FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Nuclear plant operators trying to avoid complete reactor meltdowns said Thursday that they were close to completing a new power line that might end Japans crisis, but several ominous signs have also emerged: a surge in radiation levels, unexplained white smoke and spent fuel rods that U.S. officials said could be on the verge of spewing radioactive material.U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in Washington on Wednesday that all the water was gone from the spent fuel pools at Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, but Japanese officials denied it. Hajime Motojuku, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the "condition is stable" at Unit 4.If Jaczko is correct, it would mean theres nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shells of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area.
Read the rest of the story: US says plants spent fuel rods dry; Japan says no.