RSN June 14 Fundraising
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

For the latest updates of the situation in Japan, watch the continuing coverage here.

A playground sits empty at the Iitate primary school after all of the children were forced to evacuate from the town due to high radiation levels. (photo: Reuters)
A playground sits empty at the Iitate primary school after all of the children were forced to evacuate from the town due to high radiation levels. (photo: Reuters)

Radiation-Tainted Food in Japan Escalates

By Naoko Fujimura and Chris Cooper, Bloomberg

14 August 11

Mushrooms joined the threats to Japan's food chain from radiation spewed by Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, as the country expands efforts to limit the effects of the disaster. Japan is under pressure to enhance food inspections as it has no centralized system for detecting radiation contamination. About two - thirds of Japan’s prefectures now plan to check rice crops, the Mainichi newspaper said today, citing a survey. Half of Japan's rice is grown within range of emissions from the crippled nuclear plant, and farmers are awaiting the results of tests before harvesting begins this month.

"By strengthening inspection on rice, we want to make sure only safe produce are in the market," Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano said at a press conference on Aug. 12.

Nameko mushrooms grown in the open air in Soma, a city about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, were found to contain nine times the legal limit of cesium, the local government said Aug. 12. Japan's farm ministry asked growers in Fukushima prefecture to refrain from harvesting mushrooms off raw wood left outside, public broadcaster NHK said yesterday. READ MORE

 

87,000 Still in Limbo Five Months After Quake

By Kyodo News

12 Aug 11

MORIOKA — Memorial services took place Thursday to mark the passing of five months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, with survivors mourning the loss of their loved ones while gradually beginning to find comfort from signs of reconstruction. More than 15,600 people have been confirmed dead and police continue to search for over 4,700 others who are still missing. Some 87,000 evacuees remain scattered throughout the country. READ MORE

 

Citizen Group Tracks Down Japan's Radiation

By Dahr Jamail, Al Jazeera

11 Aug 11

The aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis has been marked by an outcry in Japan over radiation leaks, contaminated food and a government unable to put the public's fears to rest.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of the meltdown that resulted from March's earthquake–triggered disaster, activists and citizens have said, is the uncertainty that has ensued.

In the months since the catastrophe, the Japanese government, its nuclear watchdogs and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), have provided differing, confusing, and at times contradictory, information on critical health issues.

Fed up with indefinite data, a group of 50 volunteers decided to take matters, and Geiger counters, into their own hands.

In April, an independent network of like-minded individuals in the Japan and United States banded together to form Safecast and began an ongoing crusade to record and publish accurate radiation levels around Japan.

The group handed out mobile radiation detectors and uploaded the readings to the internet to map out exposure levels.

Sean Bonner, director of Safecast, told Al Jazeera that volunteers have so far logged more than 500,000 radiation data points across Japan.

He said the group is the only organisation he knows that is tracking radiation on a local level. The findings, Bonner added, have been shocking.

"People keep asking how we are doing it, when the government isn't," he said. READ MORE

 

Nuclear Safety: A Dangerous Veil of Secrecy

By Dorothy Parvaz, Al Jazeera

11 Aug 11

There are battles being fought on two fronts in the five months since a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan.

On one front, there is the fight to repair the plant, operated by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and to contain the extent of contamination caused by the damage. On the other is the public’s fight to extract information from the Japanese government, TEPCO and nuclear experts worldwide.

The latter battle has yielded serious official humiliation, resulting high-profile resignations, scandals, and promises of reform in Japan’s energy industry whereas the latter has so far resulted in a storm of anger and mistrust. READ MORE

 

Amy Goodman | From Kilotons to Millisieverts: Japan’s Nuclear Legacy

By Amy Goodman, Truthdig

10 Aug 11

In recent weeks, radiation levels have spiked at the Fukushima nuclear power reactors in Japan, with recorded levels of 10,000 millisieverts per hour (mSv/hr) at one spot. This is the number reported by the reactor’s discredited owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., although that number is simply as high as the Geiger counters go. In other words, the radiation levels are literally off the charts. Exposure to 10,000 millisieverts for even a brief time would be fatal, with death occurring within weeks. (For comparison, the total radiation from a dental X-ray is 0.005 mSv, and from a brain CT scan is less than 5 mSv.) The New York Times has reported that government officials in Japan suppressed official projections of where the nuclear fallout would most likely move with wind and weather after the disaster in order to avoid costly relocation of potentially hundreds of thousands of residents. READ MORE

 

Greenpeace: High Radiation in Fukushima Fish

By Jun Hongo

10 Aug 11

Radiology and marine experts from Greenpeace said Tuesday that four out of eight samples of various fish obtained last month at five ports in Fukushima Prefecture exceeded the government-set limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram of radiation.

Although fishery cooperatives in Fukushima have halted coastal commercial operations since March 11 and catches from the area are not being sold to retailers, the environmental group urged the government to conduct detailed checks on fish caught off the Fukushima coast to prevent their accidental sale. A sample of "kuromebaru" rockfish hit 1,053 becquerels per kg, the group said. READ MORE

 

Report Suggests Second Meltdown at Reactor at Fukushima Plant

By Tomooki Yasuda

10 Aug 11

A second meltdown likely occurred in the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, a scenario that could hinder the current strategy to end the crisis, a scientist said. In that meltdown, 10 days after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, the fuel may have leaked to the surrounding containment vessel, according to a report by Fumiya Tanabe, a former senior researcher at what was then the government-affiliated Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute.

His report will be announced at next month's meeting of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan. READ MORE

 

Fukushima Clouds Hiroshima Anniversary

By Suvendrini Kakuchi, Inter Press Service

06 Aug 11

TOKYO, Aug 4, 2011 (IPS) - Matashichi Oishi, 78, a radiation victim from Bikini Atoll, the site of a U.S. hydrogen bomb test in 1954, will make his annual lone visit this week to commemorate the Aug. 6 anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima 66 years ago.

This year, says the former sailor, battling lung cancer from exposure to high levels of radiation at Bikini Atoll, his message at Hiroshima will go beyond a routine call to end nuclear weapons.

"Against the backdrop of the disastrous Fukushima nuclear plant accident, I will speak of the absolute need for Japan to not only work to ban nuclear weapons but also to completely eradicate dependence on nuclear energy," he told IPS. READ MORE

 

Japan’s Prime Minister Fires Three Nuclear Energy Officials

By Martin Fackler, The New York Times

04 Aug 11

TOKYO — Prime Minister Naoto Kan removed three top officials in charge of Japanese nuclear energy policy on Thursday, taking aim at cozy ties between regulators and the power industry that were exposed after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

The three officials include Nobuaki Terasaka, the leader of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the nation’s main nuclear regulatory body. The agency has been criticized for allowing inadequate safety measures at the Fukushima plant, including insufficient defenses against the towering tsunami unleashed by a deadly earthquake on March 11. The agency, which is part of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has also been accused of trying to manipulate public opinion by planting people at recent town hall-style meetings to speak in support of nuclear power.

The other two officials are Kazuo Matsunaga, the top bureaucrat at the ministry, and Tetsuhiro Hosono, head of the ministry’s energy resources bureau, which promotes the power industry. READ MORE

 

Fatal Radiation Level Found at Japanese Plant

By Martin Fackler, The New York Times

03 Aug 11

TOKYO — The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said Monday that it measured the highest radiation levels within the plant since it was crippled by a devastating earthquake. However, it said the discovery would not slow continuing efforts to bring the plant’s damaged reactors under control.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said that workers on Monday afternoon had found an area near Reactors No. 1 and 2, where radiation levels exceeded their measuring device’s maximum reading of 10 sieverts per hour — a fatal dose for humans.

