Monday, March 14, 2011

BREAKING NEWS: NHK (Japan National News) reports new blast at nuclear reactor

A new explosion rocked the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan early Tuesday from a reactor that workers had struggled to keep under control since a blast at a neighboring unit, the plant's owner announced.

The "explosive impact" took place shortly after 6 a.m. Tuesday (5 p.m. Monday ET) inside the housing of the plant's No. 2 reactor, and pressure readings indicated some damage to the reactor's containment structure, officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Company reported at a news conference. No further details were immediately released, but TEPCO said some of its workers were evacuated following the blast due to elevated radiation levels.

Workers have been trying to keep sea water pouring into the No. 2 reactor since Monday, when a hydrogen explosion at reactor No. 3 damaged the cooling system at unit 2 and injured 11 people, Japanese authorities said. A similar hydrogen explosion on Saturday blew the roof off the containment structure around the No. 1 reactor.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Tuesday that up to 2.7 meters (8.8 feet) of the No. 2 reactor's control rods -- about half -- have been uncovered. And Yukio Edano, Japan's chief Cabinet secretary, said he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown at all three troubled reactors at the plant. (read more)