Fukushima plant not to have meltdown if cooling continues: Edano

The crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant will not have a total meltdown if the current cooling of its overheating reactors continues, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday.

''Compared with before, should I say stabilizing, or it can be said at least that we have been able to do cooling to a certain degree. If we can continue this cooling, such a thing is unlikely,'' Edano said at a news conference, when asked about the possibility of a total meltdown of the plant.

His remarks came a day after the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency acknowledged that fuel rods in the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors have partially melted.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant's operator, meanwhile, said Monday there is a possibility that spent fuel rods in the No. 2 reactor have been damaged.

Edano, the top government spokesman, said it is unknown to what extent the fuel rods are damaged as nuclear experts are still investigating the details of the accident, triggered by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami.

(Distributed by Kyodo News on April 19, 2011)