The company said the reading was taken near a ventilation tower, suggesting that the contamination happened in the days immediately after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, when workers desperately tried to release flammable hydrogen gas that was then building up inside the reactor buildings. The release, known as venting, failed to prevent crippling explosions that destroyed the reactor buildings. READ MORE

 

Utility Unable to Unload Damaged Hamaoka Fuel Rod For 17 Years

By Kyodo News

28 July 11

SHIZUOKA — Chubu Electric Power Co. revealed Thursday it has been unable to remove a spent fuel rod that was damaged in an accident 17 years ago from its Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Spent fuel is normally sent to the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, or elsewhere, but the damaged rod remains in a special container inside the fuel pool of the plant's decommissioned No. 1 reactor, it said.

The utility said it had asked domestic research organizations and foreign nuclear fuel firms to take it but to no avail. It is still pondering how to get rid of the rod in the absence of clear government rules on how to dispose of damaged fuel that requires more delicate handling. READ MORE

 

Fukushima Residents to Officials: Test This Urine!

By Abby Zimet, Common Dreams

27 July 11

Incredible video of a meeting in Fukushima last week where desperate residents ask if they have the right to live in a safe, non-radioactive place and stone-faced officials sit in silence - and then literally run away as people plead with them to test their children's urine. Shrieks one woman, "They are awful!" READ MORE

 

Plugging Reactors No Longer Stated Goal For Tepco

By Kazuaki Nagata, Japan Times

21 July 11

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. are boasting success in achieving the first stage in the road map to stabilize the reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, but experts said big challenges remain as the utility moves to the second phase, the goal of which is to achieve a cold shutdown in three to six months.

In the newly updated plan, released Tuesday, the two sides defined cold shutdown as bringing the temperature at the bottom of the pressure vessels in the stricken reactors to below 100 degrees. They also plan to reduce the amount of radioactive materials being released from the containment vessels and keep the radiation level around the plant to less than 1 millisievert per year by mid-January, which may enable some evacuees to return home.

When the second phase is over, "it will depend on radiation levels in the various areas, but I think we can achieve some specific results even for the evacuation area (within 20 km of the plant)," said Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of the crisis, stressing that the government will make every effort to decontaminate areas around the plant.

To substantially reduce the amount of radioactive materials released from the plant, Tepco needs to get to the bottom of the problem: plugging holes or cracks in the reactors' containment vessels that are allowing contaminated water to flood on-site facilities, including the reactor buildings and turbine buildings, experts said. READ MORE

 

Japan PM Urges Nuclear-Free Future

By Harumi Ozawa, AFP News

13 July 11

Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Wednesday that the country must gradually reduce its reliance on atomic power with the eventual goal of becoming nuclear-free.

Four months after the March 11 quake and tsunami triggered the Fukushima nuclear accident, the world's worst since Chernobyl 25 years ago, Kan has argued that Japan must boost solar, wind and other renewables.

Speaking in a televised press conference, the embattled premier said: "By reducing reliance on nuclear power gradually, we will aim to become a society which can exist without nuclear power." READ MORE

 

Radioactive Beef Already Sold, Eaten

By Radioactive Beef Already Sold, Eaten

13 July 11

The meat of six cows shipped from a Fukushima Prefecture farm at the heart of growing concerns over radioactive beef has been distributed to at least nine prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka, and some was believed consumed, local government officials said Tuesday.

The cows ate the same straw at a farm in Minamisoma near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant as another 11 cows that were shipped to a Tokyo meat-packing plant and whose meat was found to contain excessive levels of the isotope.

Cows at the farm are believed to have been exposed to radiation internally because they were fed straw that contained radioactive cesium at levels far above the allowable limit, probably because it had been kept outdoors. READ MORE

 

Radiation Found in Japanese Cattle

By Agence France-Presse

10 July 11

More than six times the legal limit of radioactive caesium has been found in beef from Fukushima prefecture, home to Japan's crippled nuclear plant, an official statement said Saturday.

The meat came from one of 11 cows shipped this month to Tokyo from a farmer in Minamisoma city, according to the statement by the Tokyo metropolitan government.

The 11 cows all showed high levels of radioactive caesium, ranging from 1,530 to 3,200 becquerel per kilogram, compared with the legal limit of 500 becquerel, the Tokyo statement said. READ MORE

 

Japan's Tsunami: The First 24 Hours

By Eric Talmadge and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

03 July 11

When Unit 2 began to shake, Hiroyuki Kohno's first hunch was that something was wrong with the turbines. He paused for a moment, then went back to logging the day's radioactivity readings. Tweet ShareThis He expected it to pass. Until the shakes became jolts.

As sirens wailed, he ran to an open space, away from the walls, and raced down a long corridor with two colleagues. Parts of the ceiling fell around them. Outside, he found more pandemonium. "People were shouting about a tsunami," he said. "At that point, I really thought I might die."

Breathless, Kohno climbed a small hill and turned to look back. Black plumes rose from the reactor units. The emergency generators, burning diesel, had kicked in. READ MORE

 

Fukushima Radiation Fears: Children Near Nuclear Plant to Be Given Monitors

By Justin McCurry, Guardian UK

29 June 11

Tens of thousands of children living near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are to be given personal radiation monitors, as concern grows over the long-term health effects of exposure to radiation.

Dosimeters will be given to 34,000 children aged between four and 15 living in Fukushima city, 45 miles from the plant, after abnormally high radiation readings were recorded in the area.

The risks posed by radiation from the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl have already driven 80,000 people from homes within 12 miles of the plant. Many of the child evacuees from communities that now lie empty attend schools in Fukushima, a city of 300,000 people.

Local authorities have provided monitors to schools outside the exclusion zone, but this is the first time they have been supplied to individual pupils. Data from the dosimeters will be analysed to assess the risks posed by cumulative radiation exposure. READ MORE

 

Costs Rise in 'Worst Industrial Disaster'

By Victor Kotsev, Asia Times

29 June 11

The day after the disastrous level-nine earthquake that triggered the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear crisis, March 12, an Israeli expert on air quality and poisoning, Professor Menachem Luria, told Israeli Channel 2: "From what we can gather, this disaster is even more dangerous than Chernobyl."

At the time, his was a minority opinion in the scientific community; very few believed that a nuclear accident as bad as the 1986 meltdown in Ukraine would occur again. "I think that's basically impossible," said James Stubbins, an expert at the University of Illinois, and many others agreed. READ MORE

 

‘Safety Myth' Left Japan Ripe for Nuclear Crisis

By Normitsu Onishi, The New York Times

25 June 11

Near a nuclear power plant facing the Sea of Japan, a series of exhibitions in a large public relations building here extols the virtues of the energy source with some help from "Alice in Wonderland." "It's terrible, just terrible," the White Rabbit says in the first exhibit. "We're running out of energy, Alice."

A Dodo robot figure, swiveling to address Alice and the visitors to the building, declares that there is an "ace" form of energy called nuclear power. It is clean, safe and renewable if you reprocess uranium and plutonium, the Dodo says. "Wow, you can even do that!" Alice says of nuclear power. "You could say that it's optimal for resource - poor Japan!"

Over several decades, Japan's nuclear establishment has devoted vast resources to persuade the Japanese public of the safety and necessity of nuclear power. Plant operators built lavish, fantasy - filled public relations buildings that became tourist attractions. Bureaucrats spun elaborate advertising campaigns through a multitude of organizations established solely to advertise the safety of nuclear plants. Politicians pushed through the adoption of government - mandated school textbooks with friendly views of nuclear power. READ MORE

 

TEPCO Halts Filtering of Tainted Water at Japanese Plant

By Ken Belson, The New York Times

18 June 11

The Tokyo Electric Power Company said Saturday that the filtration system it had struggled to put into operation at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had broken down after just five hours, a disappointing setback in its efforts to cool the reactors.

