Officials detected radioactive xenon, a gas associated with nuclear fission at Japan’s tsunami-damaged atomic power plant on Wednesday, indicating there could be a new problem at one of its reactors. They have injected boric acid, a substance that neutralizes nuclear reactions, as a precaution.
Gas from inside the reactor indicated the presence of radioactive xenon, which could be the by-product of unexpected nuclear fission. Boric acid was being injected through a cooling pipe as a countermeasure because it can counteract nuclear reactions.
The latest setback comes as TEPCO had reported significant progress toward stabilizing the plant. TEPCO says it has essentially reached a “cold shutdown” of the plant, meaning the temperatures at the reactors are constant and under control. Even so, a Japanese government panel says it will take at least 30 years to safely decommission the facility.
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