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Fukushima nuclear catastrophe closer than thought/ The Australian

Posted Dec 01 2011 7:25pm
The Japanese government and TEPCO have released new information (based on simulations, however) on the extent of damage to the Fukushima nuclear reactors.  The Australian reports on the catastrophe
MOLTEN nuclear fuel in one reactor at Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant burned through the steel pressure vessel and three-quarters of the surrounding concrete containment vessel that formed the reactor's last substantial internal barrier...

... In the case of the No 1 reactor, any fuel that escaped the secondary concrete vessel would have landed on a protective steel plate. Had it burned through that, it would then have confronted a 10m thick steel foundation beyond which lays ordinary soil.

The TEPCO and government analyses - which may not be the final word on the extent of the meltdown - showed that the fuel burned through a total of about 2m of the 2.6m thick secondary containment vessel.

The operator and the government agencies in charge of regulating the nuclear industry have consistently underestimated the severity of events at the plant...

More than 80,000 people have been forced out their homes as a result of the disaster, which ranks second only to the 1986 Chernobyl incident in terms of severity. Japan has also been forced to endure a run of food scares thanks to radioactive cesium deposited across wide areas around the plant.

The Japanese government has conceded that it may take 30 years to fully decommission the plant and that some areas around it may be uninhabitable for decades...
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