The company said that the sprawling system, which is designed to siphon oil, radioactive materials and salt from the water used to cool the reactors, was shut down because it had filled up with radioactive cesium.

The filtration system was built ad hoc and rushed into service because Tokyo Electric, or TEPCO, is quickly running out of space to store the tens of thousands of tons of water that have been contaminated after being poured into the reactors and spent - fuel pools. READ MORE

 

Japan Strains to Fix a Reactor Damaged Before Quake

By Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

16 June 11

TSURUGA, Japan — Three hundred miles southwest of Fukushima, at a nuclear reactor perched on the slopes of this rustic peninsula, engineers are engaged in another precarious struggle.

The Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor — a long-troubled national project — has been in a precarious state of shutdown since a 3.3-ton device crashed into the reactor’s inner vessel, cutting off access to the plutonium and uranium fuel rods at its core. Engineers have tried repeatedly since the accident last August to recover the device, which appears to have gotten stuck. They will make another attempt as early as next week.

But critics warn that the recovery process is fraught with dangers because the plant uses large quantities of liquid sodium, a highly flammable substance, to cool the nuclear fuel. READ MORE

 

Radiation Spike Stops Cleanup at Fukushima

By Hideyuki Sano, Reuters

16 June 11

TOKYO (Reuters) – A rise in radiation halted the clean-up of radioactive water at Japan's Fukushimi nuclear power station on Saturday hours after it got under way, a fresh setback to efforts to restore control over the quake-stricken plant. The power plant has been leaking radiation into the atmosphere ever since the March 11 quake and tsunami and both China and South Korea have expressed concern over the possibility of further leaks into the sea.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said it expected to resume the clean-up within a week.

The plan hit a new hurdle as Japan marked 100 days since the earthquake and tsunami left nearly 24,000 dead or missing and knocked out cooling systems at the plant. Buddhist memorial services were held throughout the country on the day when the bereaved traditionally seek closure from grief.

A statement issued by the utility, known as Tepco, said the suspension was prompted by a faster than expected rise in radiation in a part of the system intended to absorb caesium. READ MORE

 

Are We On the Brink of Burying Nuke Power Forever?

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

16 June 11

This may be the moment history has turned definitively against atomic energy.

To be sure: we are still required to fight hard to bury reactor loan guarantees in the United States. There are parallel struggles in China, Indian, England, France and South Korea.

The great fear is that until every single reactor on this planet is shut, none of us is really safe from another radioactive horror show. READ MORE

 

Radiation "Hotspots" Hinder Japan Response to Nuclear Crisis

By Kevin Krolicki and Kiyoshi Takenaka, Reuters

16 June 11

Hisao Nakamura still can't accept that his crisply cut field of deep green tea bushes south of Tokyo has been turned into a radioactive hazard by a crisis far beyond the horizon.

"I was more than shocked," said Nakamura, 74, who, like other tea farmers in Kanagawa has been forced to throw away an early harvest because of radiation being released by the Fukushima Daiichi plant 300 kilometers (180 miles) away. "Throwing way what you've grown with great care is like killing your own children."

More than three months after the Fukushima nuclear plant was hit by a quake and tsunami that triggered the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, Japanese officials are still struggling to understand where and how radiation released in the accident created far-flung "hotspots" of contamination. The uncertainty itself is proving a strain. READ MORE

 

Fukushima: It's Much Worse Than You Think

By Dahr Jamail, Al Jazeera

16 June 11

"Fukushima is the biggest industrial catastrophe in the history of mankind," Arnold Gundersen, a former nuclear industry senior vice president, told Al Jazeera.

Japan's 9.0 earthquake on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that crippled the cooling systems at the Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) nuclear plant in Fukushima, Japan. It also lead to hydrogen explosions and reactor meltdowns that forced evacuations of those living within a 20km radius of the plant.

Gundersen, a licensed reactor operator with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, managing and coordinating projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the US, says the Fukushima nuclear plant likely has more exposed reactor cores than commonly believed. READ MORE

 

Live Coverage: Japan's NHK WORLD TV

Watch live coverage broadcast in English. WATCH HERE

 

BBC News In-Depth Coverage

By BBC News Staff

News reports, editorials, photographs and videos. READ MORE

 

Japan's Natural and Nuclear Disaster -
Full Coverage

By Guardian UK Staff

The latest news, videos and opinion. READ MORE

 

Nuke Free.org

READ MORE

 

Beyond Nuclear - Latest News


READ MORE

 

Nuclear Information and Resource Center


READ MORE

 

Nuclear Disaster Japan, Greenpeace USA


READ MORE

 

Green Action Japan - English


READ MORE

 

Precipitation RadNet Laboratory Analysis


READ MORE

 

Radiation Network - Radiation Map


READ MORE

 

Anti-Nuclear Protests in Disaster-Hit Japan

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

10 June 11

Protesters in Japan are demonstrating against the use of nuclear power as the country marks three-months since a powerful earthquake and tsunami killed tens of thousands of people and triggered one of the world's worst nuclear disasters. Several hundred people gathered in the Japanese capital, Tokyo, on Saturday, shouting anti-nuclear slogans and carrying banners reading "immediately stop all use of nuclear power and shut down the plants".

The magnitude - 9 earthquake that hit off Japan's northeast coast on March 11 caused a massive tsunami that killed about 23,000 people. The disasters knocked out power and cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, about 225km northeast of Tokyo, setting off explosions, fires and large radiation leaks at the facility.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas, reporting from Sendai in the north, said protesters are frustrated by the lack of information about the government's vision for nuclear power going forward. READ MORE

 

As Japan Nuclear Crisis Worsens, Citizen-Led Radiation Monitors Pressure Gov't to Increase Evacuations

By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!

10 June 11

Almost three months after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear disaster in Japan, new radiation "hot spots" may require the evacuation of more areas further from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency recently admitted for the first time that full nuclear meltdowns occurred at three of the plant's reactors, and more than doubled its estimate for the amount of radiation that leaked from the plant in the first week of the disaster in March. "What they failed to mention is that they discharged an equally large amount into the ocean," says our guest Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the US Secretary of Energy. "As [the radiation] goes up the food chain, it accumulates. By the time it reaches people who consume this food, the levels are higher than they originally were when they entered the environment." Alvarez also discusses his new report on the vulnerabilities and hazards of stored spent fuel at US reactors in the United States. Then we go to Tokyo to speak with Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the group Green Action. She says citizens leading their own monitoring efforts are calling for additional evacuations, especially for young children and pregnant women. READ MORE

 

Over 90,000 at Shelters 3 Months After Quake

By Kyodo News

10 June 11

Three months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster and with a nuclear power plant crisis still unfolding, over 90,000 evacuees are still living in shelters as construction of temporary housing for them has made slow progress and many have stopped short of moving into the units citing insufficient life support services.

Even though lifeline services are mostly back to normal, excluding the devastated coastal areas in northeastern Japan, only half of the needed 52,200 temporary homes have been completed and 60 percent of them have been vacant in the worst-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.

As of Friday, a total of about 23,500 are dead or remain missing in 12 prefectures following the disaster, according to the National Police Agency. READ MORE

 

Shizuoka Tells Tea Retailer to Conceal Radiation Info

By The Japan Times

10 June 11

Shizuoka Prefecture told a Tokyo-based mail order company not to say anything on its website about excessive radioactive material being found in tea from the prefecture, the retailer said Friday.

After Radishbo-ya Co. made an inquiry to the Shizuoka Prefectural Government about the matter Monday, a prefectural official told the company not to disclose the finding due to fears the message would cause unwarranted harm to Shizuoka tea growers, adding that the prefecture would confirm the finding on its own, according to the retailer.

