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Fukushima Meltdown Mitigation Aims to Prevent Radioactive Flood via Scientific American

Three months after its meltdown, the stricken nuclear power plant continues to struggle to cool its nuclear fuel–and cope with growing amounts of radioactive cooling water

By David Biello | June 24, 2011 | 20

fuksuhima-water-tanks

HOLDING TANKS: Tanks hold some of the radioactive water overflowing from cooling efforts at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Image: Courtesy of TEPCO

Supplemental Material

  • MP3 file Audio What Does the Fukushima Meltdown Mean for U.S. Reactors?

More than three months after a powerful earthquake and 14-meter-high tsunami struck Japan, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains flooded with a salty mix of ocean and fresh water that is contaminated with the radioactive residue of three reactors and four spent fuel pools’ worth of nuclear fuel. Every day an additional 500 metric tons of seawater is poured onto the still hot nuclear fuel in the stricken reactors and fuel pools. More than 100,000 metric tons of such water now sits in the basement and trenches of the reactors—or evaporates inside the hot reactor buildings, making for a radioactive onsen (hot bath).

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