Fire breaks out at Japanese nuclear reactor

By Brien Southward

On Tuesday, a fire partially burned the ceiling of a building containing a nuclear reactor in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, which lies roughly 60mi south of the site in Fukushima that experienced a reactor meltdown earlier this year.

The fire, which began at roughly 9:30am local time, was extinguished two hours later, but only after burning nearly 1200 square feet of a fiberglass sound-absorbing covering inside the ceiling. Fortunately, however, there was no change detected in the airborne radiation levels inside and outside the building.

In Fukushima, the reactor that experienced a meltdown nine months ago was only finally contained this week. The aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, caused by a massive earthquake and the following tsunami that devastated much of Japan’s coastline, has caused several nations to reevaluate their nuclear safety programs.

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) reports that 20% of the world’s nuclear reactors operate in earthquake-prone regions. According to a report titled Japan’s Nuclear Crisis – Wake-up Call for Nuclear Power Countries, released earlier this year by PennWell, the Fukushima incident has caused many nations to recheck and upgrade their nuclear reactor designs to cope with significant natural disasters.

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