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Japan’s Nuclear Threat worse than Three Mile Island

Workers at a nuclear power plant in northern Japan battered by twin catastrophes appear to have given up on saving one reactor, as their efforts seemed to shift to preventing a nuclear meltdown, one U.S. expert said.

An explosion, blamed on a buildup of hydrogen, tore the roof off the outer containment building of Unit 1 on Saturday at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the blast did not breach the thick concrete of the primary containment shell around the reactor core below.

The six-reactor plant was damaged by an 8.9-magnitude earthquake and an ensuing tsunami that struck Japan on Friday.

The quake, the most powerful temblor ever recorded in the country, triggered an emergency shutdown of the reactors. Diesel generators were supposed to keep coolant circulating through the reactors to prevent a meltdown, but the tsunami destroyed the fuel tanks.

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