Quakedamaged nuclear reactors at risk

first_imgJapanese authorities said Sunday that efforts to restart the cooling system at one of the nuclear reactors damaged by Friday’s earthquake had failed, even as officials struggled to bring several other damaged reactors under control.In an effort to relieve pressure at the failing reactor, Fukushima Daiichi’s unit 3, the utility said it released “air containing radioactive materials.” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said radiation at the reactor exceeded legal limits and that it was “highly possible” a partial meltdown was under way.“Because it’s inside the reactor, we cannot directly check it, but we are taking measures on the assumption of the possible partial meltdown,” he told reporters, according to the Associated Press.Hours before Edano’s remarks, authorities began evacuating more than 200,000 residents from a 12.5-mile radius around two nuclear power complexes, made preparations to distribute potassium iodide pills, and warned people in the vicinity to stay inside and cover their mouths if they ventured outdoors.Tokyo Electric Power Co., owner of the two heavily damaged complexes, took the unprecedented step of pumping seawater mixed with boric acid into the core of another reactor, Fukushima Daiichi’s unit 1 reactor, to tame ultra-high temperatures from fuel rods that had been partially exposed. In keeping with the natural as well as mechanical challenges of the week, the company had to delay the plan briefly after another, more mild, earthquake rocked the area and led to another tsunami warning.last_img read more