Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/12/second_nuke_plant_emergency/

Emergency declared at second quake-wracked Japanese nuke plant

'Fukushima No. 1, meet Fukushima No. 2'

By Rik Myslewski

Posted in Science, 12th March 2011 00:52 GMT

Updated The Japanese government has declared an emergency at a second Japanese nuclear plant: Fukushima No. 2, seven miles away from Fukushima No. 1, which lost cooling after Friday's devastating megaquake in northeastern Japan.

Japan's Kyodo News reports that on Saturday morning, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) released news that the cooling systems had failed in three reactors in the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant.

TEPCO, said Kyodo News, "notified the industry ministry that the failsafe system at the No. 2 plant stopped functioning as the temperature of coolant water has topped 100 C." A TEPCO spokesperson told Fox News that pressure was stable in the reactors, but rising in their containment vessels.

This escalation of Japan's nuclear power-plant emergency comes just as the country's nuclear safety agency is "set to issue an unprecedented order" to open relief valves at Fukushima No. 1, according to Kyodo News.

Although Fukushima No. 1's problems were originally announced to have involved only the plant's reactor No. 2, Japan's Juji Press says that the radiation-spewing release – which TEPCO said would be "small" – will involve not only reactor No. 2, but reactors Nos. 1 and 3, as well.

According to Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, however, safety can be assured: winds are blowing out to sea. ®

Update

Late Saturday, Japan time, Kyodo News reported that all was not well with the venting operation at Fukushima No. 1: "The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said TEPCO officials encountered difficulties in opening a valve to release the container's pressure due to high radioactive level, while the evacuation of nearby residents has not been completed yet."

That evacuation, according to many reports, has been extended to 10 kilometers from the plant – which, according to Yukio Edano, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary, would involve over 43,000 residents. Residents within a three-kilometer radius of Fukushima No. 2 have also been ordered to evacuate.