TIME: More Damage Than Expected at Fukushima Reactor 1
May 13, 2011
Time Magazine reports that TEPCO has admitted that nuclear meltdown problems at the Fukushima Reactor 1 are worse than previously reported:
Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced on Thursday that the damage to fuel rods inside Unit 1’s reactor core is worse than the utility previously thought. Despite the fact that workers at the plant have been pouring tons of water into the reactor since its cooling system was destroyed over two months ago, water levels inside the pressure vessel, where fuel rods are stored, are lower than expected. The low water levels mean that the remaining intact fuel rods are probably fully exposed, and others have already at least partially melted and “slumped” to the bottom of the containment vessel, where they are underwater.
Greenpeace International Nuclear Campaign Leader Jan Beránek said this about the news:
“Earlier readings of water levels, temperatures and pressure Fukushima Reactor 1 lead to assumptions by the authorities that reactors 1, 2 and 3 were stabilizing. What we are now seeing is that at least some water level readings were entirely wrong. As the fuel rods were fully exposed and subsequently melted, it is highly likely that the core’s integrity is compromised and that there is larger amount of melted fuel at the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel. The situation is clearly far more serious than previously reported, and could escalate rapidly if the lava melts through the reactor vessel. This is yet another reminder that nuclear technology is inherently unsafe, and that there are no practical means of limiting the scale of damage when crises like Fukushima occur.”