Meltdown Threat Grows – 45,000 Evacuated

Japanese officials are issuing broad evacuation orders for people living near two nuclear power plants whose cooling systems have collapsed as a result of the earthquake, The New York Times reported.

Small amounts of radioactive material are now likely to lead from the plants.

The two plants, known as Daiichi and Daini experienced critical failures of the backup generators needed to power cooling systems after the plants were shut down, as they were during the quake.

An estimated 45,000 people are now being evacuated from around the Daiichi plant, where those living within a six-mile radius were told to leave. The evacuation of the second plant was for a one-mile radius because “there is no sign that radiation has been emitted outside,” an official said.

The cooling system failure allowed pressure to build up beyond the design capacity of the reactors. Radioactive vapor was expected to be released into the atmosphere to prevent damage to the containment systems, safety officials said. But officials say that the levels of radiation were not large enough to threaten the health of people outside the plants, and that the evacuations had been ordered merely as a precaution.

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Japan – Radioactive steam could be released from troubled nuclear plant

Japanese authorities are nearing a decision to release radioactive steam from a troubled nuclear reactor, industry minister Benri Kaieda said Saturday.Kaieda was referring to the rising pressure inside the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was hit by a powerful earthquake Friday.

Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa on Friday ordered the Self-Defense Forces to act in response to the state of atomic power emergency declared following a powerful earthquake.

The SDF will send aircraft on a fact-finding mission near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant as some 3,000 residents nearby have been ordered to evacuate due to a problem with a cooling system detected at one of its reactors.

Tepco nuclear power plant starts power output with MOX fuel

FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) Power generation using plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel started at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Thursday morning, the utility said.

The No. 3 reactor at the plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, is the third in Japan for MOX fuel power generation, known as "pluthermal," with the others at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture and Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture.

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