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Water, rats, outages: Japan nuke plant precarious

AP/ April 10, 2013, 9:33 PM

TOKYO A rat causing a power outage by short-circuiting a temporary switchboard. Another blackout occurring as workers install anti-rat nets. Holes in the linings of huge underground tanks leaking radioactive water.

Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has run into multiple problems recently that highlight its precarious state more than two years after its reactors melted down in the wake of a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

A makeshift system of pipes, tanks and power cables meant to carry cooling water into the melted reactors and spent fuel pools inside shattered buildings remains highly vulnerable, Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman Shunichi Tanaka acknowledged Wednesday.

"Fukushima Dai-ichi is still in an extremely unstable condition, there is no mistake about that," Tanaka said at a weekly meeting of the regulatory body's leaders. "We cannot rule out the possibility that similar problems might occur again. Whenever a problem occurs, it halts the plant's operations and delays the primary goal of decommissioning the plant."

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