Thursday, April 13, 2006

 

Water with radioactive materials leaked but kept inside the plant

JNFL reported April 12 to the prefectural government that there was a leak, in the early morning of April 11, at a water tank inside the nuclear fuels reprocessing plant. The tank is to rinse hulls (shredded fuel rods) after the enclosed nuclear materials are dissolved by nitric acid. The water leaked has slight amount of radioactive materials that is moved from the dissolution vessel. 40 litres leaked water had been kept in a "cell" (a chamber sealled by one-meter-thick concrete walls) and recovered properly. JNFL said there is no risks of radioactive impact to the environment, nor any occupational dose.
The leak was occurred when a worker was to take a plug off a pipe of the tank, to connect a flexible metal hose to a connection attachment set on the pipe, to transfer the rinsing water to another tank (water buffer tank). The worker mistakenly take off the plug and the attachment altogether, then the rinsing water spilled out through the pipe over the tray, and was collected in a vessel inside the cell. The tray and the vessel were designed for such an incident.
Ministry of Economy's nuclear safety arm, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA, issued a statement to the Japanese press, saying that the incident was not the one which imposes a risk on the environment or human, and according to the law the operator JNFL was not even required to notice about such an event to the regulator. NISA also added JNFL may need to improve the operating system if appropriate and necessary.
Here in Aomori Prefecture, and in Rokkasho-mura Village, people accepted the news in a very calm manner.

JNFL announced in the press release, the leaked water contained approximately 6.5 g/litre of Uranium, and 0.025 g/litre of Plutonium.
The place of the leakage can be seen on JNFL website.





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