Reactor feared in meltdown, radiation spreads


Cooler King
Staff member
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r743210_6099840.jpgAs dangerously high levels of radiation spread beyond the Fukushima exclusion zone in Japan, there are fears the race to contain the nuclear crisis has been lost and meltdown has already taken place.
Radiation measured at a village 40 kilometres from the Fukushima nuclear plant now exceeds a criterion for evacuation, the UN nuclear watchdog said.
And a Japanese nuclear expert has warned crews may have to keep pouring cooling water onto the stricken reactors for years.
The radiation finding increases pressure on Japan's government to extend the exclusion zone beyond 20 kilometres around the plant, which was hit by a huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, knocking out the cooling system of the plant's six reactors and setting off explosions and fires.
Prime minister Naoto Kan says he is considering enlarging the evacuation area to force 130,000 people to move in addition to the 70,000 already displaced.
The indications are the most serious nuclear crisis in 25 years is getting worse.
Richard Lahey, head of safety research for this type of reactor at General Electric, which installed the reactors at Fukushima in the 1970s, says workers at the site appear to have lost the race to save the crippled No. 2 reactor.
The Guardian newspaper quotes him as saying he believes the reactor core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel and at least some of it is down on the concrete floor beneath.
This would mean in simple terms the accident is no longer a matter of melting fuel rods, but of meltdown.
That situation is reminiscent of Chernobyl where the plant needed to be covered with a concrete sarcophagus to seal it off.
Reactor feared in meltdown, radiation spreads - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)