Nuclear Crisis Grows In Japan
A third reactor at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant lost its cooling capabilities today. Technicians are desperately pumping seawater into the containment vessels of the crippled reactors in a last-ditch effort to avoid a full meltdown.
The risky emergency measures at the plant already have resulted in hydrogen explosions in two of the containment structures, releasing radioactivity. A 20 km zone around the Fukushima facility has been evacuated, displacing approximately 250,000 residents of an area with a population of 2 million.
The problem was detected in the plant’s No. 2 reactor today afternoon after an explosion rocked the building containing the plant’s No. 3 reactor, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.
“We think that the hydrogen explosion in (the building housing) reactor No. 3 caused the cooling system of reactor No. 2 to stop working,” Edano said.
Water levels were falling and pressure was building up inside the No. 2 reactor, he said, and officials were working on a plan to release gas and also inject seawater into that reactor.¬†Workers have been injecting seawater in a last-ditch effort to cool down fuel rods and prevent a full meltdown at two other reactors at the plant‚ÄĒNo. 1 and No. 3‚ÄĒafter an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami Friday knocked out the reactors’ cooling systems.
Japanese officials have said they believe there may be a partial meltdown in the No. 3 and No. 1 nuclear reactors. Authorities have not yet been able to confirm a meltdown, because it is too hot inside the affected reactors to check.¬†There are six reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, located in northeastern Japan about 65 km (40 miles) south of Sendai.