Japan cleanup of radioactive water hits snag

June 17, 2011 06:47

TOKYO - Japan's crisis-hit nuclear power plant could spill more radioactive water into the sea within a week unless engineers can fix a glitch in a new system to clean up pools of contaminated water, officials said.

Tokyo Electric Power Co , known as Tepco, has pumped massive amounts of water to cool three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which had meltdowns after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disabled cooling systems.

But managing the radioactive water has become a major headache as the plant runs out of places to keep it. Around 110,000 tonnes of highly radioactive water -- enough to fill 40 Olympic-size swimming pools -- is stored at the plant.

Tepco, with help from French nuclear group Areva , U.S. firm Kurion and other companies, has been test-running a system in which radioactive water is decontaminated and re-used to cool the reactors.

In a setback, it said water had leaked from a facility used to absorb cesium on Thursday, but it hoped to replace equipment and start the decontamination process by the end of Friday as planned.

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