Update: It's possible that a meltdown may already have occurred at one nuclear power plant. As AP wrote 4 minutes ago:
official with Japan's nuclear safety commission says that a meltdown
at nuclear power plant affected by the country's massive earthquake is
Ryohei Shiomi said Saturday that officials were checking whether a meltdown had taken place at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, which had lost cooling ability in the aftermath of Friday's powerful earthquake.
Japanese nuclear authorities said that
there was a high possibility that nuclear fuel rods at a reactor
at Tokyo Electric Power's Daiichi plant may be melting
or have melted, Jiji news agency reported.
said that if the fuel rods have been damaged, it means that it could
develop into a breach of the nuclear reactor vessel and the question
then becomes one of how strong the containment structure around the
vessel is and whether it has been undermined by the earthquake.
In addition, there are problems at three Japanese nuclear power plants.
The Fukushima plant is leaking radiation, and a nuclear expert says that things are getting worse, and "Fukushima has 24 hours to avoid a core meltdown scenario". (See Tyler Durden's report).
situation is still several stages away from Three Mile Island when the
reactor container ceased to function as it should," said Tomoko
Murakami, leader of the nuclear energy group at Japan's Institute of
Two other Japanese nuclear reactors are now in trouble as well. Two other Japanese nuclear reactors are now in trouble as well [UPDATE: It is now up to 5 nuclear reactors].
As MSNBC notes:
systems failed at three quake-stricken Japanese nuclear reactors
Saturday, sending radiation seeping outside one and temperatures rising
out of control at two others.
surged to around 1,000 times the normal level in the control room of
the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daichi plant, Japan's Nuclear and
Industrial Safety Agency said. Radiation — it was not clear how much —
had also seeped outside, prompting widening of an evacuation area to a
six-mile radius from a two-mile radius around the plant. Earlier, 3,000
people had been urged to leave their homes.
Power Co. said Saturday that the temperatures of its No.1 and No.2
reactors at its Fukushima Daini nuclear power station were rising, and
it had lost control over pressure in the reactors.
an hour after the plant shut down, however, the emergency diesel
generators stopped, leaving the units with no power for important
Hours after the evacuation order,
the government announced that the plant will release slightly
radioactive vapor from the unit to lower the pressure in an effort to
protect it from a possible meltdown.
Good luck to the Japanese scientists bravely trying to avert catastrophe. As MSNBC notes:
Japan has a "tremendous amount of technical capability and resources" to respond to the issue ....