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Caution given of possible leak


CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Caution given of possible leak

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Tokyo (CNN) — The containment structure surrounding one of the reactors at a quake-battered nuclear power plant is damaged and may be leaking radioactive material, the Japanese government’s point man on the crisis said today.
The plant’s owner disclosed that small amounts of plutonium had been found among contaminants around the facility today as Japanese authorities struggled to explain how radioactive water was leaking into maintenance tunnels and possibly, into the Pacific Ocean.
Yukio Edano, Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, told reporters this afternoon that “there may be a leak” from the containment vessel surrounding the No. 2 reactor. He said experts were still trying to determine the condition of the reactor’s pressure vessel, which sits inside the containment vessel and immediately surrounds the radioactive fuel rods at the reactor’s core.
“Somehow, we understand water is being moved from one place to another,” Edano said. “We need to hear an explanation from experts.”
Reactors 1-3 at the plant, located about 240 km (140 miles) north of Tokyo, are believed to have suffered core damage after their cooling systems were knocked out by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northern Japan. The tsunami knocked out backup generators that ran their coolant systems and damaged water pumps at the plant, forcing workers to scramble to prevent a meltdown.

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