Radishbo-ya, for its part, sent purchasers of the tea letters informing them about the radiation and offered to recall the products.

Shizuoka is a famous tea production area. READ MORE

 

Where to Expect the Next Nuclear Disaster

By Nick Carey, Margarita Antidze and John Ruwitch, Reuters

10 June 11

Imagine a country where corruption is rampant, infrastructure is very poor, or the quality of security is in question. Now what if that country built a nuclear power plant? It may sound alarming but that is what could happen in many developing countries which are either building nuclear power plants or considering doing so - a prospect that raises serious questions after Japan's experience handling a nuclear crisis.

A trove of US diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks and provided to Reuters by a third party provide colorful and sometimes scary commentary on the conditions in developing nations with nuclear power aspirations.

READ MORE

 

Japan Doubles Fukushima Radiation Leak Estimate

By Justin McCurry, Guardian UK

08 June 11

The amount of radiation released by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the days after the 11 March tsunami could have been more than double that originally estimated by its operator, Japan's nuclear safety agency has said.

The revelation has raised fears that the situation at the plant, where fuel in three reactors suffered meltdown, was more serious than government officials have acknowledged.

In another development that is expected to add to criticism of Japan's handling of the crisis, the agency said molten nuclear fuel dropped to the bottom of the pressure vessel in the No 1 reactor within five hours of the accident, 10 hours earlier than previously thought.

By the end of last week, radiation levels inside the reactor had risen to 4,000 millisieverts per hour, the highest atmospheric reading inside the plant since the disaster. READ MORE

 

Stricken Fukushima Nuke Plant Leaking Oil

By Kazuaki Nagata, Japan Times

01 June 11

Oil was leaking into the sea from heavy oil tanks for reactors 5 and 6 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday, adding the spill may have been ongoing since the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Tepco said workers at the site saw an oil slick floating on the sea at 8 a.m. Tuesday near the intakes of units 5 and 6.

The oil slick is believed to be 200 to 300 meters long. READ MORE

 

IAEA: Japan Underestimated Tsunami Threat

By Eric Talmadge, Associated Press

01 June 11

UN inspectors faulted Japan on Wednesday for underestimating the threat of a devastating tsunami on its crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant but praised its overall response to the crisis as exemplary.

The preliminary report by a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency also said the tsunami hazard was underestimated at several other nuclear facilities in Japan, and called for experts worldwide to learn from the disaster to avert future accidents.

"Japan's response to the nuclear accident has been exemplary, particularly (as) illustrated by the dedicated, determined and expert staff working under exceptional conditions," the report said. It also praised the evacuation of those living near the plant as "impressive and well-organized." READ MORE

 

German Nuclear Shutdown Sets Global Example

By Deborah Cole, Agence France-Presse

30 May 11

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany could serve as a global trailblazer with its decision Monday to phase out nuclear power by 2022 but France, Europe's biggest producer, said it will not follow suit.

Merkel said the "fundamental" rethink of energy policy in the world's number four economy, prompted by the disaster in March at Japan's Fukushima plant, opened new opportunities for business and climate protection.

"We believe we as a country can be a trailblazer for a new age of renewable energy sources," she told reporters. READ MORE

 

2 Fukushima Workers May Be Over Radiation Limit

By Associated Press

30 May 11

Two workers at Japan’s crippled nuclear plant might have exceeded a radiation exposure limit amid concerns about the risks the workers face struggling to contain the crisis.

The two control room operators are being tested further and don’t have immediate health problems, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday. If confirmed, they would be the first men to reach the government-set limit.

TEPCO has been criticized for not fully disclosing the extent of radiation exposures by the plant workers or their working conditions, raising suspicion they may not be closely monitored or informed of potential risks. READ MORE

 

Nuclear Plant Construction Divides Japan

By Mure Dickie, Financial Times

30 May 11

Talk to Yoshifumi Matsuyama about Japan's nuclear crisis and the butcher in the northern town of Oma struggles to control his irritation. His discontent does not, however, stem from the failure of cooling systems at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant, radiation leaks or mass evacuations.

What bothers Mr. Matsuyama, who is also chairman of the Oma chamber of commerce, is any suggestion that the Fukushima crisis might scupper construction of a new nuclear plant a few kilometres from his home.

"We support this plant, that's all there is to it," he says. "It absolutely has to be built." READ MORE

 

Is Fukushima Now Ten Chernobyls Into the Sea?

By Harvey Wasserman, Common Dreams

26 May 11

New readings show levels of radioisotopes found up to 30 kilometers offshore from the on-going crisis at Fukushima are ten times higher than those measured in the Baltic and Black Seas during Chernobyl.

"When it comes to the oceans, says Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceonographer at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, "the impact of Fukushima exceeds Chernobyl."

The news comes amidst a tsunami of devastating revelations about the Fukushima disaster and the crumbling future of atomic power, along with a critical Senate funding vote today:

Fukushima's owner, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, has confirmed that fuel at Unit One melted BEFORE the arrival of the March 11 tsunami. READ MORE

 

Greenpeace Slams Japan Response to Nuclear Crisis, Cites Sea Radiation

By Reuters

26 May 11

TOKYO, May 26 (Reuters) - Environmental group Greenpeace on Thursday slammed Japan's "continued inadequate response" to the nuclear disaster at a power plant after new data showed seaweed radiation levels 50 times higher than official limits.

The new intormation raised "serious concerns" about long-term risks from contaminated seawater, it said, more than two months after the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami.READ MORE

 

New Leak Found at Stricken Nuclear Plant

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Yoko Nishikawa, Reuters

26 May 11

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Thursday detailed a new leak of radioactive water as Greenpeace slammed the country's "inadequate response" to a growing threat to sea water and health.

And in an embarrassing reversal, Tokyo Electric Power officials changed a key element of an account of the early response to the crisis it had given on Saturday as part of a government investigation into the accident. Tokyo Electric said up to 57 tonnes of highly contaminated water had leaked from a storage facility into a trench. It vowed to step up monitoring of groundwater.

The disclosure raises the stakes in a race to complete by next month a system to decontaminate a massive pool of radioactive water at the site that critics see as a growing risk to both the Pacific and groundwater. READ MORE

 

New Leak Found at Stricken Nuclear Plant

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Yoko Nishikawa, Reuters

26 May 11

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Thursday detailed a new leak of radioactive water as Greenpeace slammed the country's "inadequate response" to a growing threat to sea water and health.

And in an embarrassing reversal, Tokyo Electric Power officials changed a key element of an account of the early response to the crisis it had given on Saturday as part of a government investigation into the accident. Tokyo Electric said up to 57 tonnes of highly contaminated water had leaked from a storage facility into a trench. It vowed to step up monitoring of groundwater.

The disclosure raises the stakes in a race to complete by next month a system to decontaminate a massive pool of radioactive water at the site that critics see as a growing risk to both the Pacific and groundwater. READ MORE

 

Children of Fukushima Need Our Protection

By Tilman Ruff, Kyodo News

25 May 11

I was dismayed to learn that the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology earlier this week increased the allowable dose of ionizing radiation for children in Fukushima Prefecture.

The dose they set, 3.8 microsieverts per hour, equates to more than 33 millisieverts (mSv) over a year. This is to apply to children in kindergartens, nursery, primary and junior high schools. Let me try to put this in perspective....

The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends that all radiation exposure be kept as low as achievable, and for the public, on top of background radiation and any medical procedures, should not exceed 1 mSv per year. READ MORE

 

Japan PM to Unveil Push for Safer Renewable Energy

By Risa Maeda, Reuters

25 May 11

Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan is expected to announce a drive toward renewable energy, including slashing the cost of solar power, when he meets fellow leaders of the G8 rich nations group later this week, media reports say.

