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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Japan faces nuclear meltdown after explosion at vast power plant caused by earthquake which killed 1,300


Meltdown: An explosion has been heard and smoke seen at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant

2,800 residents already evacuated within two-mile radius of the plant

Pressure rises to 2.1 times normal level

Experts warn the situation 'could turn grave'

There has been an explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Several workers have been injured by the blast as they continue the struggle to contain radiation leaks at the crippled reactor.

Thousands of people within a six-mile radius of the Fukushima facility were evacuated as radiation rose to 1,000 times the safe level and pressure grew, fueling fears of an explosion.

With growing tension at the plant 150 miles north of Tokyo, a second state of emergency was declared as pressure rose in two reactors at the facility.

Earlier officials had proposed releasing radioactive vapour into the atmosphere in a bid to prevent an explosion after its cooling system failed.

The country's nuclear safety agency says pressure inside the reactor had now risen to 2.1 times the level considered normal.

'It's possible that radioactive material in the reactor vessel could leak outside but the amount is expected to be small, and the wind blowing towards the sea will be considered,' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

'Residents are safe after those within a 3km radius were evacuated and those within a 10km radius are staying indoors, so we want people to be calm,' he added.

Unaffected? The Hirono Power station appears to be carrying on as normal as waves crash against the coastline following yesterday's earthquake

Disaster scene: The Fukushima No. 1 power plant run by the Tokyo Electric Power Co. at Okuma in northern Japan, pictured in 2008

Tomoko Murakami, leader of the nuclear energy group at Japan's Institute of Energy Economics, said there did not appear to be an imminent danger of a radiation leak.

'Even if fuel rods are exposed, it does not mean they would start melting right away,' she said.

'Even if fuel rods melt and the pressure inside the reactor builds up, radiation would not leak as long as the reactor container functions well.'

Ablaze: An oil refinery is on fire in Chiba city - just one of many fires sparked by the 8.9 magnitude earthquake - the sixth biggest ever recorded

But Mark Hibbs, a nuclear expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, warned that the situation could turn grave.

'This is no laughing matter,'he said, referring to unconfirmed reports that one or more of the emergency diesel generators for the cooling system were not working.

He said there was serious concern in Japan whether the cooling of the core and removal of residual heat could be assured.

'If that does not happen, if heat is not removed, there is a definite danger of a core melt ... fuel will overheat, become damaged and melt down.'

Fire: Flames lick the sky at a natural gas facility in Chiba, near Tokyo, after the structure felt the full force of the quake

Only Hours To Cool 2 Nuclear Power Plants Or They Will Face MELTDOWN!

Explosion at quake-hit nuclear plant- 12.03.2011

source: dailymail


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