News @ AsiaOne

Fukushima reactor shell breached

Two 'successive explosions' today probably caused damage to the confinement vessel. -AFP

Tue, Mar 15, 2011
Reuters, AFP

PARIS - THE concrete vessel around the No. 2 reactor at Japan's Fukushima plant, designed to contain radioactive debris, is 'no longer sealed,' Andre-Claude Lacoste, head of France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), said on Tuesday.

Mr Lacoste was speaking at a press conference in which he also said the accident at Fukushima now rated six on a seven-point international scale of gravity, placing it second to Chernobyl as the world's worst nuclear disaster.

The ASN is being briefed by the Japanese authorities and by a specialist from France's Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), according to the agency.

The confinement vessel, made out of reinforced concrete, surrounds the steel vessel that houses the nuclear reactor. It is designed to contain radioactive gas or dust, preventing them from being expelled into the air.

In a press statement, the ASN said two 'successive explosions, at 6.10am (5am Singapore time) and 10.00am local time probably caused damage to the confinement vessel which is the source of the significant increase in detected radioactive releases.'

The operators of a crippled nuclear power plant may pour water into the overheating fuel pool in the No. 4 reactor within two or three days, the plant operator said. It did not say why it had to wait two or three days.

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