One target will be to increase the use of solar power 15-fold by 2030, according to the Asahi newspaper, while the Nikkei business daily said every new building, including residential houses, will be required to have solar panels by then.

The shift reflects efforts to ensure energy security and safety as regions hit by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out several power stations, face possible blackouts during the peak summer demand period, possibly even beyond this year. READ MORE

 

Japan's TEPCO Admits Further Reactor Meltdowns

By Agence France-Presse

24 May 11

The operator of Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant on Tuesday said it believed fuel had partially melted inside three reactors, as long suspected by experts. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said new readings on water gauges indicated that the fuel had dropped to the bottom of the containment vessels of units two and three, matching its earlier assessment of unit one.

In all three reactors, relatively low temperatures indicated that the fuel was now mostly covered by water that has been pumped into the vessels, meaning there was no immediate threat of an uncontrolled full meltdown. "It is highly possible that (partial) meltdowns have occurred at reactors two and three," a TEPCO spokesman said as the firm released its latest analysis of data from the plant after the March 11 quake and tsunami. READ MORE

 

UN Opens Probe Into Japan's Crippled Nuke Plant

By Malcolm Foster and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

24 May 11

A major international mission to investigate Japan's flooded, radiation-leaking nuclear complex opened Tuesday as new information emerged on just how serious the crisis was in the early days after the March 11 tsunami.

The team of UN nuclear experts met with Japanese officials and were to inspect the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in coming days to investigate the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986 and assess efforts to stabilize the complex by Tokyo's self-declared deadline of early next year.

The Japanese government, which has pledged to cooperate with the experts from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, also announced its own probe into the crisis, appointing a Tokyo academic to head an investigative panel. READ MORE

 

China, South Korea Vow Help in Japan's Recovery

By Chisa Fujioka, Reuters

23 May 11

Japan won pledges of help on Sunday from China and South Korea in its efforts to recover from a an earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis that rocked the nation in March, with Beijing promising to start easing curbs on Japanese food imports.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who hosted an annual summit of the three Asian economic powers this weekend, has counted on the event to help ease concerns at home and abroad about the safety of Japan's nuclear facilities and farm exports.

Several countries, including China and South Korea, restricted Japanese agricultural imports after the March 11 disaster knocked out a nuclear plant on Japan's northeast coast, releasing radiation and raising fears of food contamination. READ MORE

 

Fukushima "Worse Than Chernobyl" When It Comes to Oceans

By Jaymi Heimbuch, TreeHugger

21 May 11

The disaster in Fukushima still has Japan and the rest of the world reeling at the dangers of nuclear power plants. But experts believe that it's the oceans that could bear the brunt of fallout from this most recent power plant failure. In fact, one expert estimates that when it comes to the oceans, Fukushima could be worse than Chernobyl. The National Science Foundation reports, "Japanese officials recently raised the severity of the nuclear power plant incident to level 7, the highest level on the international scale and comparable only to the Chernobyl incident 25 years ago. Radionuclides in seawater have been reported from the Fukushima plant's discharge canals, from coastal waters five to ten kilometers south of the plant, and from 30 kilometers offshore." READ MORE

 

US Was Warned on Vents Before Failure at Japan's Plant

By Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times

21 May 11

Five years before the crucial emergency vents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were disabled by an accident they were supposed to help handle, engineers at a reactor in Minnesota warned American regulators about that very problem.

Anthony Sarrack, one of the two engineers, notified staff members at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the design of venting systems was seriously flawed at his reactor and others in the United States similar to the ones in Japan. He later left the industry in frustration because managers and regulators did not agree.

Mr. Sarrack said that the vents, which are supposed to relieve pressure at crippled plants and keep containment structures intact, should not be dependent on electric power and workers' ability to operate critical valves because power might be cut in an emergency and workers might be incapacitated. Part of the reason the venting system in Japan failed - allowing disastrous hydrogen explosions - is that power to the plant was knocked out by a tsunami that followed a major earthquake. READ MORE

 

Residents Hesitant to Leave Japan Town

 

Japan Quake Could Raise Concerns Elsewhere

By Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer

21 May 11

Scientists sifting through data from the great Japan earthquake in March are uncovering surprises that may raise concerns nearby. Researchers led by Mark Simons of the California Institute of Technology are urging close monitoring of seismic activity in the Ibaraki region immediately south of the spot where the most recent quake occurred.

They are not predicting another quake, Simons stressed in a telephone interview. But the area where the deadly March temblor struck "was believed by many to be not likely to produce a big quake, and that was wrong." So that raises questions about other, similar regions, he said.

"We learned we have to be much more suspicious about what we know for sure, and more explicit about what we don't know," Simons said. Monitoring the region will give scientists clues to the movement of the undersea plates that slipped in the quake. READ MORE

 

Fukushima's Apocalyptic Threat

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

20 May 11

Fukushima may be in an apocalyptic downward spiral.

Forget the corporate-induced media coma that says otherwise ... or nothing at all.

Lethal radiation is spewing unabated. Emission levels could seriously escalate. There is no end in sight. The potential is many times worse than Chernobyl. READ MORE

 

Japan's TEPCO Reports $15 Billion Loss

By Al Jazeera and Agencies

20 May 11

The operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has posted an annual net loss of $15 billion - the biggest-ever loss by a Japanese company outside the financial sector. The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, announced the loss on Friday, and said its president Masataka Shimizu, would step down.

Shimizu apologised at his company's Tokyo headquarters and said he was taking responsibility in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan and damaged the company's plant, sparking a major nuclear crisis. "I wanted to take managerial responsibility and bring a symbolic close," he told reporters, bowing during the news conference. "We are doing our utmost to settle the crisis."

TEPCO is to appoint Toshio Nishizawa, its managing director, to replace Shimizu, effective after a June shareholders meeting. The company has come under criticism for its handling of the crisis - thousands of people have been displaced and radiation levels around the plant still remain high. READ MORE

 

Japan Slides Back Into Recession After Quake

By Yuka Ito, Agency France-Presse

19 May 11

Japan's economy plunged back into recession in January-March, contracting sharply on the impact of the nation's biggest recorded earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear crisis, data showed Thursday. Gross domestic product fell 0.9 percent in the first quarter compared with the previous three months, and marked the second consecutive quarter of contraction, which economists define as a technical recession.

The drop was equivalent to a 3.7 percent fall on an annualised basis. In the aftermath of the disasters, industrial output saw its biggest ever fall and spending plunged as consumer and business confidence took a tumble.

Many analysts see the downturn worsening in April-June, as nationwide supply chain problems in the wake of the quake continue to disrupt production and the threat of power supply disruption prevails. READ MORE

 

Japan's TEPCO Says Shutdown Plan on Schedule

By Yuka Ito, Agency France-Presse

18 May 11

Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Company on Tuesday said its plan to end the crisis at its stricken nuclear plant was on schedule, despite signs that damage to the facility was worse than initially thought.

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station said it still expected to reduce radiation leaks by July and bring its reactors to a stable cold shutdown by January at the latest, in line with last month's plans.

But it altered efforts to cool the plant's number one reactor by filling its containment chamber with water, after discovering thousands of tons of highly radioactive contaminated waste water had leaked into the reactor basement. READ MORE

 

Japan PM: Review Needed of Oversight of Nuclear Power

By Shinichi Saoshiro, Reuters

18 May 11

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said on Wednesday Japan must rethink how nuclear power is regulated and explore other energy sources after a crisis at a tsunami-crippled plant, but sidestepped the question of how big a role atomic energy would play in the country's future.

