The nuclear crisis and the threat of an uncontrolled radiation leak following Japan’s devastating quake and tsunami remains significant. Notably at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, some 240 kilometres north of Tokyo. On Saturday, the outer casing of building housing reactor number one blew.
Japan’s nuclear experts quickly tried to allay fears saying this had been caused by a hydrogen build-up and not radioactive gases. For the moment, the core of the reactor is said to be intact.
Despite that, those living near the plant were immediately evacuated as the problems with its cooling systems became apparent. So far, authorities say more than a 150 people have been exposed to radiation levels beyond normal limits.
On Sunday the exclusion zone around Fukushima N1 was extended to 20 kilometres, while the evacuation area around Fukushima N2 nearby was held at 10 kilometres. It was also badly rocked by the quake, but the primary worry remains Fukushima N1.
Earlier, the cooling system at the plant’s third reactor also stopped working, prompting a second massive explosion. As with the other blast, scientists said the fuel rods did not appear to have been damaged.
But fears of a meltdown remain acute. The cooling system at the second reactor is also now said to have stopped working. Like one and two, engineers are desperately pumping huge amounts of sea water into the quake stricken reactor in an effort to stabilise it.
So far, scientists appear confident Japan is not experiencing a meltdown on the level of Three Mile Island in the US in 1979, let alone Chernobyl in 1986. However, the crisis is certain to force a rethink on energy policy, in a country so reliant on nuclear power.
Japan's nuclear crisis