Japan Tsunami

Japan Averts Meltdown Crisis at Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Plant

Tokyo (Xinhua): Japanese authorities have successfully released pressure from the quake-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor and thus avert a potentially catastrophic meltdown, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Saturday.

Release of radioactive gas won’t be at a level dangerous to health, said a spokesperson for the agency.

No.1 Rector (center) of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant (file photo by AP)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which operates the Fukushima nuclear power plants, said that venting gas from a containment vessel of the No. 1 reactor had been successful in reducing perilously high pressure levels. TEPCO will also repeat the procedure at its adjacent No. 2 plant, also faltering after the reactors were damaged by Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he couldn’t rule out the possibility of a radiation leak from the No. 2 plant.

Earlier in the day workers frantically struggled to cool the facility and restart its quake-damaged diesel generators to avoid a total meltdown, agency officials said.

The massive earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan cut the supply of off-site power to the plant on Friday and diesel generators intended to provide back-up electricity to the cooling system subsequently failed.

Japan’s Ground Self Defence Forces arrived Saturday to ensure the safe evacuation of local people living near the two stricken nuclear plants.

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