2 Japanese Plants Struggling To Cool Radioactive Material

Tokyo -- Reactors at two Japanese power plants can no longer cool radioactive substances, a government official said Saturday, adding that a small leak had been detected at one of the facilities.

Atomic material has seeped out of one of the Fukushima Daiichi plant's five nuclear reactors, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) north of Tokyo, said Kazuo Kodama, a spokesman for Japan's nuclear regulatory agency.

Potentially dangerous problems in cooling radioactive material appear to have cropped up there, as well as at another of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. nuclear plants, Ichiro Fujisaki, Japan's ambassador to the United States, confirmed to CNN.

The Fukushima Daini and Fukushima Daiichi power plants are separate facilities located in different towns in northeastern Japan's Fukushima prefecture. Each one has its own set of individual nuclear reactors.

Kodama said the cooling system had failed at three of the four such units of the Daini plant.

Temperatures of the coolant water in that plant's reactors soared to above 100 degrees Celsius (212 degrees Fahrenheit), Japan's Kyodo News Agency reported, an indication that the cooling system wasn't working.

Authorities subsequently ordered residents within 3 kilometers of that facility to evacuate as "a precaution," Fujisaki said. That plant was also added to the Japanese nuclear agency's emergency list, along with the Daiichi plant.

The news agency also reported Saturday that Japan's nuclear safety agency ordered the power company to open release valves in that plant, as well as the other Daiichi plant's "No. 1" reactor.

Tom Cochran, a senior scientist with the National Resource Defense Council, explained that this was likely done to release growing pressure inside both atomic plants. High temperatures had caused the water, meant to cool the radioactive material, to boil and thus produce excess steam.
CNN