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Study Shows Worse Picture of Meltdown in Japan via The New York Times

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Published: November 30, 2011

TOKYO — Molten nuclear fuel may have bored into the floor of at least one of the reactors at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the complex’s operator said Wednesday, citing a new simulation of the accident that crippled the plant in March.

The simulation suggested that the meltdown may have been more severe than had previously been thought.

Soon after an earthquake and a tsunami on March 11 knocked out cooling systems at the power plant, nuclear fuel rods in three of its six reactors overheated and slumped, the operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has said.

In the No. 1 reactor, the overheated fuel may have eroded the primary containment vessel’s thick concrete floor, and it may have gotten almost within a foot of a crucial steel barrier, the utility said the new simulation suggested. Beneath that steel layer is a concrete basement, which is the last barrier before the fuel would have begun to penetrate the earth.

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