After Saturday’s blast at Fukushima’s No.1 reactor and Monday’s blast at the No.3 reactor, we were hoping that’d be the end to the nuclear plant nightmares. Unfortunately a third blast occurred in the small hours of this today, at the second reactor, leaving the fuel rods exposed for just over two hours.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, (TEPCO), said that they believe Monday’s explosion at the No. 3 reactor caused today’s blast at the No.2 reactor, with the problem being blamed on the cooling system. The roofs and walls of the buildings covering the reactors have been damaged due to the explosions, providing escape routes for hydrogen.
Over at the fourth reactor, a fire also broke out today, but that has since been extinguished. Worries of increasing radiation levels haven’t yet been quenched, unfortunately. Japan’s prime minister Naoto Kan has urged people residing within 30kmof the plant to stay indoors, and a similar 30km radius no-fly zone has also been established.
The chief government spokesperson Yukio Edano has stated that the “radiation level at the front gate was 8217 this morning… It has since come down to the level that can do no harm”. This radiation reading of 8217 micro sievert (measured per hour) was from the Fukushima plant’s front gate, and is 400 times the annual legal limit, reportedly. Nonetheless, the Japanese government and media has assured people that the levels are fine now, and that the risk of radiation poisoning is very minimal. [Kyodo News, Al Jazeera, AltJapan and @BreakingNews]
Image Credit: Reuters, showing smoke from yesterday’s explosion at Fukushima’s No.3 reactor.