Blast rocks Japanese nuclear power plant, reactor container not damaged

Video image of smoke rising from Fukushima plant No 1 after an explosion at the Japanese nuclear power station. Photograph: NTV Japan/AP

TOKYO (BNO NEWS) — An explosion rocked the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan on Saturday afternoon, officials said, but the critical reactor container was not seriously damaged.

Japanese government officials said the explosion happened around 3.30 p.m. local time, causing the roof and walls of a building housing the reactor’s container to collapse. However, Japanese officials claimed there was no serious damage to the reactor container itself.

Initial fears of a potentially catastrophic nuclear disaster were rejected by Japanese officials, who said there was no major health threat from the amount of radiation being released. The Kyodo news agency said the hourly radiation from the plant reached 1,015 micro sievert in its premises before the explosion, an amount equivalent to that allowable for ordinary people in one year.

And although the radiation outside the plant was said to be much less, officials nonetheless ordered a precautionary evacuation of about 20 kilometers (12 miles) around the facility. A 10 kilometer (6.2 miles) radius evacuation was also ordered at another nearby power plant, which is also under a state of emergency due to problems with its cooling system.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Japanese authorities had informed its Incident and Emergency Center that non-radioactive iodine would be distributed to areas near the two troubled power plants. “The authorities also say they are making preparations to distribute iodine to residents in the area of both the plants,” IAEA said in a statement.

Radioactive iodine is a potential component of nuclear fallout, and a dangerous one due to the thryroid gland’s propensity to concentrate iodine from the bloodstream, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). For this reason if people are expected to be exposed to a large dose of radioactive iodine, they may be instructed to take non-radioactive potassium iodide tablets.

By ingesting a large amount of non-radioactive iodine, the proportion of radioactive iodine taken into the thyroid gland may be minimized. This is one way to try to mitigate the health impact of exposure to fallout, if it would occur.

The emergency situations at the nuclear power plants are the result of a great 8.9-magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on Friday afternoon. It unleashed giant tsunamis that slammed into the coastlines of Japan, killing more than 900 people and leaving thousands more missing. The tsunamis also killed two other people in Indonesia and the U.S. state of California, both whom were swept out to sea.

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  1. only
    March 14, 2011

    2 power plants have exploded. Radiation is all over the place.

  2. good grace
    March 12, 2011


    Admin: the words “BNO News” are at the top of the story. BNO News is a wire service like AP.

  3. Anonymous
    March 12, 2011

    A few hours ago when I heard the nuclear power plant in Japan was spewing clouds of radiation I knew it was a meltdown happening, even though in the news they said they had it “under control”. I knew it was a load of crap because once those nuclear fuel rods begin to melt, you’re pretty much screwed.

    So the thing exploded an hour ago. Now the Jap gov is trying to do some damage control by saying the following:

    “since the explosion, radiation has actually gone down around the nuclear power plant!” (hahah!)

    and my favorite…
    “it’s not the reactor that just exploded, it’s only *the walls of the building*. everything else is fine!”

    It reminds me of that movie 2012 when the protagonist mentions that when the government says everything is ok, that’s when you run. hahah!

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