M A I N   N E W S

Radioactivity looms over Tokyo
n 2 more blasts at Fukushima plant
n PM warns of further leakage

n Nearly 1.4 lakh people living within 30 km of the Fukushima facility told to remain indoors
n Radiation 400 times the level to which people can be exposed in one year
n A meltdown, a critical nuclear accident, possible
n The UN weather agency says winds dispersing radioactive material over the Pacific Ocean
n Radiation level in Tokyo and in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo 10 times the normal limit

Fukushima/Tokyo, March 15
Japan’s nuclear crisis assumed dangerous dimensions today as two more blasts rocked the quake-crippled Fukushima plant spewing large amounts of radioactive material which may float towards Tokyo, with Premier Naoto Kan warning that there was a “very high risk” of further leakage.

The hydrogen explosions at No.2 and No.4 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant this morning prompted the government to announce that the radiation had reached harmful levels. A fire was also reported around 9.40 am local time at the No.4 reactor, where spent nuclear fuels were stored, but it was extinguished later, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the plant’s operator.

The blast at No.2 reactor at 6.10 am appeared to have damaged one of its containment systems for the first time, triggering fears about more serious radioactive leaks.

TEPCO said the problem could develop into a critical “meltdown” situation after part of the No.2 reactor’s container vessel damaged following the explosion, Kyodo reported.

A worried Prime Minister Kan, in his address to the nation, warned that the radiation had already spread from the crippled reactors and there was “a very high risk of further leakage”. He asked an estimated 140,000 people living within 30 km of the facility north of capital to remain indoors and conserve power as threat loomed large of Japan’s crisis turning into a Chernobyl-like disaster.

There were fears that the effects of the explosions and fire at the nuclear reactors could spread to Tokyo, home to 12 million people, as the metropolitan authorities said

they had detected a small amount of radioactive material such as iodine and cesium in the air of the city.

The wind was blowing from north to south when the explosions occurred at the Fukushima plant. The French embassy in the capital city issued an advisory, warning that low-level radioactive winds could hit Tokyo from the plant located 240 km away in about 10 hours.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the high radiation level detected at 10.22 am after the explosions at the No.2 and No.4 reactors would “certainly have negative effects on the human body.” — PTI


A serious explosion inside the containment building of reactor 2 has reportedly damaged the suppression pool, compromising its ability to cool the fuel core. The primary containment vessel may also have been damaged. Radiation levels have risen.

Firefighters extinguished a blaze that broke out at reactor 4, which reportedly has no fuel in it. However, the building does house spent fuel, which must be cooled in water-filled storage pools. High levels of radiation were reported between reactors 3 and 4.

Even after hydrogen explosions blew the roofs off the buildings housing reactors 1 and 3, those fuel cores are reportedly stable.





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