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Clean-up suspended at Fukushima plant

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A picture of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant taken from the air after the March quake and tsunami.

The operator of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant has stopped the clean-up operation as radiation levels rose faster than expected.

“The level of radiation at a machine to absorb cesium has risen faster than our initial projections,” Reuters quoted a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) as saying on Saturday.

TEPCO started cleaning up radioactive water at the plant on Friday after engineers succeeded in fixing a series of glitches in the new clean-up system.

TEPCO officials warned on Friday that there will not be enough space at the plant to store more radioactive water by June 20 if they cannot remove the faults in the system.

Following Japan’s twin disasters of earthquake and tsunami in March, TEPCO pumped large amounts of water into three reactors where the cooling systems had stopped working.

The halt in the cooling systems operation sparked meltdowns, explosions and radiation leaks.

The new system, which employs French and US technology, is to be used to decontaminate the nearly 110,000 tons of highly radioactive water that is stored at the plant. The decontaminated water can be re-used to cool the reactors.

In early April, the utility dumped around 10,000 tons of water with low-level contamination into the ocean, drawing criticism from China and South Korea.


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