Stratfor claims it’s a “meltdown” at Japan’s Daiichi nuclear power plant north of Tokyo:
However, the earthquake in Japan, in addition to damaging the ability of the control rods to regulate the fuel — and the reactor’s coolant system — appears to have damaged the containment facility, and the explosion almost certainly did. There have been reports of “white smoke,” perhaps burning concrete, coming from the scene of the explosion, indicating a containment breach and the almost certain escape of significant amounts of radiation.
But they’re the only ones making that claim. According to Reuters, other experts say the damage is much less severe:
“The most probable (cause of the explosion) is the coolant, particularly if it’s water, can overheat and turn to steam more rapidly than it was designed to cope with,” said nuclear fuel technology professor Timothy Abram at Manchester University.
The cause and exact location of the blast still needs to e established, said nuclear physics professor Paddy Regan at the University of Surrey. “So far it looks like it’s not the reactor core that’s affected, which would be good news.”
Stratfor tends to be more alarmist, and they don’t seem to have intel different or better than anyone else — so here’s to hoping they’re wrong.
OOPS: Charlie beat me to this one. Still, the Reuters link is worth your time.