portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting global

energy & nuclear | environment

Third Japanese Nuke Plant Explodes

TOKYO - Japan's nuclear safety agency says an explosion has been heard at Unit 2 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. An agency spokesman speaking Tuesday on national television said the explosion was heard at 6:10 a.m. (2110 GMT).
TOKYO - Japan's nuclear safety agency says an explosion has been heard at Unit 2 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. An agency spokesman speaking Tuesday on national television said the explosion was heard at 6:10 a.m. (2110 GMT).

No other details were immediately announced.

The troubles at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex began when Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan's northeast knocked out power, crippling cooling systems needed to keep nuclear fuel from melting down.

update 15.Mar.2011 00:18

update

"We are on the brink. We are now facing the worst-case scenario," said Hiroaki Koide, a senior reactor engineering specialist at the Research Reactor Institute of Kyoto University. "We can assume that the containment vessel at Reactor No. 2 is already breached. If there is heavy melting inside the reactor, large amounts of radiation will most definitely be released."

Another executive said the chain of events at Daiichi suggested that it would be difficult to maintain emergency seawater cooling operations for an extended period if the containment vessel at one reactor had been compromised because radiation levels could threaten the health of workers nearby.

If all workers do in fact leave the plant, the nuclear fuel in all three reactors is likely to melt down, which would lead to wholesale releases of radioactive material by far the largest accident of its kind since the Chernobyl.