By Alexander Martin: Fukushima Watch: Tepco Drains Water During Typhoon!
As typhoon Man-yi swept through northeastern Japan on Monday, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant said it had drained some of the water accumulated during the heavy rainfall, adding that the radiation levels of the water were within national safety limits. The large typhoon has already battered Japan's main island, flooded rivers, damaging buildings and forcing tens of thousands to evacuate. Hundreds of flights and trains have been cancelled and at least one person has died, according to local media reports. Tokyo Electric Power Co. said in a news release that it had drained water accumulated at seven locations between tanks holding contaminated water at the plant and barriers put up to stop any leaks of the water flowing into the sea. The plant operator is fighting a constant battle to find sufficient reliable storage space for an ever-increasing amount of water contaminated in the process of cooling the plant's melted reactor cores. A string of recent leaks has raised concerns about the utility's ability to stop contaminated water from reaching the sea and prompted the government to step in and offer help. While the drained water will reach the sea, the utility said radiation levels of strontium were below the safety level of 30 becquerels per liter. Earlier, Tepco workers at the plant had prepared for the typhoon by weighing down cranes so that the typhoon's strong winds wouldn't topple them while tying down other equipment including pipes and pumps. There were no other reports of action needed at Fukushima, likely calming any lingering fears that the typhoon might cause problems at the plant. As of Monday evening, Man-yi was passing through Iwate and Aomori prefectures in northern Japan, heading northeast at a speed of 70 kilometers an hour with winds up to 35 meters a second, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. Public broadcaster NHK said so far one person had died, one was in critical condition and four people were missing as a result of the typhoon. It said 124 people have suffered injuries. Strong winds destroyed five homes in Saitama Prefecture, while 18 houses have been destroyed in Obama, Fukui prefecture, where heavy flooding swamped the city. Special warnings of "unprecedented heavy rain" issued for the western prefectures of Fukui, Kyoto and Shiga were all lifted before noon, although the torrential rain had left areas near major rivers inundated. To respond to the natural disaster, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe set up an information-gathering team within the government's crisis-management center Monday. Man-yi is expected to reach waters off the northeastern coast of Sanriku by Monday night, the JMA said. NHK said most domestic flight services that were canceled Monday were canceled Monday were expected to resume operations Tuesday.