Kan, battling low support rates, a feisty opposition and rebels in his own party, has pledged a blank-slate review of Japan's current energy policy that aims to boost nuclear power to more than 50 percent of electricity supply by 2020 from about 30 percent now. But whether he can break the grip of the politically powerful utilities remains in doubt.

"We need to fundamentally review the way nuclear policy has been administrated," Kan told a news conference, noting the nuclear safety agency was under the jurisdiction of the trade ministry, which has long promoted nuclear power as a way to reduce Japan's reliance on imported fossil fuels. READ MORE

 

America's New Nuke Showdown Starts Now!

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

17 May 11

The critical first US House vote on a proposed $36 billion loan guarantee package for reactor construction may come as early as June 2. Green power advocates are already calling and writing the White House and Congress early and often, gearing up for a long, definitive showdown.

Germany and Japan have made their decision - the "Lethal Atom" has no future.

The coffin nail is Fukushima. Substantial radiation still leaks from three or more of its six reactors. Volatile fuel rods are dangerously exposed. Various containment and fuel pool structures are compromised. Heat and radiation still pour into our global eco-systems, with no end in sight. READ MORE

 

TEPCO 'Failed to Heed Warnings About Tsunami Risks'

By Reuters

16 May 11

A government body conducted analyses on the damage tsunamis of various scale would inflict on a nuclear power plant, according to documents made public yesterday, adding to allegations that Japan and its largest utility failed to heed warnings.

The latest revelation, reported by the Mainichi daily, emerged as the government prepares to help the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) compensate victims of the crisis at the tsunami-crippled nuclear Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. READ MORE

 

Quake-Hit Japan Pottery Town Picking Up Pieces

By Shigemi Sato, Agency France-Presse

16 May 11

Japan's massive earthquake crushed many of Mashiko's ancient pottery kilns and left its world-famous ceramics in shards, but two months later, its craftsmen are picking up the pieces. The picturesque town, as rustic as the ceramics it has fired for generations, was shaken hard by the March 11 quake, but now the potters of Mashiko are seeing a silver lining despite continuing aftershocks.

Workers from the 300-plus studios in this rural town cleared through the rubble to salvage unbroken works and rushed to create new ones in the surviving kilns for an annual spring pottery fair, Mashiko's biggest money-spinner. Their fans came in droves - 468,000 people flocked to a recent seven-day fair, despite the lingering fears of many of radiation wafting from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear plant 130 kilometres (80 miles) away. READ MORE

 

Japan Widens Evacuations Outside Plant Zone

By Agence France-Presse

15 May 11

Japan on Sunday started the first evacuations of homes outside a government exclusion zone after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled one of the country's nuclear power plants.

Some 4,000 residents of Iidate-mura village as well as 1,100 people in Kawamata-cho town, in the quake-hit northeast, began the phased relocations to public housing, hotels and other facilities in nearby cities.

Their communities are outside the 20-kilometre radius from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, officially designated as an area of forced evacuation due to health risks from the radiation seeping from the ageing and damaged plant. READ MORE

 

Japan Shuts Down Hamaoka Atomic Plant in Quake Danger Zone

By Shigemi Sato, Agency France-Presse

14 May 11

Japan shut down the final working reactor at a nuclear plant near a tectonic faultline Saturday as Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledged a new law to help compensate victims of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Workers suspended the Hamaoka powerstation's number-five reactor at 1:00 pm (0400 GMT) in a bid to avoid a repeat of the atomic emergency sparked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The prime minister called for Hamaoka's closure last week, eight weeks after the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami which knocked out the cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, sparking the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years. READ MORE

 

Plan to Flood Fukushima Reactor Could Cause New Blast

By Justin McCurry, Guardian UK

13 May 11

Experts have warned of a potentially dangerous radiation leak if Japan proceeds with plans to flood a damaged reactor containment vessel at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The facility's operator has admitted uranium fuel rods in the No 1 reactor partially melted after being fully exposed because of the 11 March tsunami. Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said water levels had fallen to at least one metre below four-metre-long fuel rods inside the reactor core and melted fuel had slumped to the bottom of the reactor's containment vessel.

The damage is more severe than Tepco had previously reported and is almost certain to frustrate its quest to bring the plant under control within six to nine months. READ MORE

 

Radiation Found in Seaweed Near Crippled Japan Plant

By Mari Saito, Reuters

13 May 11

Seaweed collected from the coast near Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant and sewage in Tokyo have shown elevated levels of radiation, according to data released by an environmental group and government officials on Friday. The findings, released separately by Greenpeace and Tokyo government officials, underline the difficulty of containing the water-borne spread of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was seriously damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami, triggering a still-unfolding crisis.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power has poured massive amounts of water on four of the reactors at the plant to cool the fuel they contain, but struggled to keep the radioactive water from leaking out to the sea.

Environmental critics have also raised worries about contaminated water seeping into the water table. READ MORE

 

More-Than-Expected Damage Found at Japan Reactor

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

12 May 11

One of the reactors at Japan's crippled nuclear power plant has been damaged more severely than originally thought, officials said Thursday - a serious setback for efforts to stabilize the radiation-leaking complex. Repairs to monitoring equipment revealed the new data, which also showed that the water level in the core of Unit 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is much lower than previously thought, leaving the portion of the fuel rods still intact fully exposed. Other fuel has slumped to the bottom of the pressure vessel and is thought to be covered in water.

The findings also indicate a greater-than-expected leak in that vessel. Radioactive water pouring from troubled reactors has pooled around the complex, hindering work to bring the plant under control. READ MORE

 

Japanese Government Announces Cancellation of All New Nuclear Reactor Builds

By Michelle Frey, Greenpeace

12 May 11

"Greenpeace applauds Prime Minister Kan's ambitious proposal to scrap the construction of 14 new nuclear reactors," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director. "This announcement could put Japan's energy policy on a new path of clean, renewable technologies, what we need now is the will and commitment to see it through." READ MORE

 

TEPCO Seals Radioactive Water Leak at Daiichi Plant

By Shinichi Saoshiro, Reuters

11 May 11

The operator of Japan's tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station said on Wednesday that it has sealed a fresh leak of radioactive water at the plant that it suspected was seeping into the ocean.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power said workers stopped a leak discovered earlier in the day into a storage pit outside Daiichi's No.3 reactor and within meters of the ocean. READ MORE

 

Most Nuclear Plans On Track Outside Japan, Germany

By Malcolm Foster and George Jahn, Associated Press

11 May 11

Japan and Germany are limiting or phasing out reliance on nuclear power after the Fukushima accident - moves that could raise petroleum prices - but most of the rest of the world is undaunted in its pursuit of nuclear energy.

Energy-hungry developing nations such as China, India, Mexico and Iran are moving forward on plans to build more nuclear plants, even as authorities around the world intensify safety inspections of existing plants after Japan's March 11 disaster.

Initial fears that erupted in the wake of the crisis, threatening to derail the nuclear renaissance of the last several years, have largely subsided. Many of the 30-plus countries with nuclear energy programs continue to promote them as a way to combat pollution and global warming - despite radiation risks and questions on what to do with nuclear waste. READ MORE

 

Japan Nuclear Plant Closing While Seawall Is Built

By Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press

09 May 11

A Japanese utility agreed Monday to shutter three nuclear reactors at a coastal power plant while it builds a seawall and improves other tsunami defenses there.

Chubu Electric Power Co. acted at a special board meeting after Prime Minister Naoto Kan requested the temporary shutdown at the Hamaoka plant amid concerns an earthquake magnitude 8.0 or higher could strike the central Japanese region sometime within 30 years.

