Tokyo Electric Power Co. [TEPCO], the operator of the Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, revealed Thursday that one of the plant’s reactors likely suffered a substantial meltdown of its core, and is now leaking water from holes in the pressure vessel, as well as from the containment vessel that surrounds it.
From Kyodo News: ” [TECPO] said it has found multiple holes adding up to several centimeters in welded piping.” Earlier in the day, TEPCO said “the amount of water inside the troubled reactor was unexpectedly low — not enough to cover the nuclear fuel — hinting that a large part of the fuel melted after being fully exposed.”
That contaminated and radioactive water is probably accumulating in the basement of the reactor building, where radiation ranges continue to be too high for anyone to enter.
The finding, according to Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at TEPCO, “makes it likely that at one point in the immediate wake [of the massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11], the 4-metre-high stack of uranium-rich rods at the core of the reactor had been entirely exposed to the air.”
The latest development is raising concerns that Tokyo Electric Power Co. will encounter difficulty attaining its plan to bring the damaged reactors to a secure condition known as a ”cold shutdown” within six to nine months, risking another show of the co.’s incompetence and more delays in its plan to resolve the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.