Meltdown threatens Fukushima plant

Exposed fuel rods could result in more hydrogen blasts

Technicians are struggling to stabilize a third reactor at Japan’s Daiichi plant in Fukushima prefecture, which has been rocked by blasts for three days following the devastating 8.9 magnitude earthquake that has crippled the country. Radioactive fuel rods became exposed after the reactor’s cooling system broke down, resulting in a hydrogen blast that has injured 11 people. Plant operators have resumed pumping seawater into a second reactor after its coolant system broke, resulting in declining temperatures. Both nuclear experts and the Tokyo Electric Power Co. maintain that a Chernobyl-scale disaster is unlikely due to thick containment walls remaining intact, and the more rigorous safety measures in place. But, a U.S. aircraft carrier has been moved from the area after detecting low-level radiation 160 km offshore. A 30-km exclusion zone has been enforced around the plant, and tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area in the event of a nuclear meltdown.

BBC News

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