The government's decision came after evaluating Japan's 54 reactors for quake and tsunami vulnerability after the March 11 disasters that crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeast Japan. The Hamaoka facility sits above a major fault line and has long been considered Japan's riskiest nuclear power plant. READ MORE

 

Quake Shifted Japan; Towns Now Flood at High Tide

By Jay Alabaster, Associated Press

09 May 11

When water begins to trickle down the streets of her coastal neighborhood, Yoshiko Takahashi knows it is time to hurry home. Twice a day, the flow steadily increases until it is knee-deep, carrying fish and debris by her front door and trapping people in their homes. Those still on the streets slosh through the sea water in rubber boots or on bicycle.

"I look out the window, and it's like our houses are in the middle of the ocean," says Takahashi, who moved in three years ago.

The March 11 earthquake that hit eastern Japan was so powerful it pulled the entire country out and down into the sea. The mostly devastated coastal communities now face regular flooding, because of their lower elevation and damage to sea walls from the massive tsunamis triggered by the quake. READ MORE

 

Thousands Rally in Japan Against Nuclear Power

By Harumi Ozawa, Agency France-Presse

07 May 11

Thousands of people rallied in Japan Saturday to demand a shift away from nuclear power after an earthquake and tsunami sparked the world's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl a quarter-century ago.

Braving spring drizzle, thousands of demonstrators gathered at a park in Tokyo's Shibuya district, many holding hand-made banners reading: "Nuclear is old!" and "We want a shift in energy policy!"

The protest came a day after Prime Minister Naoto Kan called a halt to operations at a nuclear plant southwest of Tokyo because it is near a tectonic faultline, fearing a disaster like that which hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant in March. READ MORE

 

Japan to Shut Down Hamaoka Nuclear Plant

By BBC News

06 May 11

Japan's prime minister has told a power company to halt operations at another nuclear plant due to fears an earthquake could trigger a new crisis. Naoto Kan said three reactors at Hamaoka plant should be suspended until new safety measures were put in place.

Experts said the chances of a powerful quake hitting the area were high. READ MORE

 

Workers Enter Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Reactor Building

By Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press

05 May 11

Workers entered one of the damaged reactor buildings at Japan's stricken nuclear power plant Thursday for the first time since it was rocked by an explosion in the days after a devastating earthquake, the plant's operator said.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said workers connected ventilation and air filtration equipment in Unit 1 in an attempt to reduce radiation levels in the air inside the building.

The utility must lower radiation levels before it can proceed with the key step of replacing the cooling system that was knocked out by the March 11 quake and subsequent tsunami that left more than 25,000 people dead or missing along Japan's northeastern coast. READ MORE

 

Japan Mulls New Robot Help With Nuclear Disaster

By Elise Potaka, Agency France-Presse

04 May 11

Japan may be at the forefront of robotics and its children raised on cartoons of robot heroes and villains, but the country has so far had to rely on US-made machines for help tackling its nuclear crisis. The massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out reactor cooling systems at the Fukushima nuclear power plant northeast of Tokyo, where workers are battling to prevent radiation leaks and a total meltdown.

Although Japan is reliant on atomic power and leads the world in developing humanoid machines and industrial robots it has not developed any robots to tackle nuclear accidents. Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has sent in a pair of US-made crawler PackBot robots to examine areas where radiation from the rubble left by explosions is too high for humans to enter. READ MORE

 

Second Nuclear Plant May Be Leaking in Japan

By Environment News Service

03 May 11

Radioactive substances may be leaking from fuel rods at a nuclear power plant in Tsuruga, the Fukui prefectural government said Monday, noting a rise in the level of radioactive substances in the reactor's coolant water.

Japan Atomic Power Co., the utility firm that operates the Tsuruga nuclear plant on the Sea of Japan coast, acknowledged "technical difficulties" at the Unit 2 reactor and confirmed a possible leak of radioactive iodine from the reactor's nuclear fuel rods into the coolant system.

The company said Monday that 4.2 becquerels of iodine-133 and 3,900 becquerels of xenon gas were detected per cubic centimeter of coolant water, up from 2.1 of iodine - 133 and 5.2 becquerels of xenon gas measured during tests conducted April 26. READ MORE

 

Japan Passes $50 Million Quake Relief Budget

By Tetsushi Kajimoto, Reuters

02 May 11

Japan's parliament on Monday passed a $50 billion emergency budget for disaster relief after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, a downpayment on what is set to be country's biggest public works effort in six decades.

The overall cost of damage caused by the world's costliest natural disaster is estimated at $300 billion and the 4 trillion yen emergency budget will be followed by more reconstruction spending packages. Opposition parties backed the first round of spending to finance work such as clearing rubble in the disaster-stricken northeast and building temporary houses.

But reaching agreement on subsequent packages is likely to be much tougher as funding is expected to involve a mix of tax hikes as well as borrowing in the bond market, a strain for Japan which is already saddled with public debt twice the size of its $5 trillion economy. READ MORE

 

Marine Radiation Monitoring Blocked by Japanese Government

By Ike Teuling, Greenpeace

28 April 11

Since the start of the Fukushima disaster I have been following the worrying developments from a safe distance in Amsterdam, but suddenly, I am on rocking ship getting closer to the disaster area every day.

I joined the Rainbow Warrior a week ago in Keelung, Taiwan. Normally I work for Greenpeace Netherlands as a nuclear campaigner, but my radiation expertise was needed on board to guarantee the safety of the crew.

Now we are getting closer to Fukushima, the Japanese government has begun obstructing our efforts to do independent research. The sparse data published by the government and TEPCO is not enough to understand the real risks of the continuous leakage of radioactive water in the sea. READ MORE

 

DYI: Crowdsourcing Japan's Radiation Levels

By D. Parvaz, Al Jazeera

28 April 11

The disaster in Japan has kicked all sorts of activists into high gear – volunteers helping people clear out their tsunami-battered homes, green energy proponents picketing the offices of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) and a bunch of DYI-ers who are roaming Japan with hand-made Geiger counters (a hand-held device used to measure radiation), recording radiation levels. You read that last part correctly.

"We were getting frustrated with what was being reported in the media, what was being released by TEPCO, what was being released by the government," said Sean Bonner, co-founder of Safecast.org, which is currently partially self-funded, partially funded via a Kickstarter fundraiser.

"The information was just kind of unreliable, not updated frequently, no way to fact-check it ... So, we just started thinking: What happens if we go get numbers ourselves? Like, is that an option?" READ MORE

 

Culture of Complicity Tied to Stricken Nuclear Plant

By Norimitsu Onishi, Ken Belson, The New York Times

28 April 11

Given the fierce insularity of Japan's nuclear industry, it was perhaps fitting that an outsider exposed the most serious safety cover-up in the history of Japanese nuclear power. It took place at Fukushima Daiichi, the plant that Japan has been struggling to get under control since last month's earthquake and tsunami.

In 2000, Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese-American nuclear inspector who had done work for General Electric at Daiichi, told Japan's main nuclear regulator about a cracked steam dryer that he believed was being concealed. If exposed, the revelations could have forced the operator, Tokyo Electric Power, to do what utilities least want to do: undertake costly repairs.

