“This is a severe incident that is occurring right now,” the spokesman said at a Thursday evening news conference.
“We have vented and used seawater as cooling, followed the accident management plan but this is a very severe operation.”
The admission comes as plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) continues attempts to stop the six-reactor Fukushima 1 complex from going into nuclear meltdown.
Maybe we have to pray
President of the Society for Radiation Protection Sebastian Pflugbeil
“We have to keepcooling the fuel so it doesn’t reach criticality,” the Tepco spokesman said, adding that radiation levels have barely fallen at the site.
Meanwhile, international energy authorities and other nations voiced concerns over the situation at the Fukushima plant north-east of Tokyo.
Japanese military helicopters have attempted to dump tons of seawater into cooling pools to prevent spent fuel overheating, as operators pumped water into the reactor core.
NEW FOOTAGE OF PEOPLE IN SENDAI FLEEING THE TSUNAMI
A police riot control water cannon attempted to replenish the cooling pools but was withdrawn, while two military airport fire trucks continued afterwards.
Sebastian Pflugbeil, president of the private German-based Society for Radiation Protection, said Japan’s efforts to pull the Fukushima 1 plant back from the brink signalled “the beginning of the catastrophic phase”.
“Maybe we have to pray,” he said.
Mr Jaczko warned water in reactor 4’s cooling pool may have run dry and a second reactor could be leaking – something experts say could accelerate the release of radiation.
“We believe that around the reactor site there are high levels of radiation,” he said.
Damage is extensive at the Fukushima reactor buildings
“It would be very difficult for emergency workers to get near the reactors.
“The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time.”
The IAEA said that the reactor 4 cooling pool has trebled in temperature while those for reactors 5 and 6 have more than doubled.
But Japan’s nuclear safety agency and Tepco denied Mr Jaczko’s statement that the water is gone from the cooling pool.
Utility spokesman Hajime Motojuku said reactor 4’s condition is “stable”.
Four people were injured in the blast at reactor 1 on March 11, and at least 11 others were hurt in a subsequent explosion at reactor 3 on March 14.
According to the IAEA, two people are still missing and at least 20 workers, police and firemen have suffered radiation contamination.
- US says plant’s spent fuel rods dry; Japan says no (ajc.com)
- Japan Cools Nuclear Plant As Global Fears Grow (news.sky.com)
- Confusion in a Crisis: Just How High are Japan’s Radiation Risks? (time.com)