Workers Flee Japan Nuclear Plant As Smoke Rises
AP/The Huffington Post ERIC TALMADGE and MARI YAMAGUCHI First Posted: 03/21/11 06:20 PM Updated: 03/22/11 08:50 AM
FUKUSHIMA, Japan — Officials raced Monday to restore electricity to Japan’s leaking nuclear plant, but getting the power flowing will hardly be the end of their battle: With its mangled machinery and partly melted reactor cores, bringing the complex under control is a monstrous job that is anything but a quick-fix.
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Restoring the power to all six units at the tsunami-damaged complex is key, because it will, in theory, power up the maze of motors, valves and switches that help deliver cooling water to the overheated reactor cores and spent fuel pools that are leaking radiation.
Ideally, officials believe it should only take a day to get the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear under control once the cooling system is up and running. In reality, the effort to end the crisis is likely to take weeks.
Late Monday night, the deputy director general of Japan’s nuclear safety body suggested to reporters why there is so much uncertainty about when the job will be finished.
“We have experienced a very huge disaster that has caused very large damage at a nuclear power generation plant on a scale that we had not expected,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
The nuclear plant’s cooling systems were wrecked by the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan on March 11. Since then, conditions at the plant have been volatile; a plume of smoke rose from two reactor units Monday, prompting workers to evacuate.