Fukushima plant probably began spewing radiation within hours of earthquake: data, National Post, May 21, 2011:
Data released for the first time this week show three of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors probably began spewing radiation within a few hours of Japan’s devastating earthquake [...] Yet for the first days of the disaster, the plant’s operators and Japan’s nuclear safety regulators studiously avoided using the word “meltdown.” They repeatedly said they believed the reactors’ fuel rods were still intact and safely contained inside their zirconium sheaths.
In reality, the rods in the core of the No. 1 reactor had fully melted by the morning of March 12 and had fallen to the bottom of the reactor’s pressure vessel. [...]
In the end, the build-up of pressure from steam and explosive hydrogen gas was so great, the reactor exploded [...]
A similar pattern of disaster befell the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors. Japanese officials now believe all three reactors may be leaking highly radioactive water outside the containment buildings as a result of damage caused to their pressure vessels by suspected meltdowns. [...]
Published: May 21st, 2011 at 1:58 pm ET