JAPAN: Flirting with a Meltdown

JAPAN: Flirting with a Meltdown

The No. 2 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Mihama nuclear power plant, located 220 miles west of Tokyo, was operating at full capacity when an alarm sounded. Radiation levels in one steam generator soared to 1,250 times the normal level, triggering the emergency cooling system. Within seconds, tons of cold water began pouring in, averting a meltdown of the reactor core. But company officials acknowledged that malfunctioning safety valves had allowed a "small amount" of radiation to escape.

Containing the political fallout from Japan's worst nuclear accident may prove more difficult. The mishap at the 19-year-old facility underscored growing fears...

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