Japan Nuclear Plant Pumping Highly Radioactive Water
The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear plant began pumping highly radioactive water Tuesday from the basement of one of its buildings to a makeshift storage area in a crucial step toward easing the nuclear crisis.
Removing the 25,000 tons of contaminated water that has collected in the basement of a turbine building at Unit 2 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant will help allow access for workers trying to restore vital cooling systems that were knocked out in the March 11 tsunami.
It is but one of many steps in a lengthy process to resolve the crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Co. projected in a road map released over the weekend that it would take up to nine months to reach a cold shutdown of the plant. But government officials acknowledge that setbacks could slow the timeline.
The water will be removed in stages, with the first third of it to be handled over the coming 20 days, said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. In all, there are 70,000 tons of contaminated water to be removed from the plant's reactor and turbine buildings and nearby trenches, and the entire process could take months.
It has been over a month since the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit the coast of Sendai, Japan, and progress to restore the country has been made little by little. Pumping out the radioactive water from the nuclear plant is a huge leap forward, yet will take much patience and many more steps in order to obtain the most effective results.