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Japan dealing with nuclear reactors


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Japan dealing with nuclear reactors

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Tokyo (CNN) — Crews at a nuclear plant struck by an earthquake, then a tsunami and then an explosion in the span of 36 hours resorted today to flooding a feverish nuclear reactor with sea water in hopes of preventing a meltdown of its core.
An explosion that sent white smoke rising above the Fukushima Daiichi plant this afternoon buckled the walls of a concrete building that surrounded one of the plant’s nuclear reactors, but did not damage the reactor itself, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.
The explosion was caused, he said, by a failure in a pumping system as workers tried to prevent the reactor’s temperature from racing out of control.
While Edano said radiation levels appeared to be falling after the explosion, the government nevertheless ordered an expanded evacuation of the area around the Daiichi plant, as well as a second facility where the cooling system had failed — the Fukushima Daini plant.
Three patients at a hospital tested positive for radiation exposure, according to the Japanese public broadcasting station NHK, citing a statement from Fukushima Prefecture.

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The three were randomly selected from a group of 90 hospital workers and patients who were already at the medical facility — about three kilometers from the Daiichi plant — before Friday’s massive quake. The patients were outside of the hospital awaiting evacuation at the time of the explosion.
While the three showed signed of exposure, “no abnormal health conditions have been observed,” NHK quoted the prefecture as saying.
Although government officials painted a hopeful picture, saying crews had begun implementing a backup plan to flood the reactor containment structure with sea water, a nuclear expert said the situation is dire even if it is already under control.

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