Fukushima worker accidentally switches off the crippled nuclear plant’s cooling systems in latest blunder
- Worker accidentally pushed button cutting power to water pumps
- Hundreds of tonnes of water must be injected into reactors every day
- Japan’s nuclear regulator said backup system kicked in immediately
- Over 300 tonnes of contaminated water have leaked in last three months
- That is on top of 300 tonnes of groundwater seeping into Pacific every day
A worker at the Fukushima nuclear plant accidentally pushed a button turning off power to the four badly damaged reactors yesterday.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority said that a worker carrying out inspections had turned off pumps injecting cooling water into the unstable reactors.
The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, or Tepco, pours hundreds of tonnes of water a day over the reactors to keep them cool after a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 triggered meltdowns and explosions.
Despite the employee’s blunder, officials say a backup system kicked in immediately.
It is just the latest in a string of worrying mishaps which reveal just how vulnerable the power plant still is, two years on from the disaster.
Earlier this year, Tepco lost power to cool spent uranium fuel rods at the plant after a rat tripped an electrical wire.
And just last week the company also found that 430 litres of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of the hastily built storage tanks.
The tank lacked a gauge designed to warn people when it is dangerously full, meaning workers overfilled it.
TEPCO said the water spilled out of a concrete barrier surrounding the tank and believed that most of it reached the sea via a ditch next to the river.
A further 300 tonnes of contaminated water leaked into the ocean back in August, which is on top of the 300 tonnes of groundwater which the company admitted could be seeping into the ocean per day.
Japan’s government stepped up support for the embattled utility last month, pledging half a billion dollars to help contain contaminated water.