Japan nuclear crisis: ‘Fukushima 50’ face new setback
The “Fukushima Fifty,” the group of Japanese workers battling the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, faced a new setback following a spike in pressure at one of the reactors they are trying to contain.
By Nick Allen
20 Mar 2011
It occurred in a holding vessel around reactor three at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant, and forced engineers to consider releasing more radioactive material into the atmosphere. A similar tactic produced explosions during the early days of the crisis.
Officials warned that a release of radiation this time would be larger than in previous releases because more nuclear fuel had degraded.
They said the process could involve the emission of a cloud dense with iodine, as well as the radioactive elements krypton and xenon.
Tepco, the plant operator, temporarily suspended the venting plan after pressure inside the reactor stopped climbing, but said it was still at a high level.
Hikaru Kuroda, a Tepco manager, said temperatures inside reactor three, which contains highly toxic plutonium, had reached 572F (300C) but had “stabilised” after seawater was continuously pumped in to keep it cool.