State of emergency declared at Fukushima plant

Padangekspres.net-Friday's devastating earthquake in the Tohoku region may have created a dangerous situation at two nuclear reactors in Fukushima Prefecture.

Officials of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency were informed by Tokyo Electric Power Co. that the emergency core cooling system was not working at two reactors.

In addition, another mechanism that had been used to send water to the core also stopped at 8:30 p.m.

If the cores are not sufficiently cooled, there is a danger of a possible core meltdown.

At a news conference Friday night, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said a state of emergency at a nuclear facility was declared at 4:36 p.m.

It is the first time such a state of emergency has been declared.

According to NISA officials, although the reactor core stopped operations after the earthquake hit, water had to be inserted to the core to cool it because heat continued to be emitted from the nuclear fuel.

Although workers had to initiate emergency core cooling system procedures, the lack of an external power source and the failure of an emergency generator crippled the system that circulates water to the core to cool it.

TEPCO officials dispatched 51 generator vehicles to the reactors in an attempt to restore power. One vehicle reached one of the nuclear reactors late Friday and some of that reactor's power was restored.

At 9:23 p.m., the central government issued an evacuation instruction for residents living within a 3-kilometer radius of the No. 1 Fukushima nuclear power plant as well as an instruction to residents living within a radius of between 3 and 10 kilometers to remain indoors.

Edano said no radiation leakage had been detected.

The company issued an emergency evacuation order for the two reactors at the No. 1 Fukushima nuclear power plant. Officials from local communities gathered at a special monitoring facility in Okuma to oversee the cooling of the cores.

There was also the possibility that seawater pumps for cooling purposes may have stopped at two reactors at the No. 2 Fukushima nuclear power plant.

If those pumps remain inoperational, it could affect the emergency core cooling systems at those reactors as well.

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