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The seawater pump in the cooling system for the Fukushima power plant's No. 5 reactor broke down Saturday evening, prompting repair crews to install a backup pump 15 hours later on Sunday afternoon, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
By noon Sunday, the core had reached a temperature of 93.6 degrees and the fuel pool had reached 46 degrees, compared with 68 degrees and 41 degrees, respectively, at 9 p.m. Saturday. The backup pump kicked in at 12:31 p.m., bringing the core back down to 83 degrees by 1 p.m., a Tepco spokeswoman said by phone later Sunday. The temperature of the core must stay below 100 degrees to maintain cold shutdown status. Anything above might cause the water to evaporate and expose the fuel rods.
Still, Matsumoto admitted that "it might have been better" to notify the media sooner about the pump's failure. Tepco is under fire for failing to disclose information fully and quickly since the nuclear crisis began on March 11. The quake and tsunami severely damaged units 1, 2, 3 and 4 at Fukushima No. 1, but Nos. 5 and 6 were already shut for regular inspections at the time of the disaster.