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Partial power outage at Fukushima plant, water release suspended

TOKYO (AFP) – The release of treated wastewater into the ocean from Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant was suspended yesterday as a partial power outage affected the site, operator The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said.

TEPCO said in a statement that the system to cool reactors remained operational and “no meaningful change” had been detected at plant facilities that monitor radioactivity.

“At around 10.43am (0143 GMT), electricity source line A stopped,” yesterday’s TEPCO statement said without giving details. The release of water treated through a filtration process called ALPS also stopped at the same time, it said.

TEPCO added that a worker had been injured during an excavation operation.

An inspection later found the worker was near an electric circuit when the incident occurred.

“Therefore, it is assumed that the worker damaged the cable during excavation work,” the company said in a statement.

Earlier, a TEPCO spokesman told AFP that “there seems to be a link between this electricity loss and suspension of the ALPS operation”.

“We are trying to figure out” a potential link between the injury and the electricity loss, he said.

The worker was conscious and not contaminated, but was seen by an on-site doctor and an ambulance was called.

Last year, Japan began releasing treated wastewater from the plant into the Pacific Ocean.

The facility was running out of space to build more water tanks, and TEPCO needed to clear the area for the much more hazardous task of removing radioactive fuel and rubble from three stricken reactors.

Tanks used for storing treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma, Japan. PHOTO: AFP