Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan, put the most troubling new development at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant this way, “very grave and serious.”
The core around reactor 3 now appears to have been breached, which means more radiation is leaking and raises the distinct possibility that what is coming out is a mixture of uranium and plutonium, known as mox.
Prime Minister Kan elaborated on the feelings of so many, “we must remain vigilant. “We are not in a position where we can be optimistic. We must treat every development with the utmost care.”
Vigilance is how authorities first came to realize that they are now likely dealing with a breach. Deputy Director General of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Hidehiko Nishiyma said three workers injured on Thursday have given engineers a clear clue.
The workers were about to connect a cable in a building next to reactor 3 when they stepped into the water flowing around it. That water, according to Nishiyma is significantly more radioactive than it should be. A hydrogen explosion days ago damaged the reactor, and it is apparently the only one that takes mox fuel.
Workers had restored electricity to much of the plant, but getting cooling systems up and running has been hampered, which means the venting of gas from those reactors is only adding to plume being carried away by wind and rain.
In recent days, authorities have advised anyone living up to 19 miles away from the plant to leave the area. Experts in the U.S. have recommended that people stay 50 miles away.
This latest development comes two weeks to the day an earthquake and tsunami ripped Japan apart. Authorities say the death toll stands at 10,000 and continues to rise. Nearly 18,000 more are still considered missing, hundreds of thousands remain homeless, and in some instances food and water have been tough to come by.
A sliver of good news, the level of radioactive iodine found in tap water has been dropping. Still health officials are advising not to give infants tap water.
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