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Sixth Japanese nuclear reactor loses cooling

Casualties rise

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Updated Yet another reactor in Japan's Fukushima nuclear-power complexes has lost its cooling, bringing the total number of problematic reactors in northeastern Japan after Friday afternoon's megaquake to six.

This information was provided in a one-line advisory by Japan's Kyodo News, which is closely montoring developments at Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) and Fuskushima No. 2 (Daini): "6th reactor at Fukushima nuke plant loses cooling functions."

In addition, Kyodo News reports that "15 people near Fukushima nuke plants [have been] exposed to radioactivity."

Kyodo News did not indicate which of the two Fukushima plants suffered the sixth failure. Daiichi has six reactors; Daini, seven miles away, has four. From reports by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), however, it appears as if the most recently troubled reactor may be at the Daini plant.

At 2am on Sunday morning in Japan (Saturday at 5pm in London and noon in New York) Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) released information about the status of both the Daiichi and Daini plants.

At the Daiichi plant, TEPCO says – and as we reported earlier – the building housing reactor No. 1 exploded on Saturday afternoon, and the reactor itself, according to TEPCO, is "under inspection". In addition, TEPCO says, "We have been injecting sea water and boric acid which absorbs neutron into the reactor core" – a process that will introduce impurities sufficient to irreparably damage the reactor.

In regard to Daiichi's reactors Nos. 2 and 3, TEPCO says: "After fully securing safety, we are preparing to implement a measure to reduce the pressure of the reactor containment vessels under the instruction of the national government." Reactor No. 4, which TEPCO claims was "shut down due to regular inspection", and Nos. 5, and 6 which TEPCO says were in an "outage due to regular inspection", were experiencing no problems as of the time of TEPCO's Sunday morning report.

At Daini, TEPCO is preparing to initiate a "partial discharge of air containing radioactive materials" to "fully secure safety" at all four reactors.

Casualty reports at Daiichi include two workers injured during the earthquake, radiation exposure to one worker, and four workers "injured and transported to the hospital" as a result of Saturday's explosion.

At Daini, according to TEPCO, as of Saturday afternoon "A seriously injured worker is still trapped in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack and his breathing and pulse cannot be confirmed. Currently, the rescue efforts are under way."

No later report has included information on the status of that rescue effort. ®

Update

In a report on Sunday morning at 8am Japan time (Saturday at 11pm in London and 6pm in New York), TEPCO reported about the injured worker at the Daini plant: "The operator trapped in the crane operating console of the exhaust stack was transferred to the ground at 5:13PM and confirmed the death at 5:17PM."

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