Second explosion at nuclear plant, but another Chernobyl unlikely
Tokyo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A second explosion took place this morning in Fukushima nuclear plant, damaged by the earthquake last week. The government, however, reassures that there is no further increase in radiation. Some scientists believe that there are no risks of a nuclear similar to that of Chernobyl.
The explosion today involved the No. 3 reactor, two days ago it was reactor No 1. The explosions are the result of earthquake damage to the cooling system, but the heart of the reactor remains intact. The authorities claim that the radiation level has not increased, although nine workers were injured by the explosion. Meanwhile, sea water is being injected to cool the rooms where radioactive material is contained.
Government spokesman Yukio Edan said that 500 people were evacuated from the area around the No. 3 reactor, within a radius of 20 km. In recent days, 210,000 people have been evacuated.
Professor Aidan Byrne, director of the College of Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra, interviewed by ABC, down played the possibility that the explosions in Fukushima could lead to a disaster similar to Chernobyl, where in 1986 an uncontrolled nuclear fission led to the reactors’ explosion, spreading radioactive dust over Europe.
Byrne says that unlike Chernobyl, the Fukushima reactors have a containment vessel around them, in addition, the reactors have been shut down and control rods have been inserted stopping the fission chain reaction. The main concern is if the reactor is not cooled down, the radioisotopes in the fuel rods and decay-heat will heat up the container. As long as there is potential for cooling, the danger of melting can be excluded.
Currently only 22 people have been treated for exposure to radiation.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation at the nuclear plant was alarming, and the earthquake had thrown Japan into "the most severe crisis since World War II". As of today, the government has advised people not to go to work or school because the transport system may be overloaded.
Aftershocks are still being felt in capital and there are warnings of other possible strong earthquakes.
Estimates for reconstruction are around tens of billions of U.S. dollars. The government has announced an injection of 182 billion dollars into the economy to support the markets. The Tokyo Stock Exchange lost six points just before closing.