The flow of bad news (and radiation) out of Fukushima’s reactors has diminished to a trickle over the past several weeks, as rescue work has proceeded. Not today. TEPCO’s admitted for the first time that Fukushima experienced a full meltdown.
The possibility of a meltdown has been floating in the air since the earthquake and subsequent explosions first rocked the roof off of Fukushima, spreading radiation, confusion and displacement across the local populace (and beyond). Since then, TEPCO workers and the Japanese government have desperately struggled to keep the nuclear fuel rods inside the reactors cool – if they don’t, the scorching material will melt into a pool of radioactive lava. That’s the scenario everyone’s been aiming to avoid – and that’s the scenario we now know had actually occurred all along. Underneath all that dumped seawater has been lying a blob of melted fuel. And it could be melting its way out.
This admittance goes against every assurance TEPCO has handed the world in the midst of Japan’s nuclear crisis – that the situation was bad, but that with emergency work, the plant would be mostly stable, and could be safely shutdown within the year. The worry now, beyond the fact that the damage to the reactor is far worse than imagined, is that a hole in the facility will lead incredibly contaminated water leak out like a faucet. A scalding, radioactive faucet.