Following the disatrous earthquake and tsunami in Japan attention has turned to the risk to two nuclear power plants, one which has suffered a explosion that sent a cloud of dust and debris into the air.
It is thought the container core of the reactor has not been breached by the blast at Fukushima Daiichi plant in the north east of Japan, near to the quake’s epicentre. There was a release of radioactive material but it is also understood that radioactive levels may have come down.
The quake triggered a power outage and when a backup generator also failed, the cooling system was unable to supply water to cool the reactor. The reactor core remains hot even after a shutdown.
Japanese authorities confirmed that they had begung preparations to vent the containment of Unit 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant through a controlled release of vapour, in an attempt to lower pressure inside the reactor containment. This began at 9am local Japan time with the blast following in the afternoon.
Evacuation of residents living within 10km of the Fukushima Daiichi was already underway. An area with a radius of 3km around the plant had already been evacuated.
The evacuation of residents living within 3km of the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant is also underway.