Tepco will install giant polyester covers over the Fukushima reactors

Giant polyester covers will soon be placed around the damaged reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex to help contain the release of radioactive substances into the atmosphere, the plant operator said Friday.

Tokyo Electric Power will install the first cover at the No. 1 reactor, the focus of recent stabilization efforts.

Workers will erect a steel framework and place a giant polyester tent-like cover around the reactor building. The cover will be 55 meters high, 47 meters long and 42 meters wide.

The operation to fit the cover will begin next month. Similar covers will be placed around units Nos. 3 and 4. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

It is a low tech and slower version that serves the same purpose as an inflatable dome. A giant inflatable cover that has double lining would be something that could be transported to any site.

Inflatable domes

August, 2006, Southern Inflatables announced the completion of the installation of the largest span air supported structure ever constructed in the world, 215 meters x 215 meters x 45 meters high (705’ x 705’ x 150’ high). The structure was installed over a waste disposal site, 45 meters deep (150 feet) in South Korea.

A series of hydrogen explosions blew up the roofs and upper walls of the three reactors in the days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out their cooling systems, triggering the overheating of the reactors.

The explosions scattered a large amount of radioactive debris in the area around the reactors. Workers will have to clear the debris near the No. 1 unit so that cranes and other heavy equipment can approach the reactor. Tepco said it began shifting debris from the area around the unit Friday.

The damaged buildings have come to symbolize the severity of the nuclear crisis at the plant, the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. The loss of the roofs and filters above the reactors has led to the steady release of radioactive substances from the complex, prompting calls for measures to contain contamination in the surrounding areas.

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