Another reactor of Japan’s quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, 230 km north of Tokyo, lost its cooling functions Monday, which could lead to overheating and an explosion similar to two blasts at the same plant, the top government spokesman said.
“Preparation is underway to inject seawater into it as an effort to reduce pressure and temperature to save the reactor from a possible meltdown,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference.
Edano said the power station’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has notified the government that the cooling system of the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant’s No.2 reactor completely broke down at 1:25 p.m. (0425 GMT).
The Fukushima No.1 nuclear plant was damaged following Friday’s magnitude 9.0 quake.
Earlier in the day, a hydrogen explosion occurred at the No.3 reactor of the same plant, injuring at least 11 people, but the reactor’s container was not damaged.
The plant’s No.1 reactor was also hit by a similar blast on Saturday. In both cases, explosion occurred after the two reactors lost their cooling functions necessary to keep the fuel rods functioning properly.
Although the two previous explosions did not damage the reactors’ container and that only a small amount of radiation was released, the incident prompted authorities urged residents living in a 20-km radius from the Fukushima plant to evacuate.
More than 180,000 people take shelter on Monday.
The confirmed death toll from Friday’s massive earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern and eastern Japan has risen to more than 1,640 and about 1, 700 people remained missing as of Monday noon.