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Reactor Core Was Severely Damaged, U.S. Official Says NYT

WASHINGTON -- Energy Secretary Steven Chu said Friday that roughly 70 percent of the core of one reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan had suffered severe damage. His assessment of the damage to Reactor No. 1 was the most specific yet from an American official on how close the plant came to a full meltdown after it was hit by a severe earthquake and massive tsunami on March 11.

Japanese officials have spoken of "partial meltdown" at some of the stricken reactors. But they have been less than specific, especially on the question of how close No. 1 -- the most badly damaged reactor -- came to a full meltdown. Mr. Chu, a Nobel laureate in physics, suggested that the worst moments of the crisis appeared to be receding, saying that the best information the United States had received from the Japanese authorities indicated that water was once again covering the cores of the stricken reactors and that pools of spent fuel atop the reactor buildings were "now under control."

In addition to the severe damage at Reactor No. 1, the Energy Department said that Reactor No. 2 had suffered a 33 percent meltdown. Mr. Chu cautioned that the figures were "more of a calculation" because radiation levels inside the plant had been too high for workers to get inside, and sensors were unreliable.



"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Apr 2nd, 2011 at 01:22:00 AM EST

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