Fukushima Power Plant Explosion Reported: Did Reactor Explode?
Possible Core Meltdown Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant
An explosion was reported at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Reuters reports that at least four people were injured. Japan's Nuclear Safety Agency initially reported that the explosion was not at the reactor, but plumes of smoke were seen issuing from the Fukushima reactor and its housing appears to have been damaged. The Tokyo Fire Department has sent a special rescue team to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.
At least three patients at a nearby hospital had been exposed to radiation when Pukushima explosion took place. The presence of cesium-137 in the area near the Fukushima plant suggests that, even if it hasn't exploded, the reactor core was exposed to the air
Since the earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima plant has been the focal point of local concern after a shutdown failure, which raised the risk of a meltdown. While officials say that a meltdown would not affect humans nearby, memories of Chernobyl are all too vivid.
Earlier, radiation levels at Fukushima Daiichi were reported at 1,000 times normal, thought his was considered to still be within margins of public safety. The six-mile radius around the reactors were evacuated. Mitsuhiko Tanaka, who helped design Fukushima Daiichi and later became an anti-nuclear activist, said that the detection of cesium-137 was a bad sign, and compared the situation to the Three Mile Island emergency in 1979.
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Meanwhile, the death toll from the earthquake and tsunami continues to rise, and is expected to exceed 1,200.
Technicians earlier released vapour to lower the pressure in some of the reactors.
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan confirmed that a "minute amount" of radioactive material had escaped from a reactor during the procedure.
Later, officials said it was possible that one of the reactors had gone into meltdown.
Radiation levels outside the main gate of the plant were eight times normal levels.
Tepco later said it had released a small amount of radioactive vapour into the atmosphere to reduce the pressure and said there were no health risks.