Fukushima Reactor Barely Covered with Water … And Hydrogen Pressure and Temperature Are Fluctuating
NHK reports today that only 60 centimeters – or 23.62 inches – of water still cover the number 2 reactor:
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has found that the cooling water in one of the damaged reactors at Fukushima is only 60 centimeters deep, far lower than previously thought.
The utility confirmed the water level by inserting an endoscope into the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Monday.
TEPCO had thought that the water level was about 3 meters [i.e. almost 10 feet – 5 times as high as actually exists]. It has been injecting nearly 9 tons of water per hour into the reactor to cool the melted fuel that has fallen to the bottom of the containment vessel.
But the shallow level indicates that the water continues to leak into the reactor building through the suppression chambers under the vessel.
The low level suggests that decommissioning the reactor could be much more difficult. The operator may need to repair more parts of the containment vessel so it can be filled with water to block the strong radiation.
The No. 2 reactor’s containment vessel is believed to have been damaged on March 15th with the sudden loss of pressure inside the reactor.
There are other troubling data coming from unit 4. For example, hydrogen levels within the reactor have increased 500% in the last two weeks.
Temperatures have also fluctuated fairly dramatically within reactor 2 in recent weeks.