TOKYO (TR) – The No. 1 nuclear reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant may have come closer to being breached than previously thought, Associated Press reported, citing a new simulation by the utility.
In a worst-case-scenario, melted fuel rods seeped to within a foot of the containers steal bottom after eroding part of the primary containment vessel the simulation showed, AP said. A TEPCO official said the tests looked at what happened just after the accident and is not an indicator of more recent deterioration, the news agency reported.
The No. 1 reactor suffered the most damage after the March 11, earthquake and tsunami because it lost cooling capacity before the other two reactors. It took hours for the plants operators to pump in water to prevent the fuel rods from overheating, AP cited a government official as saying.
Nuclear experts say more simulations are needed to get a more accurate picture. “I don’t think the simulation today was wrong, but we should look at this from various viewpoints rather than making a conclusion from one simulation,” Kiyoharu Abe, a nuclear expert at the Japanese Nuclear Energy Safety Organization said, according to AP.
TEPCO and the Japanese government say they hope to achieve “cold shutdown” by the year’s end. It will take an additional 30 years before the plant is safely decommissioned, nuclear officials said.