A nuclear meltdown may have already occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. Ryohei Shiomi, an official with Japan's nuclear safety commission, said Saturday that officials were checking whether one had taken place.
Late Saturday of the 12th, various national and industry officials seem to be edging steadily closer to declaring a nuclear meltdown at Daiichi. The explosion that tore the control building off the plant may have occurred as engineers were attempting an emergency cooling of the damaged core. Excessive heat could have separated water into hydrogen and oxygen, creating an explosive atmosphere.
Meanwhile, a total of six reactors in Japan are said by government officials to be in danger because of a lack of cooling water.Â
According to American scientists, however, any event in Japanese reactors would not resemble Chernobyl in either the event or the consequences. The Three Mile Island limited release event is much more likely.
No matter what level of event might occur, a meltdown in a nuclear power plant is extremely dangerous. While a nuclear explosion is not possible because of the low percentage of fissionable material, the radiation dangers posed by breakthroughs of the containment vessel by nuclear material can be severe, especially locally.