TOKYO >> The operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Monday that two seismometers in one of its three melted reactors had been out of order since last year and had not collected data when the powerful earthquake hit the area earlier this month.
The recognition raised new questions about whether the company’s risk management has improved after a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed much of the plant.
The faulty seismometers emerged during a meeting of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority on Monday to discuss new damage to the plant as a result of a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that struck the area on February 13th. The cooling water levels and pressure dropped in reactors of Units 1
The operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. he has been repeatedly criticized for covering up and delaying the disclosure of problems at the plant.
At the meeting, regulators asked TEPCO why there was no seismological data from the Unit 3 reactor on Saturday’s earthquake, and utility officials admitted that both of its seismometers had broken down – one in July and the other in October – and never was. repaired.
TEPCO also said that the seismometers of all but two of the reactor buildings that survived in 2011 were submerged by tsunami water and were never replaced.
During Monday’s meeting, regulators said they were concerned about declining water levels and pressure in the primary detention chambers of Units 1 and 3 due to the possibility that the earthquake would expand existing damage or open new leakage routes, and called on the plant to close closely check for elevated groundwater radiation levels around the reactor buildings.
TEPCO said no anomalies had been found in the water samples so far.
The new damage can further complicate the already difficult decommissioning process and add to the large amounts of contaminated water stored at the plant.
Since the catastrophe in 2011, the cooling water has been constantly flowing from the damaged primary containment vessels in the basements of the reactor and turbine buildings, where the volume increases with the penetration of groundwater. The water is pumped and purified, after which part of it is reused as cooling water, while the rest is stored in about 1000 tanks.
TEPCO initially said there were no anomalies at the plant from Saturday’s quake. But on Monday, about 20 of the tanks were said to have slipped slightly due to the quake, the radioactive waste storage container tilted and the plant’s asphalt pavement cracked.