Japan nuclear leaks could take months to halt

JAPAN’S government yesterday warned that it could take months to stem radiation leaks from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, as the plant’s operator said attempts to seal the latest reactor leak had so far failed.

A crack in the concrete pit at Fukushima’s number 2 reactor was confirmed at the weekend, and radiation readings remained high last night despite efforts to repair the fracture.

Meanwhile two nuclear plant workers were named as the first official deaths at Fukushima.

Speaking on national television, prime ministerial aid Goshi Hosono admitted that overheated nuclear rods at the plant still presented a crisis situation. “How long will it take to achieve (the goal of stopping the radiation leakage)? I think several months would be one target,” he said.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) yesterday said that General Electric had promised to help with supply generation in the coming months.

A Tepco spokesman said that GE, which helped build three of six reactors at the Fukushima plant, “would cooperate with Tepco on restarting and strengthening its thermal power generation”.