Tepco admits two more meltdowns at Fukushima plant

May 25th, 2011 - 4:30 am ICT by BNO News  

TOKYO (BNO NEWS) — The Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), which operates the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant, on Tuesday admitted two more nuclear meltdowns occurred at Units 2 and 3.

The cores of reactors 2 and 3 melted but temperature readings, ranging from about 100 to 110 degrees, taken in the two units indicate that they remain inside the pressure vessels. The melted cores were cooled by injected water.

“We think the damage is limited considering the temperature data of the pressure vessels,” Tepco spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said. “Most of the melted cores appear to be at the bottom of the pressure vessels, and we don’t think there are any big holes.”

According to the Japan Times, the melting of the cores may have damaged pipelines or other parts of Units 2 and 3. On May 12, a nuclear meltdown occurred at the Unit 1 reactor of the troubled Fukushima plant.

Matsumoto added that they are investigating two possible scenarios. The first involves a malfunctioning of the water level indicators which prevented coolant water from reaching the position of fuel rods, similar to what occurred to Unit 1 reactor.

The other theory assumes that at least part of the nuclear fuel rods in the reactor are still covered with water, as temperature readings suggested. If the latter scenario took place at Units 2 and 3, only a part of the fuel rods would have melted.

“We had already expected that the situation at the No. 2 and 3 reactors was similar to the No. 1 reactor,” said Kazuhiko Kudo, a professor of nuclear engineering at Kyushu University. “Tepco’s announcement just clearly confirmed what we had already anticipated.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency remarked that the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant remains very serious. ON Tuesday, Japan’s Prime Minister Kan said “it is unlikely that the country will build new nuclear plants after the Fukushima crisis.

The government approved a 4 trillion yen ($48.89 billion) emergency budget to finance the early phase of reconstruction. In addition, the evacuation zone was expanded beyond the initial 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) radius surrounding the damaged plant.

At least 14,294 people were killed, while some 13,000 people remain missing due to devastating earthquake and tsunami. Japanese officials have called it the worst crisis since the end of World War II.

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