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article imageJapan's No. 3 nuclear reactor building explodes

By Adeline Yuboco     Mar 14, 2011 in World
Tokyo - The Japanese government confirmed an explosion occurred at the facility housing Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s (TEPCO) No. 3 nuclear reactor in the Fukushima prefecture late Monday morning.
According to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the hydrogen explosion at the building containing Dai-Ichi's No. 3 nuclear reactor occurred at 11:01 a.m local time. White smoke was seen rising above the nuclear facility. People situated as far as 30 miles from the site reported feeling the explosion.
One of the walls of the building containing the nuclear reactor had collapsed as a result of the explosion. The container vessel surrounding the reactor is still intact according to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
He explained that the explosion may have been a result of the excess amount of hydrogen that accumulated within the nuclear reactor brought about by insufficient cooling of the nuclear reactor core.
One operator has been injured while seven other people have been reported missing following the explosion.
At least 170,000 people have been evacuated within a 12-mile radius around the Fukushima power plants. The 600 residents that remained within the area despite the evacuation order were told to remain indoors.
Initial reports have stated that radiation levels within the area surrounding the nuclear power plant have increased after the explosion. However, Edano told reporters that it is unlikely that a leak of radioactive material will happen as water continues to be injected into the nuclear reactors.
Nevertheless, Edano promised that they are looking into the situation very seriously. "We are dealing with the situation as though a core meltdown has occurred," he told reporters.
Prior to the explosion, government officials and workers at the power plant have worked desperately to avert the possibility of a nuclear meltdown and releasing an increase of radioactive material into the atmosphere by flooding the reactors with water and boric acid.
With news of pressure building within the building of the No. 3 reactor—and water levels declining, causing the nuclear rods to become exposed—TEPCO began pumping in seawater into the facility in an attempt to restore the water supply system and prevent the rods from melting.
A state of emergency was declared in the country's nuclear power plants after a fire broke out at the Onagawa nuclear power plant located in the neighboring Miyagi prefecture on Friday following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that shook the country.
On Saturday, an explosion occurred in the building housing TEPCO's No. 1 nuclear reactor resulting from a hydrogen leak. Four workers were injured as a result of the explosion.
In light of the two nuclear power plant explosions in Fukushima, attention now turns to the other nuclear power plants in the country that have been affected by the massive earthquake and tsunami. One of which is the Dai-Ni plant located in Tokai, which also experienced a failure on Friday.
Concerns have been raised for survivors located in the prefecture of Miyagi. Dr. Michio Kaku—a physicist—said that the Japanese government should now consider extending evacuation orders beyond the 12-mile radius after a Japanese official confirmed that 22 people have suffered radiation contamination with 190 others feared to have been exposed to increased amount of radiation.
"Winds don't stop blowing at 12 miles," he pointed out. "Computer models show that the radiation doesn't disperse in a sphere or a circle. It disperses in a…pencil-like plum that..waves with the wind like a lighthouse."
More about Nuclear reactor, Fukushima prefecture, japan earthquake, Tokyo Electric Power Co, Nuclear disaster
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