Atomic

Japan Nuclear Plant Blast Didn't Damage Reactor

Disaster averted? An explosion at a nuclear power station in Japan on Saturday destroyed a building housing the reactor, but the radiation leak is decreasing. The reactor's cooling system was damaged in the earthquake, but when water was poured on the superheated metal container of the fuel rods, it produced hydrogen which then interacted with the oxygen outside the reactor, causing an explosion. Fortunately, the explosion seems not to have damaged the reactor, but only the building surrounding it. Officials haven't given specific radiation readings for the area, but they said they were elevated before the blast—with the reactor giving off every hour as much radiation as a person normally experiences in a year—and have declined since then. The government's next step will be flooding the reactor with seawater and boric acid. Residents have been evacuated from a 12-mile radius of the power station.