A magnitude-8.9 earthquake followed by a tsunami has made Japan face the possibility of nuclear meltdown.
The LATimes reports that all civilians were evacuated within a six-mile radius of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, about 150 miles northeast of Tokyo, after its normal backup cooling systems failed and radioactive steam had to be released to relieve pressure that could cause an explosion.
Several hours later, cooling systems at the Fukushima No. 2 plant, a few miles south, had also failed, and evacuations were ordered around that plant as well. In all, five reactors at the two plants were damaged.
"If they can't get adequate cooling to the core, it could be a Three Mile Island or worse," said nuclear physicist Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists. The loss of coolant at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station in Pennsylvania for only 30 minutes led to a 50% meltdown of the core in that 1979 accident.
Nuclear Crisis in Japan: What We Know - Union of Concerned Scientists
2 nuclear plants in peril after quake; thousands evacuated on meltdown fears - Twincities.com
4 p.m. update: 3 nuclear reactors in trouble after Japan quake - MSNBC
Japan warns of meltdown at quake-hit plant: Kyodo - Marketwatch.com
The Nuclear Delusion - Sam Carana