Leaking containers at Fukushima pose risk of hydrogen explosions

Leaking containers at Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant pose the risk of possible hydrogen explosions, according to experts.

Of the containers holding contaminated water at the nuclear plant in northeast Japan, almost 10 per cent were found to be leaking radioactive water.

The likely cause of the leakages, which came to light during an investigation by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the plant operator, is thought to be a build-up of hydrogen and other gases due to radiation contamination.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has raised concerns surrounding the potential hazards of accumulated hydrogen building up in the containers.

An official from the agency told Asahi Shimbun, if the concentration level was high, a spark caused by static electricity could cause a container to explode.

The leakages came to light during inspection of 278 of the plant's 1,307 containers by Tepco officials.

They found that of the plant's 1,307 containers inspected, 26 containers or 10 per cent, had a leakage or overspill from their lids.

According to experts, gases might have accumulated in the sediment at the base of the containers, causing the volume of the liquid to expand, resulting in the overflow.

According to Tepco officials, the risk of an explosion was believed to be minimal, with a series of measures underway as a matter of urgency to resolve the faulty storage containers.

Meanwhile, according to Kyushu Electric Power Co, it hoped to restart the 890 MW No.1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant in southwestern Japan in late July, the first resumption in about two years following stringent safety checks that were imposed after the 2011 Fukushima crisis.

The company further said it hoped to restart the 890-MW Sendai No.2 reactor in late September.

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, all of Japan's 48 other nuclear reactors were shut down for inspection and upgrading.