Water level near empty at Japan nuclear reactor

Fears grow overheating could cause leak; 2,000 bodies found on coast; 10,000 feared dead, 500,000 evacuated from their homes.

By REUTERS
March 14, 2011 13:47
4 minute read.
Explosion at Japanese nuclear plant

Nuclear plant explosion 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/NTV via Reuters TV)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

Water levels inside a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear reactor were almost empty on Monday night, said the power plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. The Yomiuri newspaper was reporting that the cooling system at the reactor has stopped, and additional reports said fuel rods were exposed.

News agency Jiji said a meltdown of fuel rods inside the Fukushima Daiichi complex's No.2 reactor could not be ruled out.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


RELATED:
US aircraft carrier reportedly sails into radioactive cloud
2,000 bodies found on tsunami-stricken Japanese coast
Japan: Working under assumption of a partial meltdown


A meltdown raises the risk of damage to the reactor vessel and a possible radioactive leak, experts say.

Earlier, a hydrogen blast at Japan's earthquake-stricken nuclear plant did not damage its primary containment vessel, the UN nuclear agency said.


The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was told by Japanese nuclear authorities the control room of the unit No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant remained operational, following Friday's massive earthquake and tsunami.

"The reactor building exploded but the primary containment vessel was not damaged. The control room of unit 3 remains operational," the IAEA said in a statement.

"All personnel at the site are accounted for. Six people have been injured," it said in a statement on its website.

The core container of the No. 3 reactor was intact after the explosion, the government said, but it warned those still in the 20-kilometer (13-mile) evacuation zone to stay indoors.

A Japanese official said before the blast 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.

US warships and planes helping with relief efforts moved away from the coast temporarily because of low-level radiation. The US Seventh Fleet described the move as precautionary.

US government officials told the NY Times that sailors and other military personnel on-board were exposed to a month's worth of radiation in an hour's time. They added that US helicopters flying humanitarian missions some 60 miles north of damaged Japanese reactors were coated with particulate radiation. The aircraft were washed off.


The government had warned of a possible explosion at the No. 3 reactor because of the buildup of hydrogen in the building housing the reactor. TV images showed smoke rising from the Fukushima facility, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.





An explosion blew the roof off the No. 1 reactor building on Saturday.

Officials confirmed on Sunday that three nuclear reactors north of Tokyo were at risk of overheating, raising fears of an uncontrolled radiation leak.

Engineers worked desperately to cool the fuel rods. If they fail, the containers that house the core could melt, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere.

Humanitarian crisis growing

Meanwhile, Japan battled through the weekend to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for the millions without power or water in its worst crisis since World War Two.

Kyodo news agency said 2,000 bodies had been found on Monday on the shores of Miyagi prefecture, which took the brunt of the tsunami.

A TV station also reported a new tsunami on Monday but the weather agency said it had not detected unusual wave movement.

A badly wounded nation has seen whole villages and towns wiped off the map by a wall of water, leaving in its wake an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant remained worrisome and that the authorities were doing their utmost to stop damage from spreading.

"The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War Two," a grim-faced Kan had told a news conference on Sunday.

"We're under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis."

Death toll 'above 10,000'

Broadcaster NHK, quoting a police official, said more than 10,000 people may have been killed as the wall of water triggered by Friday's 8.9-magnitude quake surged across the coastline, reducing whole towns to rubble. It was the biggest to have hit the quake-prone country since it started keeping records 140 years ago.

"I would like to believe that there still are survivors," said Masaru Kudo, a soldier dispatched to Rikuzentakata, a nearly flattened town of 24,500 people in far-northern Iwate prefecture.

Kyodo said 80,000 people had been evacuated from a 20-km (12-mile) radius around the stricken nuclear plant, joining more than 450,000 other evacuees from quake and tsunami-hit areas in the northeast of the main island Honshu.

Almost 2 million households were without power in the freezing north, the government said. There were about 1.4 million without running water.

"I am looking for my parents and my older brother," Yuko Abe, 54, said in tears at an emergency center in Rikuzentakata.

"Seeing the way the area is, I thought that perhaps they did not make it. I also cannot tell my siblings that live away that I am safe, as mobile phones and telephones are not working."

Related Content

Anti-government protesters demonstrate on a street in central Ankara
June 16, 2013
Thousands take to streets of Istanbul, defy Erdogan

By REUTERS