Nuclear catastrophe averted in Japan, official


Fears of a nuclear meltdown in Japan have subsided after a reactor that was damaged in Friday’s devastating earthquake reportedly emerged intact from an explosion.

In these combo images made from Japan’s NHK television, the Fukushima Daiichi power plant’s Unit 1 is seen before (top) and after (bottom) an explosion in Okumamachi, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, Saturday, March 12, 2011. The walls of the building at the nuclear power station crumbled Saturday as smoke poured out and Japanese officials said they feared the reactor could melt down following the failure of its cooling system in a powerful earthquake and tsunami.
A day after the country was thrown into chaos by a fierce tsunami triggered by the largest earthquake in Japan’s history, the country was, for a few terrifying hours, bracing itself for a possible nuclear catastrophe.

Television cameras captured the moment that smoke poured from what at first appeared to be one of four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, located 150 miles north of Tokyo.

After a few nerve-wracking hours, however, the government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said the damage had been confined to the walls and roof surrounding the reactor, sparing its metal casing.

The chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, told a televised press conference that radiation around the plant had, in fact, started to decrease.

A “tiny” amount of radiation had leaked earlier in the day when officials attempted to relieve pressure inside the reactor.

“We have confirmed that the walls of this building were what exploded, and not the reactor’s container,” Edano said, adding, “There was no large amount of radiation leakage outside. At this point, there has been no major change to the level of radiation leakage outside, so we’d like everyone to respond calmly.”




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