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Secretary Chu says Americans 'in no danger' from Japanese nuclear reactors

The nuclear crisis in Japan grew more troubling Sunday as efforts to control the Fukushimi Daiichi nuclear power facility continued to hit unexpected roadblocks. But Energy Secretary Steven Chu says Americans "are in no danger" from radiation.

A worker stocks tomatoes from Tochigi Prefecture at a market Sunday, March 20, in Tokyo. Japan announced the first signs that contamination from its tsunami-crippled nuclear complex have seeped into the food chain.

Gregory Bull/AP

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The nuclear crisis in Japan grew more troubling Sunday as efforts to control the Fukushimi Daiichi nuclear power facility continue to hit unexpected roadblocks nine days after an earthquake and tsunami knocked out its power and caused its six reactors to overheat and leak, threatening the region with radiation exposure.

Electrical power remains out at the plant although officials said they hoped to have parts of the facility back online Sunday. Bringing electricity back will return power to the reactor buildings, but officials say the hydrogen explosion that occurred after the earthquake damaged cooling pumps in three of the six reactors beyond repair.

On television talk shows Sunday, US Energy Secretary Steven Chu gave his assessment of the current situation.

"I think there is suspicion of damaged fuel rods in the reactors themselves," Sec. Chu said on CNN’s State of the Union. "But the issue here now is whether the containment vessels are intact. And the main containment vessels in two of them we believe are intact. We don't know the status of the third one."

Chu also sought to assure Americans concerned about radioactive material drifting across the Pacific Ocean to the United States.

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