Japan May Have Lost Race to Bring Fukushima Nuke Plant Under Control

The situation at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious. According to the Guardian, the radioactive core in reactor No. 2 may have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel. In fact, the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan acknowledged on Monday the possibility that melted fuel rods had leaked through damaged parts at the bottom of the pressure container in the No. 2 reactor and entered the containment vessel, sparking fears that radioactive gases could soon be released into the atmosphere.

[From the Guardian]:

The radioactive core in a reactor at the Fukushima [nuke complex] appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

The warning follows an analysis by Richard Lahey, a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant…. Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric (GE) when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have “lost the race” to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

The prevailing view among experts is that the fuel rods began deteriorating within the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors between March 12 and March 14, a day after the devastating earthquake struck.

“The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell,” Lahey told the Guardian. “I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards.”

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