Radioactive Nuclear Reactor Core Melts Through Containment Vessel Floor

Just hours after the Prime Minister of Japan declares a “maximum alert” due to plutonium leaking from a reactor breach the Guardian is reports a nuclear reactor core has melted through the containment vessel floor.

The news comes alongside another NY Times article reporting a huge crack in another containment vessel that may prevent workers from ever containing the nuclear disaster.

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

Ian Sample, science correspondent, Tuesday 29 March 2011 16.53 BST

Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel – but ‘no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe’

Highly radioactive water is now being detected outside the containment area at Fukushima, experts have warned. Photograph: Tepco/AFP/Getty Images

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor below, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

Richard Lahey, who has worked on the plant at Fukushima, told the Guardian officials seemed to have “lost the race” to save the reactor, but added that there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe

At Fukushima, workers have been pumping water into three reactors in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down. But Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at the plant, said his analysis of radiation levels suggested these attempts had failed at reactor two.

He said at least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel “lower head” of the pressure vessel and on to the concrete floor below.

“The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell,” Lahey said. “I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards.”

The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it will react with the concrete floor of the drywell, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.

Lahey said: “It won’t come out as one big glob; it’ll come out like lava, and that is good because it’s easier to cool.”

“The reason we are concerned is that they are detecting water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and it can only have come from the reactor core,” Lahey added. “It’s not going to be anything like Chernobyl, where it went up with a big fire and steam explosion, but it’s not going to be good news for the environment.”

The radiation level at a pool of water in the turbine room of reactor two was measured recently at 1,000 millisieverts per hour. At that level, workers could remain in the area for just 15 minutes, under current exposure guidelines.

The warning came as the Japanese authorities were being urged to give clearer advice to the public about the safety of food and drinking water contaminated with radioactive substances from Fukushima.

“What is fundamentally disturbing the public is reports of drinking water one day being above some limit, and then a day or two later it’s suddenly safe to drink. People don’t know if the first instance was alarmist or whether the second one was untrue,” said Gale.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

Some icing for the cake…

Can you guess the US Corporate media’s headlines HOURS after this news has broke?

Here’s CNN’s Japan Nuclear Disaster Headline HOURS after this story has broke…

CNN Headline During News Of Nuclear Reactor Core Burning Through Containment Vessel Floor

So why is the US corporate media being so quiet about this while it is all over the UK news papers?

You should really read this for my thoughts on that.

Categories: FUKUSHIMA

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