More Threats Emerge at Japan’s Nuclear Plant

Photo: Toru Yamanaka/Getty Images

A new assessment of three reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant has found a host of new problems. The newest review, on March 26, found additional stress on the containment structures, making them more vulnerable to rupture. The review also found potential volatility and explosions within the containment vessels, as hydrogen and oxygen continue to be released. One final piece of bad news: The report also found that that semi-molten fuel rods and salt buildup within the reactor is impeding the flow of water meant to cool the nuclear core. “I thought they were, not out of the woods, but at least at the edge of the woods,” said David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who worked on the kinds of General Electric reactors used in Japan and directs the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This paints a very different picture, and suggests that things are a lot worse. They could still have more damage in a big way if some of these things don’t work out for them.”

U.S. Sees New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant [NYT]