Power restored at Japan′s stricken Fukushima nuclear plant | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 20.03.2013
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Power restored at Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant

Technicians have restored power to fuel storage pools at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant. A power outage had led to the failure of cooling systems, prompting fears of another nuclear catastrophe at the site.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) on Wednesday said it had restored power to all systems at the power plant.

Cooling equipment serving pools in which used nuclear fuel is stored became fully operational once again early on Wednesday local time, some 30 hours after power was cut late on Monday.

TEPCO stressed in a statement that the level of radiation in the area had remained at a safe level during the outage

The failure was believed to have been caused by a faulty power switchboard. Masayuki Ono, spokesman for TEPCO, said that a 15-centimeter (6-inch) rat was found dead near a switchboard and that it may be linked to the power failure, however more investigation is needed to be sure.

Used nuclear fuel can become highly dangerous if its temperature is allowed to rise to the level at which self-sustaining nuclear reactions take place.

The meltdown of three of Fukushima's six reactors occurred after an earthquake off the coast of Japan unleashed a tsunami in March, 2011 - shutting down power systems.

'No longer a risk'

The Japanese government claims that, two years after the disaster, the reactors are in a state of "cold shutdown," no longer releasing high levels of radiation. Tokyo on Tuesday had backed TEPCO over the power outage, saying there appeared to be no danger of an immediate crisis.

While pools serving three of the six reactors at the crippled power plant were affected, the company said, cooling operations on three reactors that underwent meltdowns had not been compromised.

TEPCO has been heavily criticized for its handling of the disaster two years ago, in particular its downplaying of the dangers posed. Since the tsunami paralyzed plant cooling and power systems, the operators have been using makeshift systems to prevent overheating.

rc/jlw (AFP, dpa)