“Japan’s nuclear regulator said one reactor core at the quake-damaged Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant may be cracked and leaking radiation,” reports Bloomberg.
“It’s very possible that there has been some kind of leak at the No. 3 reactor,” Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman at the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said in Tokyo today. While radioactive water at the unit most likely escaped from the reactor core, it also could have originated from spent fuel pools stored atop the reactor, he said.”
The water now leaking from reactor number 3 has radiation levels 10,000 times above the level of normal reactor water. Yesterday, two Fukushima technicians received instant radioactive burns when they stepped in the puddle of water, as it burned right through their boots.
The leakage of plutonium and uranium from reactor number 3 is the nightmare scenario that many experts predicted would turn the situation at Fukushima from a crisis to a catastrophe.
The dire consequences of any major leak in reactor number 3 are exemplified by the fact that 4,000 tons of water have been dumped on the reactor, five times more than any of the other five units.
Reactor number 3 runs on MOX or Mixed Oxide fuel, a mixture of plutonium and uranium. Plutonium is the most deadly radioactive isotope known to man, and MOX is two million times more deadly than normal enriched uranium. The Half-life of Plutonium-239 in MOX is 24,000 years and just a few milligrams of P-239 escaping in a smoke plume will contaminate soil for tens of thousands of years.