are many criticisms, and rightly so,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said today in response to a question about the Journal report. “We did our best during the whole process, and we aren’t at a stage where we can make any judgment on that.”

Pumping Restarts
Troops and firefighters again started pumping seawater on the plant today in an attempt to prevent fuel rods from overheating, as Tepco cautioned the tsunami-damaged cooling systems may not work even after electricity is restored. Weather forecasts indicated changing winds could start moving radiation closer to Tokyo this weekend.

“What we need to do now is to make sure that the situation doesn’t get any worse,” Edano said today at a press briefing in Tokyo. “At this point, we are dealing with the current situation.”

Other delays also plagued Japan’s response to the nuclear emergency, according to the Journal report. The nation’s Self- Defense Forces didn’t take a hand in efforts to cool reactors at the plant until March 16, by which time four of the six reactors there were damaged and two others may have begun overheating, it said.

Missed Deadline
Engineers today missed a deadline to restore power to the crippled plant, prolonging efforts to prevent more radiation leaks. People living within 30 kilometers (19 miles) of the Fukushima plant along the northeastern coast should wear masks and long sleeves and stay out of the rain, Japan’s nuclear safety agency said today.

Tepco pushed back its target to reconnect a power cable to the No. 2 reactor to later today after working through the night. Power may be restored to all six reactors by tomorrow, Hikaru Kuroda, chief of the utility’s nuclear facility management department, told a briefing in Tokyo.

There’s a “possibility” water pumps damaged by the quake and tsunami, may not work once power is restored and the situation “does not allow optimism,” Kuroda said yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: John Viljoen at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Langan at
and on a side note

Japan earthquake survivor pulled out alive EIGHT days later
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