Monday, March 14, 2011

Another blast in Nuclear Reactor feared

Tokyo: Japan on Sunday warned of another explosion at Fukushima plant as it battled hard to avert multiple meltdowns at two of its nuclear reactors damaged by the devastating tsunami triggered earthquake amid fears of the toll exceeding 10,000 in the ravaged northeastern coast.

As Japanese authorities scrambled to control overheating reactors and fresh radiation threats at the quake-hit Fukushima nuke reactor, the government warned of the risk of a second explosion.

The reactor faced serious troubles after its emergency cooling system failed, triggering a fresh radiation threat, a day after a blast rocked the site following country's biggest quake, the magnitude of which has been revised from 8.9 to 9 by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

The Fukushima power plant’s operator said pressure was rising inside reactor No.3 after it lost its cooling system.The development came a day after a blast and leakage from the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima, 240 km north of the capital Tokyo. The explosion had blown off the roof and walls around the reactor.

“We cannot rule out the possibility of another explosion,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. But he dismissed concerns about it having any significant impact on human health.

He said the trouble with the No. 3 reactor there has not led to a “meltdown,” a critical situation where fuel rods have melted. A complete meltdown can lead to release of uranium and other radioactive materials in the environment and pose serious health risks.

Kyodo news agency said 1.80 lakh people were evacuated from a 20 kms radius from the nuke plant joining over 3.5 lakhs who have already moved out.

“We have no choice but to deal with the situation on the premise that it (the death toll) will undoubtedly be numbered in the ten thousands,” Naoto Takeuchi, head of the Miyagi prefectural police was quoted as saying by Kyodo news.

The official tally shows 983 confirmed deaths in Miyagi and other areas. Over 600 bodies have been found in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures on the Pacific coast. Miyagi includes the port of Minamisanriku, which was mostly swept away by gushing Tsunami waters.

Tokyo Electric Power Co, which runs the power station, notified Japan’s nuclear safety agency that the radiationlevel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant had exceeded the legal limit.Hourly radiation at the site was measured at 882 micro sievert, in excess of the allowable level of 500, Kyodo reported.

The nuclear safety agency also said the Tokyo Electric Company acknowledged that the No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima plant had lost its cooling functions, while at least 22 people are known to have been exposed toradiation.

Meanwhile, ready to extend all possible help immediately to Japan, reeling under the devastation caused by the massive earthquake and Tsunami, India is sending its first plane load of blankets on Sunday. "India sending wool good quality blankets for the people of Sendai and others affected by Japan quake. 1st plane load being readied," foreign secretary Nirupama Rao tweeted.

"Discussed this with Jap (Japanese) Amb (Ambassador) in Delhi and we felt this was most useful and needed item given cold weather conditions in affected areas," she said. MEA officials also said that governments of Haryana and Punjab are also helping in procuring large quantities of woollen blankets as the weather is very cold there.
Rao is in constant touch with Indian embassy officials and also Japanese officials here regarding their requirements. "All possible help will be extended immediately," they said.

Japan was hit by one of the worst ever earthquakes, causing giant tsunami waves on Friday and according to some news-media estimates, the death toll ranged between 1,300 and 1,700, and could rise sharply.In the port town of Minamisanriku, nearly 10,000 people were unaccounted for, according to the public broadcaster. (PTI)

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