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UPDATE1: Radioactive reactor equipment may be exposed at Fukushima plant.

TOKYO, June 19 Kyodo

Highly radioactive equipment removed from and kept under water near a suspended reactor at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be partly exposed and emitting radiation into the air, officials of the plant operator said Sunday.

Although Tokyo Electric Power Co. says the radiation level is not particularly high around the building of the No. 4 reactor, which was suspended for regular inspection when it lost cooling functions in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, it is not monitored near the equipment, calling for antiradiation measures when work is required at the site.

Since a pool containing nuclear fuel that had been taken out of the reactor cannot be cooled, water is evaporating and causing a pit connected to it to also lose water with equipment including a shroud to adjust the flow of coolant water and steam dryer inside.

The 7.6 meter-deep pit contains water, which shields against radiation, only up to 2.5 meters and the highly radioactive part of the shroud, that was originally 6.8 meters in height but has been cut to fit in the pit, may be exposed to the air, the officials said.

The utility known as TEPCO said, meanwhile, it plans to release air possibly containing low levels of radioactive substances from the No. 2 reactor building later Sunday by opening the doors gradually from 8 p.m. through around 4 a.m. Monday.

The step, which will last eight hours to prevent the stirring up of dust containing toxic materials, is aimed at lowering the over 99 percent humidity inside to enable work to be conducted there, it said, denying that the move will have an impact on the environment.

After the venting, TEPCO will start injecting nitrogen into the reactor to prevent a hydrogen explosion and adjusting measuring equipment, it said.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Date:Jun 20, 2011
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