TOKYO - Japan pumped nitrogen gas into a crippled nuclear reactor on Thursday, trying to prevent an explosive buildup of hydrogen gas as the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years stirred atomic safety debate and inspections in the United States.
Engineers worked through the night injecting nitrogen into the containment vessel of reactor No.1 at Fukushima Daiichi power plant, following success in stopping highly radioactive water leaking into the sea at another reactor in the complex.
"It is necessary to inject nitrogen gas into the containment vessel and eliminate the potential for a hydrogen explosion," an official of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) told a news briefing.
The possibility of another hydrogen explosion like those that ripped through reactors No.1 and No.3 early in the crisis, spreading high levels of radiation into the air, was "extremely low," he said.
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