“Nearly a year after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sparked triple meltdowns at reactors here, the taming of Fukushima Daiichi has become in large part a quest to control water.
“Water is crucial to the continued safety and stability of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, even after reactor temperatures fell at the end of last year to a level at which little radioactivity is being emitted. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. is still injecting hundreds of thousands of gallons into the reactors every day to keep them from overheating again. Because that water and groundwater—now contaminated—is leaking out of the reactors at an estimated 10,000 tons a month, cleaning it up and storing the excess is a constant challenge.
“Tepco has to keep bathing the nuclear reactors in cooling water until the fuel is removed. And until Tepco can plug the leaks and cracks in reactor piping and buildings, contaminated water will keep welling out. Officials estimate it will take six years to plug the leaks and 25 to remove the fuel.”
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