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Workers enter Fukushima No.1 reactor

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A view of the Fukushima nuclear power plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

For the first time since the outbreak of Japan’s nuclear crisis, workers have been able to enter the quake and tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

On Thursday, Japanese workers entered the reactor No.1 at the battered Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the facility’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said.

A destructive 9-magnitude earthquake and an ensuing tsunami struck Japan’s northern coasts on March 11, setting off a nuclear crisis by knocking out power to cooling systems of reactors at the Fukushima plant and causing radioactive leaks.

TEPCO has since been struggling to stop the radiation from the plant’s damaged reactors.

The workers installed eight pipes connected to a ventilating device at the adjacent turbine building as part of efforts to reduce the level of radioactive contamination inside the reactor by circulating air through a filter on the device, TEPCO said.

The move is aimed at preventing workers from suffering internal radiation exposure when they work in the reactor.

The company announced in April that it would manage to reduce radiation leaks from the Fukushima plant within three months and also to cool reactors and control the radiation within six to nine months.

In April, Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised the severity level of the situation at Fukushima from 5 to 7 — the worst on an international scale.

According to the agency, the amount of radiation emissions at the Fukushima plant was equivalent to 10 percent of that in the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

An explosion and ensuing fire in the Chernobyl nuclear power plant resulted in a severe release of radioactivity into the environment, which claimed the lives of at least 4,000 people.


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