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The Tokyo Electric Power Co., still coping with the aftermath of the 11 March earthquake and tsunami that damaged its six-reactor Fukushima nuclear power complex, announced that if the water injections cooling the power plant are halted again, the fuel rods could start melting within 38 hours.
If the fuel rods start melting, it could result in another massive release of radioactivity. TEPCO’s estimate said that the fuel’s temperature, which is now believed to have congealed into a solid mass at the bottom of the pressure vessels, in the absence of cooling water would rise about 50 degrees each hour until it hits its melting point of 2,200 degrees in about 38 hours, The Japan Times reported.
If the cooling procedures failed, then the crippled reactors would start emitting radioactive fallout, which could reach over 10 millisieverts, the threshold for evacuation.
An independent 14 September radiation survey found up to 307,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of soil near Fukushima, triple that of the benchmark above which the government requires tainted mud to be sealed by concrete. The Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants NGO announced that the readings are comparable to the high levels in special regulated zones where evacuation was required after the April 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine.
By. Joao Peixe, Deputy Editor OilPrice.com
Joao is a writer for Oilprice.com