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Water Leak Inside Japan Nuke Plant

July 24, 2000

TOKYO (AP) _ A small amount of radioactive water leaked at a nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, but injured no one and did not escape from the facility, the plant’s operator said Monday.

The leakage occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Okuma, a town of 10,900 on the Pacific coast in Fukushima state, 150 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Yoshimi Hitosugi, spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., said plant workers found 40 gallons of radioactive water that had leaked near the plant’s No. 2 reactor late Sunday. The discovery came an hour after the reactor was manually shut down because of an oil leak.

``No one was injured and nothing radioactive leaked outside the plant,″ Hitosugi said.

Plant officials later determined the radioactive water leaked from a joint in a pipe linked to the hydraulic pressure system for controlling rods, utility official Kazuyoshi Takahara said.

Officials initially noticed an alarm indicating the lowering of oil levels inside the tank in the turbine facility Sunday evening, Hitosugi said. The oil leak was stopped after officials closed the valve supplying oil to control the turbine, he said.

Takahara said officials investigating the leakages discovered a minor fissure on the surface of an oil pipe near a turbine valve. About 80 gallons of leaked oil were recovered from the floor, he said.

Plant officials were still investigating whether the fissure resulted from a recent strong earthquake in the Pacific, Takahara said.

On Friday, the No. 6 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant was shut down after a leak of waste gas was detected in a tank where steam used to power the turbines was turned back into water.

No leak of radioactive material was reported at the No. 6 reactor, which was shut down as a cautionary measure after a 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of eastern Japan.

The plant has six reactors.

Japan has an aggressive nuclear power program, as the resource-poor nation depends on nuclear energy for a third of its electricity.

Public faith was shaken, however, by the nation’s worst nuclear accident Sept. 30 at a fuel-processing plant in Tokaimura, 70 miles northeast of Tokyo, which took the lives of two workers and seriously injured a third.

Dozens of people are believed to have been exposed to less harmful radiation in the accident that set off an uncontrolled atomic reaction.

Update hourly