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May 12, 2021

Japanese plant operators brace for continuing aftershocks

TOKYO – The operators of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant say they are moving equipment to higher ground after a series of strong aftershocks that have hampered efforts to repair the crippled facility, Voice of America informs. The latest strong tremor came at about 6 a.m. local time Thurs­day, with a magnitude of 6.1. It was the fourth aftershock since Mon­day with a magnitude of 6 or greater and the 14th with a magnitude greater than 5. Hundreds of aftershocks have rattled Japan’s northeastern coast since the massive 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that knocked out the plant’s cooling systems.

Officials with the Tokyo Elec­tric Power Company said Thursday they are reinforcing connections to the national electrical grid to make sure they have power to pump water into the plant’s reactors and cooling ponds. A spokesman said generators and other equipment are being moved to higher ground to protect against another tsunami. Workers at the plant are also seeking a way to remove spent fuel rods from a storage pond at the plant’s number four reactor, where elevated radiation levels have been detected in the water. Officials said Wednesday that the radiation levels suggest that some of the rods have been damaged, though most are likely intact. Technicians managed to pump more than 250 tons of highly radioactive water out of a tunnel next to another of the plant’s reactors.

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