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Fukushima employee accidentally switches off cooling pumps

Published time: October 07, 2013 10:50
Edited time: October 08, 2013 09:22
 This handout picture taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on August 22, 2013 shows a TEPCO worker checking radiation levelS around a contaminated water tank at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. (AFP/TEPCO)

This handout picture taken by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on August 22, 2013 shows a TEPCO worker checking radiation levelS around a contaminated water tank at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant at Okuma town in Fukushima prefecture. (AFP/TEPCO)

A Fukushima worker has accidentally switched off cooling pumps – the latest in the string of mishaps and misfortunes at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The employee pushed a button turning off power to some of the systems in the four reactor buildings – by mistake, according to the Nuclear Regulation Authority.

It’s just the latest of many incidents the facility has seen over the past couple of years. 

Earlier this year, a rat apparently tripped an electrical wire at the plant, causing a power outage. This meant that the spent uranium fuel rods couldn’t be cooled for a time.

In August, it was revealed that 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from one of the Fukushima’s storage tanks.

The Japanese government pledged to help tackle the crisis, giving half a billion dollars to help contain contaminated water.

Huge amounts of radioactive water are stored at the plant and the decomposition of the facility is set to take decades.

Japan has been denying these problems for months, but recently set up an organization among major utilities and nuclear experts to discuss decommissioning, including several advisers from countries such as France and Britain and Russia.

The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared on Sunday that the country would be grateful for any help from abroad to contain the crisis.

"We are wide open to receive the most advanced knowledge from overseas to contain the problem," the PM stressed in his English speech to open the international conference on energy and environment in Kyoto.

"My country needs your knowledge and expertise," he said.

In March 2011, a massive earthquake and tsunami resulted in rescue workers pouring hundreds of tons of water a day over the reactors to keep them cool.