TOKYO, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said Monday that fuel rods were fully exposed again in the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant as of 11 p.m. local time.
According to Kyodo News Agency, this boosts fears of an eventual partial meltdown.
Air pressure inside the reactor rose suddenly when the air flow gauge was accidentally turned off, operator TEPCO said, adding that this blocked the flow of cooling water into the reactor, leading to full exposure of the rods.
The nuclear plants shut down automatically due to Friday's massive earthquake, but the shortage of power and tsunami damage to back-up generators apparently crippled reactors' cooling systems.
Explosions created by "hydrogen bubble" blew apart the buildings housing the number one and number three reactors, but did not pierce the reactors' steel and concrete containment vessel.
Earlier Monday morning, Kyodo News Agency reported that the radiation level around the Fukushima plant has again exceeded the legal limit, but chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said Monday that radiation was at a tolerable level for humans.