Small radioactive water leak within TEPCO plant

TOKYO (Reuters) - Water containing a small amount of radiation leaked within a Tokyo Electric Power Co nuclear power plant in northern Japan, where a strong earthquake hit on Saturday, company officials said.

The water leaked at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daini plant from a pool in a warehouse which keeps disposal materials of radioactive waste, an official at Fukushima Daini said.

“No water has leaked outside of the warehouse,” the official said, adding that TEPCO has confirmed that there was no impact on the environment. TEPCO’s two nuclear plants in Fukushima, including Fukushima Daini, were operating normally, Asia’s top power company said.

The two plants have a combined power capacity of 9,096 megawatts, enough to supply half of the greater Tokyo region.

TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s biggest, has been shut down since a major earthquake last July.

Beside TEPCO, nuclear power facilities run by Tohoku Electric Power Co in northern Japan were also operating normally after the powerful earthquake.

“We haven’t found any problems at our Onagawa and Higashidori nuclear plants after the earthquake,” an official at Tohoku Electric said.

A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.2 jolted northern Japan at 8:43 a.m. on Saturday (7:43 p.m. EDT on Friday), killing three people. As many as 10 people are missing.

Tohoku’s Onagawa plant in Miyagi prefecture has three units with a combined capacity of 2,174 megawatts. The official said one unit at Onagawa has been closed for routine maintenance, while two other units were operating normally.

The official said no problem has been found at its 1,100 megawatt Higashidori nuclear plant. The plant is in Aomori prefecture and has been closed for maintenance.

A Japanese oil refining facility located in northern region were unaffected, but small geothermal and hydroelectric power facilities were shut down after the earthquake.

Japan’s top refiner Nippon Oil Corp’s 145,000 barrel-per-day Sendai refinery was not damaged.

The quake had no impact on operations because the refinery has been shut since earlier this month for scheduled maintenance, a Nippon Oil official said.

Another official at Tohoku Electric said its 28.8-megawatt geothermal power plant in Akita prefecture resumed operations in the early afternoon, around five hours after the initial quake.

Tohoku Electric’s seven hydroelectric power plants in Iwate, Miyagi and Akita prefectures with a total capacity of 19.64 megawatts have remained shut, and it was unclear when they would return to operations pending the inspections, the official added.

Electricity wholesaler J-Power’s 14.6 megawatt hydroelectric plant and prefecture-run 6.8-megawatt hydro plant in Iwate Prefecture have remained shut after the quake, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said.

Reporting by Chisa Fujioka, Osamu Tsukimori and Chikafumi Hodo; editing by David Stamp