More problems have been reported at the Fukushima nuclear plant, two months after it was crippled by Japan’s deadly earthquake and tsunami.
A water leak from a reactor vessel and another spill of contaminated water into the ocean are the latest setbacks in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.
Operators Tepco told a news conference about the difficulties at Reactor No.1, which had been seen as the closest to stabilising.
Tepco General Manager Junichi Matsumoto said there was likely to be a large leak in the pressure vessel, possibly as a result of fallen fuel pellets.
“As for a meltdown, it is certain that it has crumbled and the fuel is located at the bottom,” he added.
The battle to bring Fukushima under control has been complicated by repeated leaks of radioactive water. Nearby, the Pacific Ocean and groundwater have both been threatened.
For those caught up in the catastrophe, nuclear radiation is not the only enemy they face as they struggle to build a future from the ruins.
Some of those who have fled the disaster zone are said to have been refused by hotels amid fears of contamination. Local children taken to safer areas away from Fukushima have reportedly been bullied.