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Tanks for Radioactive Water Nearly Full at Fukushima Plant

A concrete pumping vehicle sprays water on the spent fuel pool of No. 4 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, May 6, 2011 (file photo)

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant says temporary containers holding radioactive water will be full by the end of the week.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said Monday that it will take until mid-June to build a faciliy that can decontaminate the water and reuse it in the plant.

The water has been pumped out of reactors that were sprayed to cool them down in an attempt to contain the nuclear distaster triggered by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northwestern Japan.

Also Monday, international nuclear experts began arriving in Japan to probe the causes of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and make recommendations to prevent future accidents.

Six experts have arrived from the International Atomic Energy Agency's headquarters in Vienna. They will be joined by 14 experts from 12 countries for an investigation that will begin Tuesday and run through June 2.

The experts, led by British chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman, will spend most of their time in Tokyo, but are expected to visit the Fukushima plant.

The team will present its findings at a special ministerial meeting of IAEA member states in Vienna in late June.

On Monday, TEPCO's share price fell nine percent, the first trading day after the company announced it had suffered a $15-billion loss in the year that ended in March, because of the huge costs of the nuclear disaster.

Japan's NHK national television reported Monday that it has obtained a copy of an operating manual for one of the crippled reactors at the Fukushima plant, which shows that technicians violated their own procedures in the crucial hours after the tsunami.

NHK said the technicians waited hours longer than they should have to begin venting steam as pressure built up in the containment vessel at the number one reactor. It said if the proper procedure had been followed, it might have been possible to avoid a hydrogen explosion, which is the suspected cause of radiation leakage from that reactor.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.