Japan plans new tsunami wall at nuclear plant

The operator of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant will build a wall to defend it against future tsunamis, reports said on Monday, as public confidence slipped in the government’s handling of the disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) also plans to triple from about 1 000 to 3 000 the number of staff nuclear workers and subcontractors handling the crisis to reduce each individual’s radiation exposure.

Emergency crew have been battling for eight weeks to stabilise the six-reactor plant which was damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami, and which has since been hit by explosions, leaking radiation.

Confidence has slipped among voters in the handling of the wider disaster by the centre-left government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan, according to a nationwide telephone poll by the mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun daily.

The survey showed 55% of respondents expressed reservations about how the government was dealing with the crisis, while 27% were hopeful about the efforts, according to the poll of more than 3 000 people on April 23 and April 24.

In order to guard the plant against future quakes and tsunamis, Tepco plans to build a wall about 2m high and 500m long, made of rocks contained by wire mesh, said reports citing Tepco officials.

The wall would be built at a height of about 10m above sea level and be designed to resist a wave generated by an 8-magnitude quake — smaller than the monster wave triggered by the 9-magnitude quake in March.

Tepco will also set up air ventilation machines with filters at the reactor one turbine building in order to pave the way for workers to re-enter the site where radiation is now too high, reports said.

The operator also said it plans to hire more staff with training in the nuclear industry to share the burden, and the radiation exposure, of the roughly 1 000 workers currently tackling the crisis.

Japan raised the maximum exposure level for male nuclear emergency workers to 250 millisieverts a year, up from 100 millisieverts previously, amid the current atomic crisis, the world’s worst since Chernobyl 25 years ago. — AFP

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