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Nuke fuel has melted through base of tsunami hit Fukushima plant

June 9, 2011 - Tokyo

Nuclear fuel in three of the reactors at the earthquake-cum-tsunami hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has melted through the base of the pressure vessels and is getting accumulated in the outer containment vessels, a Japanese government report has claimed.

The findings of the report, which has been given to the International Atomic Energy Agency, has revealed that the "melt-through" is "far worse than a core meltdown" and "the worst possibility in a nuclear accident," The Telegraph reports.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Corporation has said that the company is presently revising the road-map for bringing the plant under control, including the time required to achieve cold shutdown of the reactors.

According to the report, the pressure vessel of the No. 1 reactor had suffered damage just five hours after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, contrary to TEPCO's earlier estimation that it was damaged 15 hours later.

Melt-downs of the fuel in the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors followed over the following days with the molten fuel collecting at the bottom of the pressure vessels before burning through and into the external steel containment vessels.

Meanwhile, the spokesman expressed hope that the company would be able to settle down problems at the plant by October.

Water that was pumped into the pressure vessels to cool the fuel rods, becoming highly radioactive in the process, has been confirmed to have leaked out of the containment vessels and outside the buildings that house the reactors.

TEPCO said it is trying to contain the contaminated water and prevent it from leaking into the sea.


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