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BREAKING — A Third Explosion has been confirmed at Fukushima Nuclear Reactor # 2 -- BREAKING

BREAKING — A Third Explosion has been confirmed at Fukushima Nuclear Reactor # 2 -- BREAKING

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Published by: Zim Vicom on Mar 15, 2011
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05/12/2014

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BREAKING — A Third Explosion has been confirmed at Fukushima Nuclear Reactor # 2 -- BREAKING

TOKYO, March 15, Kyodo The sound of a blast was heard Tuesday morning at the troubled No. 2 reactor of the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government said. The incident occurred at 6:10 a.m. and is feared to have damaged the reactor's pressuresuppression system, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said, citing a report from the plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. SOMA, Japan — An explosion was heard at a third nuclear reactor in northeastern Japan on Tuesday, Japan's nuclear safety agency reported. An agency spokesman speaking Tuesday on national television said the explosion was heard at 6:10 a.m. local time.
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Radiation levels passed legal limits after the blast, Kyodo news network reported, and some workers at the No. 2 reactor were evacuated. The explosion comes as Japanese engineers pumped seawater into Unit 2 of the Fukushima Daiichi plant after coolant water levels there dropped, exposing uranium fuel rods. The water drop left the rods no longer completely covered in coolant, thus increasing the risk of a radiation leak and the potential for a meltdown at the Unit 2 reactor, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. Workers managed to raise water levels after the second drop Monday night, but they began falling for a third time, according to Naoki Kumagai, an official with Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Agency. TEPCO later said it was opening a valve on the reactor's pressure vessel to let in seawater. Units 1 and 3 earlier saw drops in water levels. Seawater was then used at those units, which were also crippled by last Friday's quake and tsunami. A senior government official said it now seems that the nuclear fuel rods inside all three functioning reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex are melting. "Although we cannot directly check it, it's highly likely happening," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. Some experts would consider melting fuel rods a partial meltdown. Others, though, reserve that term for times when nuclear fuel melts through a reactor's innermost chamber but not through the outer containment shell. Officials held out the possibility that, too, may be happening. "It's impossible to say whether there has or has not been damage" to the vessels, Kumagai said. If a complete reactor meltdown — where the uranium core melts through the outer containment shell — were to occur, a wave of radiation would be released, resulting in major, widespread health problems. Also unknown was the status of any nuclear waste that might be stored at the site, and whether the pools housing used fuel were still being cooled to prevent a radiation release.

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The cabinet secretary's comments followed a hydrogen explosion at Unit 3 on Monday that injured 11 workers and was heard 25 miles away. A similar explosion happened at Unit 1 on Saturday. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan later said the government was setting up a joint response headquarters with TEPCO to better manage the crisis. Of all these troubles, the drop in water levels at Unit 2 had officials the most worried. "Units 1 and 3 are at least somewhat stabilized for the time being," said Nuclear and Industrial Agency official Ryohei Shiomi. "Unit 2 now requires all our effort and attention." The blast occurred as authorities tried to cool the reactor with seawater. Authorities said operators knew an explosion was a possibility as they struggled to reduce pressure inside the reactor containment vessel, but apparently felt they had no choice if they wanted to avoid a complete meltdown. In the end, the hydrogen in the released steam mixed with oxygen in the atmosphere and set off the blast. In some ways, the explosion at Unit 3 was not as dire as it might seem. The blast actually lessened pressure building inside the troubled reactor, and officials said the allimportant containment shell — thick concrete armor around the reactor — had not been damaged. In addition, officials said radiation levels remained within legal limits, though anyone left within 12 miles of the scene was ordered to remain indoors. "We have no evidence of harmful radiation exposure" from Monday's blast, Deputy Cabinet Secretary Noriyuki Shikata told reporters. On Saturday, a similar explosion took place at the plant's Unit 1, injuring four workers and causing mass evacuations. A Japanese official said 22 people had been confirmed to have suffered radiation contamination and up to 190 may have been exposed. Workers in protective clothing used hand-held scanners to check people arriving at evacuation centers. While four Japanese nuclear complexes were damaged in the wake of Friday's twin disasters, the Dai-ichi complex, which sits just off the Pacific coast and was badly hammered by the tsunami, has been the focus of most of the worries over Japan's deepening nuclear crisis. All three of the operational reactors at the complex now have faced severe troubles.

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