Japanese officials battling dual disasters raced against time Sunday to contain a potentially catastrophic failure at a nuclear plant while rescue workers battled a panorama of devastation to locate some of the more than 10,000 unaccounted for following Friday’s monster earthquake and tsunami.
A meltdown may be underway at one of Fukushima Daiichi’s nuclear power reactors, an official with Japan’s safety agency said early Sunday local time, according to CNN.
However, the Japanese ambassador to the US, Ichiro Fujisaki, said on CNN, “we do not see any evidence of that (meltdown).”
~ Japan is not being forthright! ~JP
At the same time, AFP reported The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said Sunday the cooling system of a reactor at the plant was not working and risked a possible explosion.
It was not clear if this was the same reactor that was reported to possibly be in meltdown, which would mean a catastrophic failure of the reactor core that could lead it to spew out radiation.
Potentially complicating things more, Japan was hit by a 6.3-magnitude aftershock about 7:12 a.m. local time Sunday, with the epicenter of the tremor just 82 miles from Fukushima and its stricken reactor, the US Geological Survey said.
On Saturday, an explosion sent huge clouds of smoke billowing into the air at the Fukushima plant, triggering fears of a meltdown on the heels of the 8.9 earthquake – one of the largest in history – that spawned a 30-foot wall of water so ferocious it washed away whole towns.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN Nuclear watchdog, said it had been told by Japanese authorities that the explosion occurred outside the primary containment vessel. Four workers were reported injured in the explosion, it said.
Top government officials, announcing they would use seawater to attempt to cool the reactor, tried to reassure the nation.
“The latest explosion wasn’t of a kind that would come with a significant leakage of radiation,” Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said at a news conference, The Wall Street Journal reported. “It’s our expectation that we can bring this nuclear-power plant under control, using this unprecedented step of filling the containment structure with seawater.”