London, Mar 20: Power has been restored to all fuel pond cooling systems at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, operator Tepco has said.
A power cut shut down cooling systems for four spent fuel ponds at reactors 1, 3 and 4 on Monday evening, although cooling to the reactors themselves was not affected, reports BBC News.
Tepco said all cooling systems were operational by early Wednesday morning. Pool temperatures remained within safe levels throughout, it added.
In 2011, the world looked on aghast as emergency teams struggled to shut down Japan’s three troubled nuclear reactors at Fukushima, after an earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant on Mar h 11.
International experts were already warning that the real threat came from the vast quantities of used fuel stored in enormous cooling ponds on site.
Most nuclear reactors worldwide need to let their used fuel cool for at least five years before they do anything with it. Even if the waste is subsequently reprocessed, the plutonium retrieved has to be guarded because of its attractiveness to nuclear bomb-makers.
The IAEA estimates that by 2020 the total amount of spent nuclear fuel worldwide will have reached 440,000 tonnes and three-quarters of it will be in storage, often at the reactor sites, and requiring monitoring, safeguarding and protection.
There are more than 430 reactors worldwide but so far no country has developed a long-term underground disposal facility to house the deadly waste for the millennia to come. It appears as if much of the world’s nuclear waste will remain on or near the surface and vulnerable to unforeseen calamities.
The cause of the power failure was still being investigated, as Tepco had made restoring power the priority, spokesman Masayuki Ono said.
Ono said that a faulty power switchboard could have caused the power outage. He added that it was the first time so many facilities had been affected by electrical failure at the same time since the plant was brought under control in December 2011. (ANI)