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Rain clouds optimism in Japan

Power has been restored to several reactors at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, 250 kilometres east of Tokyo, but it is not yet clear if the effort to restart cooling systems will work.

“We are now checking if the cooling system and other facilities of the number two reactor are still intact before sending power to them,” Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Kenji Kawasaki said.

“It is unknown when we can restore them, as we need to see [the] results of our checks first. We are still trying to bring cables from outside power sources to the number three and number four reactors.”

Japan’s nuclear safety agency confirmed power has been restored to the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors from the grid, but warned pressure was rising in the No. 3 reactor.

As a result of the increased pressure, the agency was monitoring whether to take steps to release some pressure by “venting”.

The agency also confirmed there was a risk of radioactive dust being inhaled by workers at the Fukushima plant, but added that at this stage there were no indications that had happened.

Officials are optimistic that work from engineers may enable the control room of reactor No. 2 to regain some functions today.

Equipment likely to be switched back on includes temperature and pressure instruments as well as the air filtering system, which is designed to prevent radioactive substances entering the control room.

The cooling systems – designed to protect the Fukushima plant’s six reactors from a potentially disastrous meltdown – were knocked out by the March 11 tsunami that followed a 9.0-magnitude earthquake.

Engineers have been battling rising temperatures ever since.

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