SCIENTISTS SAY the fight to bring Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant under control could take three months or more, even if not hampered by further earthquakes. The announcement comes after another day of aftershocks, including one with an epicentre about 25km from the Fukushima plant.
The head of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Takashi Sawada, said yesterday that fuel rods in reactors 1 and 3 have melted and settled at the bottom of their containment vessels, confirming fears that the plant suffered a partial meltdown after last month’s huge earthquake and tsunami.
Engineers have been struggling since to bring four reactors under control by pouring water onto overheating nuclear fuel, and that water is highly contaminated as a result. Mr Sawada warned the condition of the plant could worsen if another strong quake knocks out power to its cooling systems.
“That would destabilise pressure and temperatures inside the reactors and the situation would become extremely unpredictable again,” he said.
The nuclear crisis is adding to the political woes of embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who yesterday inaugurated a council of experts charged with leading Japan’s reconstruction from the triple disaster, which has left 28,000 dead or missing and 150,000 people homeless.
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