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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Two more reactors unstable at nuke plant - World news - Asia-Pacific -

Video: Japan PM calls for calm as crisis deepens staff and news service reports staff and news service reports 

SOMA, Japan — Already having to deal with overheating at three reactors and a spent fuel pool, engineers at Japan's stricken nuclear complex on Wednesday were worried about the possibility of blasts at two other reactors.

"Plant operators were considering the removal of panels from units 5 and 6 reactor buildings to prevent a possible buildup of hydrogen," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.

"It was a buildup of hydrogen at units 1, 2, and 3 that led to explosions at the Dai-ichi facilities in recent days," it added.

Units 5 and 6 at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant were not producing when Friday's quake and tsunami struck. They are full with nuclear fuel but had been considered stable. But on Tuesday a senior official said temperatures there were also slightly elevated.

"The power for cooling is not working well and the temperature is gradually rising, so it is necessary to control it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.

The news followed an explosion Monday night at the plant's Unit 4 that opened two large holes in the structure housing spent nuclear fuel rods.

Japanese officials told the IAEA that the spent fuel storage area had caught fire and that radioactivity was "being released directly into the atmosphere."

After the fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the pool used to cool the spent fuel rods might still be boiling, though the reported levels of radiation had dropped dramatically by evening.

Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water. It had not been emitted directly by fuel rods, which would be far more virulent, they said.

"It's not good, but I don't think it's a disaster," said Steve Crossley, an Australia-based radiation physicist.

The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said. But they acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers.

Late Tuesday, officials at the plant said they were considering asking for help from the U.S. and Japanese militaries to spray water from helicopters into the pool.

Read More and See Videos...

  1. Japan earthquake
    1. Two more reactors unstable at nuke plant

      Updated 1 minutes ago 3/15/2011 7:41:43 PM +00:00 Already dealing with overheating at three reactors and a spent fuel pool, engineers at a stricken nuclear complex were worried about the possibility of blasts at two other reactors.

    2. Updated 69 minutes ago 3/15/2011 6:34:24 PM +00:00 Millions in Japan struggle without electricity, heat
    3. Updated 80 minutes ago 3/15/2011 6:23:24 PM +00:00 Panic grips Tokyo as radiation levels rise
    4. Japan radioactivity could enter food chain
    5. Updated 106 minutes ago 3/15/2011 5:57:28 PM +00:00 Woman, 70, found alive 4 days after tsunami
    6. Nuclear crisis in Japan borders on catastrophe

      Updated 21 minutes ago 3/15/2011 7:22:04 PM +00:00 Chris Jansing reports from Tokyo on the latest developments happening at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant after an explosion at Unit 4 opened two large holes in the plant.

    7. Time-lapse of  aftershocks

      Since the 9.0-magnitude quake, Japan has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks.

    8. Images of chaos, destruction

      9.0-magnitude earthquake, tsunami cause enormous damage.

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