The British newspaper The Guardian reported yesterday:
Water temperatures at Japan’s damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant have risen more than 20 degrees Celsius over the past week.
Concerns are growing in relation to conditions at the plant, in northeast Japan, which was declared in a state of cold shutdown in December last year.
Temperatures at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor have climbed to over 70 degrees Celsius, marking a rise of more than 20 degrees since the start of February.
Boric acid has been injected into the reactor by workers of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), operators of the plant, in order to prevent an accidental chain reaction.
The rate of cooling water injected into the unit was also increased as part of the plant workers’ attempts to stem the surge in temperatures in the reactor.
The government declared that the power plant was in a state of cold shutdown on December 16, nine months after a major earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis.
The next paragraph is a little puzzling:
Current temperatures remain lower than the 93 degree limit that is used to define cold shutdown at a nuclear reactor, although experts warned that further problems remained likely.
This is confusing. 93 degrees Celsius translates to 199 degrees Fahrenheit. Can water only slightly more than a dozen degrees below boiling really be reasonably described as cold shutdown? (Does that mean the current water temperature of 70 degrees Celsius could be described as ‘tepid’?)
And then, buried in the bottom of the article, is this little bombshell:
The temperature problems coincided with reports that the government is aiming to restart the first two nuclear reactors since last year’s nuclear crisis as early as April.
Two reactors at the Ohi plant in Fukui prefecture, western Japan, are expected to become the first to be restarted, shortly before the last active reactor in Japan is shut down for maintenance in late April, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.