Meltdown alert at Japan reactor: Explosion heard at Third Nuclear Plant
SOMA, Japan — A third explosion in four days rocked the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeast Japan early Tuesday, the country's nuclear safety agency said.From the BBC:
The blast at Dai-ichi Unit 2 followed two hydrogen explosions at the plant — the latest on Monday — as authorities struggle to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami.
The latest explosion was heard at 6:10 a.m. Tuesday (2110 GMT Monday), a spokesman for the Nuclear Safety Agency said at a news conference. The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the explosion occurred near the suppression pool in the reactor's containment vessel. The pool was later found to have a defect.
Hot Air:Technicians are battling to stabilise a third reactor at a quake-stricken Japanese nuclear plant that has been rocked by a second blast in three days.Sea water is being pumped into reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant after its fuel rods were fully exposed twice.
International nuclear watchdogs said there was no sign of a meltdown but one minister said a melting of rods was "highly likely" to be happening.
Update: If one of these reactors is destined to melt down, better that it be this one than reactor number three.
But the situation a reactor No. 3 was being closely watched for another reason. That reactor uses a special mix of known as MOX fuel. MOX is considered contentious because it is made with reprocessed plutonium and uranium oxides. Any radioactive plume from that fuel would be more dangerous than ordinary nuclear fuel, experts say, because inhaling plutonium even in very small quantities is considered lethal.