TEPCO has announced that it will strengthen defenses at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant against any future earthquakes and triple the size of the available labor force to limit workers' radiation exposure. Yet this facility is highly radioactive with the potential to continue to dump radioactive isotopes into the air and ocean.
TEPCO is taking a number of steps to guard against a new earthquake of up to magnitude 8. The original March 11 quake was calculated at magnitude 9, one of the most powerful ever recorded. A one-digit increase in magnitude on the Richter scale represents a 10-fold increase in intensity. In its plan, the utility will build a 6½-foot wall on the southeastern side of the Daiichi site, which is about 33 feet above sea level. This would block a 33-foot tsunami, which projections say could be made by a magnitude-8 quake.
Tepco also plans to seal one of the two ditches near the sea with concrete to prevent radiation-contaminated water in the trenches from overflowing into the ocean. Tepco expects to complete the wall by mid-June and sealing by the end of May, a spokesman said. The company didn't specify the cost.
The utility also said it was preparing to triple the size of the available work force to 3,000 people through recruitment of those with experience in the nuclear-power sector. At present, approximately 1,000 employees and subcontractors are working in a dangerous environment to try to bring the damaged reactors to a safe condition.
An opinion poll by Kyodo News on Saturday showed that 76% of respondents said Mr. Kan isn't exercising sufficient leadership in dealing with the situation, a rise from 63.7% in a previous poll in late March. The telephone survey, conducted Friday and Saturday, also showed 23.6% of the respondents think Mr. Kan should resign immediately, up from 13.8% in the previous survey. (WSJ, 5/1/2011)