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Japanese plant races to contain meltdowns after two blasts; third reactor loses cooling capacity

posted Mar 14, 2011, 3:54 AM by Eric Ackerman

A second explosion rocked Japan’s seaside Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex Monday, this time destroying an outer building at unit 3. A Japanese government official separately said that a third reactor at the six-reactor facility had lost its cooling capacity, adding to the complications facing the engineers who try to limit the damage of a partial meltdown
The explosion at unit 3 did not damage the core containment structure, and Japanese authorities asserted that there would be little increase in radiation levels around the plant. But the explosion -- a result of hydrogen build-up -- prompted Japan’s nuclear agency to warn those within 12 miles to stay indoors and keep air conditioners off. The blast injured 11 people, one seriously.

The string of earthquake- and tsunami-triggered troubles at the Fukushima Daiichi plant began with the failure of the primary and back-up cooling systems, necessary to keep reactors from overheating.