Workers at JapanÂ’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant continue to attempt to make use of the power now connected to all six units to begin reactivating the plantÂ’s cooling systems. During overnight efforts at Reactor #3 two workers were injured, but not exposed to radiation according to TEPCO.
Operators have been unable to stay in control rooms for extended periods due to lack of lighting, high radiation levels and power outages.Â Making repairs are even more difficult as several aftershocks hit the northeast Japan area, one of which measured a 6 on the Richter scale (some reports had it at as high as 6.6).Â But power is available, and workers are now able to maintain lighting and atmosphere control in the Fukushima control rooms.Â However, spikes in radiation and plumes of smoke periodically result in worker evacuations.
Workers were evacuated on Wednesday after dark smoke was seen rising from one of the reactors, the plant operator said.Â "The workers were pulled out of the control room of reactor number three," a TEPCO official told reporters, adding that the source of the smoke was unknown.
Now that power is physically connected to the Fukushima reactors, the next order of business is to assess the damage to the cooling water pumps and circulating system.Â It may be necessary to replace or overhaul significant portions of the system.Â Pumps in these systems are often larger than city buses, making replacement and repair a time-consuming business.Â These pumps and their major parts are not usually to be found sitting on the manufacturerÂ’s lot awaiting purchase.Â Actual activation of the various reactorsÂ’ cooling systems could be days or even weeks away.
The aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear crisis will be long in its resolution.Â It takes many years to decommission, demolish, clean up and dispose of a nuclear plant.Â It also takes billions of dollars.Â TEPCO and the Japanese government have both said that decommissioning and disposal will be the ultimate fate of the Dai-ichi nuclear complex.Â These costs are not yet included in the $300 billion plus estimates of the cost of the Â“Great Quake-Tsunami.Â”