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NRC Chair: 'No Water in the Spent Fuel Pool' at Fukushima's Unit Four

STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission warned Wednesday afternoon that all of the water is gone from the spent fuel pool at reactor four of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, causing “extremely high” radiation levels.

“We believe that secondary containment has been destroyed and there is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures,” NRC Chair Gregory Jaczko told the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

He suspected a hydrogen explosion occurred in the unit due to the uncovering of the fuel in the pool.

Asked for clarification, Jaczko explained, “We believe at this point that unit four may have lost a significant inventory, if not lost all of its water.”

The pools are designed to cool spent fuel rods. Without water, the exposed fuel rods risk overheating, which could lead to a meltdown or explosion.

Jaczko also said that the “integrity has been compromised” at the spent fuel pool at unit three.

“What we know at unit three, and again our information is limited, what we believe is that there is a crack in the spent fuel pool for unit three as well, which could lead to a loss of water in that pool,” he said.

Earlier in the day the U.S. recommended that all American citizens in Japan evacuate a 50-mile radius surrounding the Fukushima nuclear reactors in light of the ongoing nuclear crisis.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

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