After reactor temperatures spiked over the past week, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has begun injecting boric acid into the Number 2 reactor at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in an effort to prevent an accidental chain reaction known as recriticality.
Boric acid is used by the nuclear industry to slow down the rate at which nuclear fission is occurring within a reactor by absorbing the neutrons that fuel the fission process.
Since February 1st, temperatures at the bottom of the Number 2 reactor have risen by more than 20 degrees Celsius, according to company data. The rising temperatures suggests that fission is once again occurring within the reactor.
TEPCO found a total of 28 water leaks between January 28th and February 3rd, according to the utility. These, according to officials, were mainly caused by ruptures due to freezing external temperatures.
According to TEPCO officials, this latest round of radiation leaks have been deemed as “tiny”.
TEPCO and the Japanese government announced that the Fukushima plant reached a cold shutdown on December 16th, 2011, nine months after the Tohoku earthquake and resultant tsunami wrecked the nuclear facility and caused three of the plant’s reactors to meltdown and release radiation into the atmosphere.
The irony is that all this is occurring while the Japanese government is attempting to achieve a consensus to re-start many of the country’s idle nuclear reactors before the summer power crunch.