Tepco admits nuclear meltdown at Fukushima plant
By BNO News
TOKYO (BNO NEWS) — The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), which operates the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant, on Thursday admitted that a nuclear meltdown occurred at the plant.
With the nuclear meltdown, Tepco said the nuclear fuel rods in the reactor are completely exposed, as large amounts of radiation is being released. The water level at the plant’s No. 1 reactor was much lower than thought – as much as 5 meters (16.4 feet) below the nuclear rods – and clearly not high enough to cover the nuclear fuel.
According to reports, several holes were found at the bottom of the nuclear reactor’s pressure vessel, where the melted nuclear fuel now threatens to leak out of.
On a daily basis, Tepco injects almost 200 tons of water into the pressure vessel, but it is highly likely that the water has been constantly leaking from the vessel and containment chamber, eventually flowing under the reactor building.
On Monday, Japan’s Chubu Electric Co. agreed to shut down its Hamaoka nuclear power station in Shizuoka Prefecture, two days after Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan requested to have all operations at the plant’s reactors suspended due to Japan’s science ministry informing that an 8.0-magnitude earthquake is forecast to hit the Tokai region with an 87 percent probability in the coming 30 years, which could affect the nuclear plant.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency informed that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious. The core damage for Units 1, 2 and 3 are of 55 percent, 35 percent and 33 percent respectively as of April 27.
The government approved a 4 trillion yen ($48.89 billion) emergency budget to finance the early phase of reconstruction. In addition, the evacuation zone was expanded beyond the initial 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) radius surrounding the damaged plant.
At least 14,294 people were killed, while some 13,000 people remain missing due to devastating earthquake and tsunami. Japanese officials have called it the worst crisis since the end of World War II.