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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fears Over Meltdown At Fukushima Reactors


Sunday's Japanese and English press headlined the growing fears of a nuclear meltdown at two reactors on the coast of Fukushima, south of the port city of Sendai after a shutdown triggered by the megaquake on Friday.

Fears Over Meltdown At Fukushima

A special gogai was also distributed outside major railway stations dedicated to the possible nuclear catastrophe, evoking memories of the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago, that is unfolding on the north east coast.

Both the Fukushima No. 1 and Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plants operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) shut down successfully after the earthquake on Friday, but the subsequent tsunami seems to have knocked out their cooling systems and lead to the possibility of a potentially devastating meltdown of the nuclear fuel rods.

Officials have attempted to use seawater to cool the rods in the Fukushima Daiichi plant before a hydrogen leak caused a dramatic explosion blowing the concrete walls away from the reactor.

Around 200,000 people have been evacuated from a 20km exclusion zone around the reactors. Japan's public broadcaster, NHK, issued warnings to evacuees to place a wet towel over their faces as a precautionary measure.

Release of radioactive vapor into the atmosphere to ease the pressure in the reactors has been announced, though the government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has reassured nearby residents not to panic.

A number of workers at the plant have been hospitalized with radiation sickness following the earlier blast.

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