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New Explosion at Earthquake-Damaged Nuclear Plant, Japanese PM Warns of Radiation Spread

New Explosion at Earthquake-Damaged Nuclear Plant, Japanese PM Warns of Radiation Spread

In a nationally televised address Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation has spread from the reactors that make up the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northern Japan and warned that anyone within a 30 kilometer, or 19 mile radius should stay inside or risk getting radiation sickness. The Associated Press reported that some 180,000 people within a 12 mile radius of the affected area had already been evacuated.

The Prime Minister’s statement follows reports of an early morning explosion at the nuclear plant — the third in four days – and later reports that a fire had broken out in one of the reactors.

From MSNBC:

“The level seems very high, and there is still a very high risk of more radiation coming out,” Kan said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said early Tuesday that a fourth reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex was on fire and that more radiation was released, but officials announced later in the day that the fire was extinguished.

“Now we are talking about levels that can damage human health. These are readings taken near the area where we believe the releases are happening. Far away, the levels should be lower,” Edano said.

The early morning blast happened as Japanese engineers were pumping seawater into reactor Unit 2 after coolant water levels there dropped and exposed uranium fuel rods. Some emergency workers were evacuated following the blast. Now, nearly all of the approximately 800 workers at the plant have left, but 50 remain to carry out crucial cooling work, CNN reports.

“There is still a very high risk of further radioactive material coming out,” the prime minister said, calling on people to remain calm. “We are making every effort possible so that no further explosion or no further leakage … would happen.”

The cause of the explosion still remains unclear, the New York Times said. Officials were trying to figure out if the blast “was caused by the buildup of hydrogen, as occurred at the two other reactors at Daiichi — one on Saturday and the most recent one on Monday, when there was also a large explosion at the No. 3 reactor.”

Two sources told NBC News‘ Robert Bazell that the blast breached the containment structure and that radiation had leaked out.

The agency said the explosion may have damaged the reactor’s suppression chamber, a water-filled tube at the bottom of the container that surrounds the nuclear core, said agency spokesman, Shinji Kinjo. He said that chamber is part of the container wall.

CNN reports:

Edano said earlier Tuesday he could not rule out the possibility of a meltdown at the troubled reactors. While sea water was being pumped into the reactors in an effort to prevent further damage, “it cannot necessarily be called a stable situation,” he said.

Meanwhile, rescue workers continued Tuesday to scour tangled and displaced piles of debris, searching for survivors.

The official death count from the earthquake and tsunami now stands at 2,475 but many thousands are still unnacounted for.

Information is difficult to come by and hard to confirm as communication remains difficult in northern Japan following Friday’s devastating earthquake. Care2 will update the situation as more reports become available. 

For more Care2 coverage on the Japanese tsunami and earthquake, click here.

 

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Photo of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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85 comments

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9:11AM PDT on Apr 9, 2011

Solar! It's as simple as the Sun shining on your face!

5:22PM PDT on Apr 6, 2011

This tragedy in Japan should make governments everywhere wake up and realize that there is no such thing as "safe nuclear power".

9:16AM PDT on Mar 28, 2011

Alright people of the world, this is the time to take action. Dont stand back. we are here at CARE2 to save the the world, we are here to put a stop to war. So let's do it.

8:18PM PDT on Mar 23, 2011

it is all in the planing. "Nobody imagined" rules. For example nobody imagined this whole tsunami horror, same goes for us getting our idiot foot stuck in yet another oil-soaked tar baby. This makes 3 fronts we're waging war on, no matter what name is plastered on it, and we're about to attack Iran. I hope we're intending to draft our politicians to put on helmets and gas masks and go kill the enemy by telling such ridiculous lies to them they die of laughter. Question! "What are we, as a people thinking?" Answer, we're not, at least in majority, we are all in a hypnotic trance, originated by the elected goof-balls who are gradually converting us to slaves. 2012 is coming, how many out there who read this believe that for the first time since the pre-1920s era an actual, viable candidate for any political position will be fielded?

5:30AM PDT on Mar 20, 2011

There is not such thing as "nuclear energy in the short term". It takes 15-20 years from planing to getting first watts. Enough time to develop and widely implement other resources.
BTW, Americans spend twice as much energy than Europeans, without sacrificing comfort.

5:08PM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

I'm praying that it doesn't get any worse.

4:39AM PDT on Mar 18, 2011

We all want the truth. Nuclear power is unwelcome, but we are all lead to believe that waves and wind are the answer to all our needs. They are not! The reality is that to pare down total energy consumption to the minimum will still pose a future of energy famine.

There are strategies available to circumvent this, but we have, as is so typical waited until hour eleven and a half to think about it. Apart from green house effects, and while undesirable, many remain skeptical about the exact part played by them in global warming, the very clear knowledge of eventual fossil fuel starvation has always been there. As usual we have mercilessly cashed in to make hay while the sun shines, without a thought for the future. Result: we may have to accept nuclear energy, at least in the short term, as human kind has been backed into a creek with no paddle.

4:00AM PDT on Mar 17, 2011

Ana must be a Rush Limbagh fan...or a paid troll.

10:53PM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

let this be a lesson to you greenies out there that say close the coal plants and go nuclear? You are insane!! clean coal produces only water vapor and carbon dioxide both good for plants and increase in carbon dioxide actually feeds the plants and they give off more oxygen for us to breath. Also climate gate and millions of scientists have shown us that global warming is a fraud perpetrated to made Monetary Gain in the form of carbon taxation! Do the research don't be Duped!

5:24AM PDT on Mar 16, 2011

Thanks for the article.

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