Workers engaged in sealing radiation leaking crack at N-plant

Tokyo/Fukushima: Japanese workers on Sunday struggled to block a crack leaking high radiation into the sea from a stricken reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant, as the government said it may take several months before the situation at the quake-hit facility is brought under control.

The plant`s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), said two of its workers, who had been missing since the March 11 killer quake and tsunami crippled the nuclear power station, were found dead in the basement of a reactor`s building.

The workers, who were in their 20s, died of bleeding from multiple injuries about an hour after the quake struck the plant, it said, adding their bodies were found on Wednesday last.

It is the first time that TEPCO workers have been confirmed to have died at the plant, Kyodo news agency said.

Meanwhile, engineers were set to inject the polymeric water absorbent used for diapers into pipes leading to a pit connected to the No.2 reactor`s building, where a 12-inch crack had been found to be leaking radioactive water.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the water is still flowing from the pit into the Pacific Ocean and that the rate of the leak remains unchanged despite TEPCO`s efforts to encase the fracture in concrete.

Highly radioactive water has been filling up the basement of the No.2 building and a tunnel-like underground trench connected to it. The water in the pit is believed to have come from the No.2 reactor core, where fuel rods have partially melted.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the nuclear regulatory body, said that pits from the plant`s other reactors have no similar cracks.

Workers have also been checking the condition of the embankment at the plant on the coast to find out other possible routes for radiation leakage into the sea, the agency said, the report said.

According to TEPCO, radioactive iodine-131 more than 10,000 times the legal concentration limit was detected in the water found in the pit.

The government said that several months may be required before radioactive particles` leak is stopped.

"If we apply methods considered to be normal, I believe that it will be something like that," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters, when asked whether several months would be required before the plant is brought under control.

"While it may not be feasible, we have been asking for other possibilities to be explored to shorten that period," Edano said.

He also said the government would review whether it is necessary to change the currently designated evacuation areas once experts finish analysing the latest data as more radiation monitoring samples have been collected in recent days.