Tokyo Notes

Nuclear Plant Explosion in Japan

Reports are emerging of an explosion at a nuclear power plant in Japan that was damaged after yesterday’s earthquake.

Japanese media is reporting that there has been an explosion at one of the Fukushima nuclear power plants worst affected by yesterday’s massive earthquake.

Quoting Japan’s Jiji news agency, Reuters has just reported that there has been an explosion at the Daichi 1 reactor, and it noted TV footage showing vapour rising from the plant.

Reuters reported:

‘The blast came as plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. worked desperately to reduce pressures in the core of the reactor that — if not contained — could lead to a release of radiation into the atmosphere.

‘"An unchecked rise in temperature could cause the core to essentially turn into a molten mass that could burn through the reactor vessel," risk information service Stratfor said in a report. "This may lead to a release of an unchecked amount of radiation into the containment building that surrounds the reactor."

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NHK television and Jiji said the outer structure of the building that houses the reactor appeared to have blown off, which could suggest the containment building had already been breached.’

It’s still too early to say how serious the explosion is, and whether it indicates that some kind of meltdown is imminent. An analyst from Chatham House suggested on CNN a few minutes ago that the explosion could be an unwelcome, but not disastrous, complication. He added that if the worst is occurring, it should quickly become evident in terms of radiation levels being reported.

We’ll keep you posted.