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March 12, 2011

Meltdown May Be Underway; Reactor Containment Dome Building Blown Away

Above the post update: The containment dome on Fukushima #1 has been blown down. Radiation has leaked; people have been evacuated, but the good thing is the wind has been from the west all day. (The plant is located next to the ocean on the east side of Japan.) See the latest updates below for more information.

Thanks to Vic and Laurie David's Cervix for the video. Here is another video comparing before and after pictures of the plant.

Above the post update: I've been saying "containment dome." I'm not an expert on power plant construction. The large box on the exterior of Fukushima #1 has been damaged. Also, a commentator on Fox is reporting that it is not likely the reactor itself is damaged--yet he also says there are reports the core has been exposed. Given the size and energy of the explosion, it is hard to believe there is no reactor damage. The important thing is to keep in mind is that some of these things will have to be pinned down with greater certainty later.

Andy Levy tweets:

RT @W7VOA RT @Martyn_Williams RT @dicklp: Nuclear expert tells The Times: meltdown has technically begun at Fukushima.

Lots more buzz on Twitter. Nothing at major outlets yet. Found this at the CTPost:

TOKYO (AP) — An official with Japan's nuclear safety commission says that a meltdown at nuclear power plant affected by the country's massive earthquake is possible.

Ryohei Shiomi said Saturday that officials were checking whether a meltdown had taken place at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, which had lost cooling ability in the aftermath of Friday's powerful earthquake.

From the BeaconNews:

SENDAI, Japan — A nuclear power plant affected by a massive earthquake is facing a possible meltdown, an official with Japan’s nuclear safety commission said Saturday.

Ryohei Shiomi said that officials were checking whether a meltdown had taken place at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s Unit 1, which had lost cooling ability in the aftermath of Friday’s powerful earthquake.

Allahpundit has more. Apparently they're using water out of a fire truck. Terrible business.

From FoxNews.com:

Ryohei Shiomi said Saturday that officials were checking whether a meltdown had taken place at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, which had lost cooling ability in the aftermath of Friday's powerful earthquake.

Some 3,000 people within two miles of the plant were urged to leave their homes, but the evacuation zone was more than tripled to 6.2 miles after authorities detected eight times the normal radiation levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal inside Unit 1's control room.

Update: From NHK, uranium may be melting:

The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says 2 radioactive substances, cesium and radioactive iodine, have been detected near the Number One reactor at the Fukushima Number One nuclear power station.

The agency says this indicates that some of the metal containers of uranium fuel may have started melting.
The substances are produced by fuel fission.

University of Tokyo Professor Naoto Sekimura says only a small part of the fuel may have melted and leaked outside.

Update: Commenter Vic says things are stabilizing:

TEPCO has a new press release out. No mention of melting and they say radiation levels off site are normal.

They say off site power is available and the cooling systems are switching to normal mode for all.

Update: But! Explosion heard, according to Reuters:

FLASH: Explosion heard at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi plant around 0630 GMT - media

AFP has the same news:

Explosion heard at quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan - AFP via Sky News

According to Reuters, several people are injured.

Update: Commenter Ace's Liver provided this photo. I can't be certain it's the Fukushima plant, and I can't vouch for what it depicts or when it was taken:

Ace's Liver says he has a friend in Japan who is saying Fukushima #1 is gone.

Update: Damn. It's the real deal, folks. From Breaking News:

Japan nuclear plant update: Walls and roof of a building at site destroyed by blast - NHK via Sky News

From the Herald Sun:

UPDATE 7.35pm: FOUR people have been injured in an explosion that occurred at the No. 1 reactor of the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday.

The explosion was heard at 3:36 p.m. following large tremors and white smoke was seen at the facility in Fukushima Prefecture, the company said.

The four workers were working to deal with problems caused by a powerful earthquake that hit northeastern Japan on Friday. However there is no word on injured worker's condition, Jiji says.

Radioactivity at the plant was 20 times over the normal level, and Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission has said it may be experiencing meltdown.

There's a time zone difference, but I don't understand the two times given in that quote--the four hour difference.

Update: Better video and nice analysis from the BBC.

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