Saturday, March 12, 2011
Breaking: Conflicting reports on Japanese Nuclear Emergency
An explosion occurred at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station north of Tokyo, destroying the walls of the No. 1 reactor building, NHK Television said. The report came after the government said a reactor may be melting.
Smoke was rising around the nuclear reactor after an aftershock from yesterday’s quake struck, Ryohei Shiomi, a spokesman at the country’s nuclear safety agency said by phone.
The spokesman said several people were injured during an aftershock that struck around 3:30 p.m. Japan time, adding he had no further information. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, said it had no information, when contacted by Bloomberg News.
Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said earlier that a nuclear reactor in the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station, about 220 kilometers (140 miles) north of Tokyo, may be starting to melt down after Japan’s biggest earthquake on record hit the area yesterday.
Fuel rods at the No. 1 reactor at the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. may be melting after radioactive Cesium material left by atomic fission was detected near the site, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, spokesman Yuji Kakizaki said by phone today.
“If the fuel rods are melting and this continues, a reactor meltdown is possible,” Kakizaki said. A meltdown refers to a heat buildup in the core of such an intensity it melts the floor of the reactor containment housing.
UPDATE: CNN) -- An explosion at an earthquake-damaged nuclear plant was not caused by damage to the nuclear reactor but by a pumping system that failed as crews tried to bring the reactor's temperature down, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Saturday.
The next step for workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant will be to flood the reactor containment structure with sea water to bring the reactor's temperature down to safe levels, he said. The effort is expected to take two days.
Radiation levels have fallen since the explosion and there is no immediate danger, Edano said. But authorities were nevertheless expanding the evacuation to include a radius of 20 kilometers (about 12.5 miles) around the plant. The evacuation previously reached out to 10 kilometers.
The explosion about 3:30 p.m. Saturday sent white smoke rising above the plant a day after a massive earthquake and tsunami crippled cooling systems at the plant in northeastern Japan. Four workers were injured in the blast.
The walls of a concrete building surrounding the reactor container collapsed, but the reactor and its containment system were not damaged in the explosion, Edano said.
Posted by Steve Douglass at 2:42 AM