Explosion at Nuclear Power Plant Follows Sendai Earthquake
The BBC has just posted video footage of a large explosion at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant. The explosion happened at 6pm local time today, Saturday March 12, 2011.
Three of the six reactors at the plant were running yesterday, and all of the nuclear reactors at the plant automatically shut down during the powerful magnitude 8.9 earthquake. But the diesel-fuel powered cooling system put in place to keep the reactor cool appears to have shut down due to tsunami flooding. This caused the temperature and pressure levels in the plant to rise to dangerous levels.
Right now it is unclear exactly where the explosion occurred. Early reports say the concrete building surrounding one of the Fukushima reactors has collapsed, but the metal housing of the reactor itself is still intact. Seawater is apparently being pumped into the reactor to keep it cool and prevent further pressure buildup and another explosion.
If early reports from Japanese officials are correct and the radioactive core is still contained, this reduces the possibility of a major radioactive leak on the scale of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. Both the plant and the surrounding area were evacuated well before the explosion, but early reports indicate that at least four plant workers may have been injured.