June 6th, 2011
10:35 AM ET

3 Japan nuclear reactors had full meltdown, agency says

Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country's Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday.

The nuclear group's new evaluation, released Monday, goes further than previous statements in describing the extent of the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The announcement will not change plans for how to stabilize the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the agency said.

Reactors 1, 2 and 3 experienced a full meltdown, it said.

The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., admitted last month that nuclear fuel rods in reactors 2 and 3 probably melted during the first week of the nuclear crisis.

It had already said fuel rods at the heart of reactor No. 1 melted almost completely in the first 16 hours after the disaster struck. The remnants of that core are now sitting in the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel at the heart of the unit and that vessel is now believed to be leaking.

A "major part" of the fuel rods in reactor No. 2 may have melted and fallen to the bottom of the pressure vessel 101 hours after the earthquake and tsunami that crippled the plant, Tokyo Electric said May 24.

The same thing happened within the first 60 hours at reactor No. 3, the company said, in what it called its worst-case scenario analysis, saying the fuel would be sitting at the bottom of the pressure vessel in each reactor building.

But Tokyo Electric at the same time released a second possible scenario for reactors 2 and 3, one that estimated a full meltdown did not occur. In that scenario, the company estimated the fuel rods may have broken but may not have completely melted.

Temperature data showed the two reactors had cooled substantially in the more than two months since the incident, Tokyo Electric said in May.

The earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems at Fukushima Daiichi, causing the three operating reactors to overheat. That compounded a natural disaster by spewing radioactive material into the atmosphere.

Tokyo Electric avoided using the term "meltdown," and says it was keeping the remnants of the core cool. But U.S. experts interviewed by CNN after the company's announcement in May said that while it may have been containing the situation, the damage had already been done.

"On the basis of what they showed, if there's not fuel left in the core, I don't know what it is other than a complete meltdown," said Gary Was, a University of Michigan nuclear engineering professor and CNN consultant. And given the damage reported at the other units, "It's hard to imagine the scenarios can differ that much for those reactors."

A massive hydrogen explosion - a symptom of the reactor's overheating - blew the roof off the No. 1 unit the day after the earthquake, and another hydrogen blast ripped apart the No. 3 reactor building two days later. A suspected hydrogen detonation within the No. 2 reactor is believed to have damaged that unit on March 15. CNN's Yoko Wakatsuki and Kyung Lah contributed to this report.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. michaelfury


    June 6, 2011 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. EMMA

    OH MAN ! I wonder whats going on with the casey anthony trial ? I hope someone will post about it !

    June 6, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  3. CSnSC

    How come I cant get any Casey Anthony trial transcripts with longwinded opinion anymore ?

    June 6, 2011 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  4. CSnSC

    I like your style EMMA

    June 6, 2011 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  5. EMMA

    thx : )

    June 6, 2011 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |

    throw some tuna fish on those reactors and you can have some "tuna-melts"

    June 6, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |

    i wish casey anthony would sell some of her under garments like madoff is..

    June 6, 2011 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  8. Anthony's Case Posts

    Casey Anthony responded sarcastically when her mother brought up media accounts then circulating about the possibility that 2-year-old Caylee Anthony had drowned in the family pool, according to a recording of a jailhouse conversation shown to jurors on Friday.

    "Surprise, surprise," Anthony said of the rumor, which is now the primary defense theory in her capital murder trial in Orlando, Florida.

    In recordings of visits played Friday for the jury, Anthony frequently accused the media of failing to accurately report on the case.

    Prosecutors say Anthony used chloroform on her daughter and then put duct tape on her nose and mouth to suffocate her. The Orlando woman's attorneys say Caylee drowned in the family pool on June 16, 2008. They say Anthony and her father panicked and covered up the death.

    George Anthony denied the claim during his testimony last week.

    The videotaped exchange, during which Anthony became agitated with her parents as they pressed her for details of Caylee's whereabouts, was one in a series shown to jurors the past two days.

    "We need to have something to go on," Cindy Anthony pleaded during the visit.

    "Mom, I'm sorry. I don't have anything," Casey Anthony angrily replied. 'I've been here a month. Do you understand how I feel?"

    In the videos shown to jurors on Friday, Anthony repeatedly expresses frustration at being jailed and her inability to offer additional help in the search for her daughter.

    "I'm not in control over any of this 'cause I don't know what's going on," she said in one exchange. "My entire life has been taken from me. You don't understand. I don't have any answers because I don't know what's going on. I can't even say anything to you guys. I want Caylee and that's not even getting put on the air, which it should be.

    June 6, 2011 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. CSnSC

    Thats more like it

    June 6, 2011 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Is it that we don't care much about Ja-
    pan anymore?

    June 6, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ ACP:
    What about the pool boy?
    I hear that they found his DNA in the car's trunk, too. That seems to cinch it...at least, it would for me, were I a juror.
    What bothers me is Casey's hair. She needs a new coif.
    Oh, fake Ellis from Panama–did you see that pool boy?
    That father deserves to rot in hell for what he did.
    The nanny, too.
    Trash, every one of them.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  12. meee

    Go to iboinkedcayleeanthonyscorpse.com for an update

    June 6, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    That stuff carries germs.

    June 6, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Anthony's Case Posts

    The hair in question was recovered after Anthony's car was picked up from her family's home, after it had been abandoned in a parking lot, towed to an impound lot and then driven back to the family home two weeks later by Anthony's father.

    According to testimony, Anthony asked her boyfriend to pick her up from the parking lot on June 27, saying the car had run out of gas. She also told a friend that she believed an animal carcass was lodged in her car's frame.

    The car was towed to an impound lot on June 30, 2008, where a manager said he also smelled the odor of decomposition.

    An analysis of the car after the Orange County Sheriff's Office took possession of it did not show any such evidence, Bloise testified.

    Also on Saturday, Orange County crime scene investigator Mike Vincent told jurors about collecting air samples from inside Anthony's car. A scientist later found evidence of chloroform and gases associated with decomposition in those samples.

    Baez questioned whether the air inside the trunk on August 29, 2008, when it was tested, was the same as that in the car when it was recovered in July.

    He also sought to raise a question whether a trash bag found in the car when it was recovered might have been the source of the smell. Vincent also sampled air from the inside of that bag. The contents of the bag were dry when Vincent tested the air inside, he testified. The trash might have smelled different when, and if, it was wet, Vincent said under questioning from Baez.

    Before prosecutors began presenting scientific evidence in the case on Friday, jurors watched recordings of jailhouse visits between Anthony and her parents.

    In one conversation played Friday, Anthony scoffed at a media report her mother brought up speculating that Caylee had drowned in the family swimming pool.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ellis from Panama

    I like black gay men.

    June 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Report abuse |
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