Steam leak found at Genkai nuclear power plant

Steam leak found at Genkai nuclear power plant

The operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan has found a steam leak in a reactor just one week after putting it back online. It suspended power generation early Saturday.

Kyushu Electric Power Company says a worker found the small leak at the No. 3 reactor around 7 PM on Friday. The plant is located in Genkai Town in Saga Prefecture.

The utility says the steam does not contain radioactive substances, and that monitoring posts around the plant show no change in radiation levels. It says there has been no harm to the environment.

Kyushu Electric says the leak occurred in a pipe connected to equipment that removes oxygen, carbon dioxide and other substances from the steam.

The reactor was generating power at 75 percent of its capacity at the time. The utility says it gradually lowered output through the night, halting it completely by around 6 AM on Saturday.

Kyushu Electric says it is working quickly to determine the cause and resume operations.

The leak is an unwelcome setback for the utility, which put the reactor back online on March 23rd, ending a break of more than 7 years in operations. The reactor began generating and transmitting power 2 days later.

The reactor was suspended for a regular inspection after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered the Fukushima nuclear accident.