A crisis continued Tuesday at the troubled No. 2 reactor at the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, as fuel rods became fully exposed again after workers recovered water levels to cover half of them in a bid to prevent overheating. The plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said steam vents of the pressure container of the reactor that houses the rods were closed probably due to the battery problem, raising fears that its core will melt at a faster pace.The firm said it will first lower the pressure of the reactor by releasing radioactive steam and open the vents with new batteries to resume the operation to inject seawater to cool down the reactor.Earlier, cooling functions of the reactor failed, causing water levels to sharply fall and fully exposing the fuel rods for about 140 minutes. TEPCO said they could not pour water into the reactor soon as it took time for workers to release steam from the reactor to lower its pressure, the governments nuclear safety agency said.As TEPCO began pouring coolant water into the reactor, water levels went up at one point to cover more than half of the rods that measure about 4 meters.Prior to the second full exposure of the rods around 11 p.m. Monday, radiation was detected at 9:37 p.m. at a level twice the maximum seen so far— 3,130 micro sievert per hour — near the main gate of the No. 1 plant, according to TEPCO.
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