What happened next was an example, critics have since said, of the collusive ties that bind the nation’s nuclear power companies, regulators and politicians. READ MORE

 

Radiation Readings at Stricken Japanese Plant Rise to Highest in Crisis

By Tsuyoshi Inajima and Michio Nakayama, Bloomberg News

27 April 11

Radiation readings at Japan's Fukushima Dai-Ichi station rose to the highest since an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems, impeding efforts to contain the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Two robots sent into the reactor No. 1 building at the plant yesterday took readings as high as 1,120 millisierverts of radiation per hour, Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tokyo Electric Power Co., said today. That's more than four times the annual dose permitted to nuclear workers at the stricken plant. READ MORE

 

VIDEO: Arnold Gundersen: Unit 3 Explosion May Have Been Prompt Criticality in Fuel Pool

By Arnold Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates

27 April 11

WATCH THE VIDEO

 

Japanese Govt to Raise Radiation Exposure Levels for Children

By Greenpeace

25 April 11

Greenpeace today called on the Japanese government to drop plans to raise the official limits of radiation exposure for children in Fukushima Prefecture, 20 milliSievert per year - the same level as nuclear power plant workers, and twenty times the internationally recognised annual allowable dose for adults. The international environmental organisation has also asked the governments of nations including Germany, Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia, Canada, Greece, India, France and Italy, to raise the issue with Japan.

"It is utterly outrageous to raise the exposure levels for children to twenty times the maximum limit for adults. The Japanese government cannot simply increase safety limits for the sake of political convenience or to give the impression of normality," said Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director. "One of the lessons learned from Chernobyl was that children are far more vulnerable to the effects of radiation, and the Fukushima nuclear crisis will expose them to much higher risks of developing radiation related diseases due to contamination." READ MORE

 

Trouble With the Spent Fuel Pool (with video)

By NHK World

25 April 11

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is carefully monitoring the situation at the Number 4 spent fuel pool, where the water temperature is rising despite increased injections of cooling water.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says it will inject 210 tons of water into the pool on Monday, after finding on Sunday evening that the temperature in the pool had risen to 81 degrees Celsius.

The utility firm had earlier limited the amount of water being injected into the pool to 70 tons a day, saying the weight of the water could weaken the reactor building, which was already damaged in last month's hydrogen explosion. READ MORE

 

Japan to Launch Massive Search for
Bodies of Earthquake, Tsunami Victims

By Shino Yuasa, Associated Press

24 April 11

Japan will send nearly 25,000 soldiers backed by boats and aircraft into its disaster zone Monday on an intensive land-and-sea mission to recover the bodies of those killed by last month's earthquake and tsunami, the military said.

Agriculture officials also plan to send a team of veterinarians into the evacuation zone around a stricken nuclear plant to check on hundreds of thousands of abandoned cows, pigs and chickens, many of which are believed to have died of starvation and neglect. The government is considering euthanizing some of the dying animals, officials said.

About 14,300 people have been confirmed dead so far in the catastrophic March 11 tsunami and earthquake. Another 12,000 remain missing and are presumed killed. Some of their bodies were likely swept out to sea, while others were buried under the mass of rubble. READ MORE

 

Japan Earmarks First $50 Billion for Post-Quake Rebuild

By Tetsushi Kajimoto and Linda Sieg, Reuters

23 April 11

Japan's cabinet approved on Friday almost $50 billion of spending for post-earthquake rebuilding, a downpayment on the country's biggest public works effort in six decades.

The emergency budget of 4 trillion yen ($48.5 billion), which is likely be followed by more reconstruction spending packages, is still dwarfed by the overall cost of damages caused by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, estimated at $300 billion.

"With this budget, we are taking one step forward toward reconstruction ... and toward restarting the economy," Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters after a cabinet meeting. READ MORE

 

Citizen Monitors Keep a Wary Eye on Radiation and Government

By Jeff McMahon, Forbes

21 April 11

Retired high-school science teacher Don Curry visits a radiation monitoring station on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas a few times a week, records data and collects air filters that may contain radioactive isotopes trapped on the wind.

He does this, in part, so citizens don't have to take the government's word on radiation exposure.

"You know the history of this?" Curry asked me Monday as we stood at his station outside the Atomic Testing Museum. "We don't trust the government. That's what's going on." READ MORE

 

Fukushima Gov. Won't Allow TEPCO to Resume Reactor Operations

By Kyodo News

21 April 11

Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato said Friday he will never allow Tokyo Electric Power Co. to resume operations at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.READ MORE

 

Japan Declares No-Go Zone Around Nuclear Plant

By Eric Talmadge, Associated Press

21 April 11

Residents rushed back into the 12-mile (20-kilometer) evacuation zone around Japan's radiation-spewing nuclear power plant Thursday, grabbing whatever belongings they could before an order went into effect legally banning entry to the area.

A stream of evacuees ventured into deserted towns near the plant, some in white protective suits and others in face masks and rain gear they hoped would protect against radiation. Most raced through the zone with car windows closed, their vehicles crammed with clothing and valuables.

Officials said the order announced Thursday was meant to limit exposure to radiation leaking from the plant and to prevent thefts. Almost all the zone's nearly 80,000 residents left when the area was evacuated on March 12, but police had not been able to legally block them from going back. READ MORE

 

Japan Declares No-Go Zone Around Nuclear Plant

By Eric Talmadge, Associated Press

21 April 11

Residents rushed back into the 12-mile (20-kilometer) evacuation zone around Japan's radiation-spewing nuclear power plant Thursday, grabbing whatever belongings they could before an order went into effect legally banning entry to the area.

A stream of evacuees ventured into deserted towns near the plant, some in white protective suits and others in face masks and rain gear they hoped would protect against radiation. Most raced through the zone with car windows closed, their vehicles crammed with clothing and valuables.

Officials said the order announced Thursday was meant to limit exposure to radiation leaking from the plant and to prevent thefts. Almost all the zone's nearly 80,000 residents left when the area was evacuated on March 12, but police had not been able to legally block them from going back. READ MORE

 

Fukushima Plant Starts Pumping Out Radioactive Water

By Mari Yamaguchi and Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press

19 April 11

The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear plant began pumping highly radioactive water from the basement of one of its buildings to a makeshift storage area Tuesday in a crucial step toward easing the nuclear crisis.

Removing the 25,000 metric tons (about 6.6 million gallons) of contaminated water that has collected in the basement of a turbine building at Unit 2 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant will help allow access for workers trying to restore vital cooling systems that were knocked out in the March 11 tsunami.

It is but one of many steps in a lengthy process to resolve the crisis. Tokyo Electric Power Co. projected in a road map released over the weekend that it would take up to nine months to reach a cold shutdown of the plant. But government officials acknowledge that setbacks could slow the timeline. READ MORE

 

Analysis: Japan Nuclear Crisis Could Drag On Long Past Timetable

By Reuters

19 April 11

Japan's Tokyo Electric Power Co faces hurdles in its plan to shut down its crippled nuclear reactors in six to nine months. The operation could be delayed or derailed altogether if unknown factors, like another powerful quake, are taken into account.

A list of the things that could go wrong shows that the operation could take longer - or be derailed altogether if unknown factors are considered, like another powerful quake.

Even the government was quick on Monday to lower expectations. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference that the time frame could be achieved if "everything goes smoothly." READ MORE

 

Radioactivity Rises in Sea off Japan Nuclear Plant

By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

16 April 11

Levels of radioactivity have risen sharply in seawater near a tsunami - crippled nuclear plant in northern Japan, signaling the possibility of new leaks at the facility, the government said Saturday.

The announcement came after a magnitude - 5.9 earthquake jolted Japan on Saturday morning, hours after the country's nuclear safety agency ordered plant operators to beef up their quake preparedness systems to prevent a recurrence of the nuclear crisis.

There were no reports of damage from the earthquake, and there was no risk of a tsunami similar to the one that struck the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant March 11 after a magnitude - 9.0 earthquake, causing Japan's worst - ever nuclear plant disaster. READ MORE

 

Fukushima and the 'Nuclear Renaissance' That Wasn't

By Kevin Voigt and Irene Chapple, CNN

15 April 11

A month after a devastating earthquake sent a wall of water across the Japanese landscape, the global terrain of the atomic power industry has been forever altered. The ongoing drama at the power plant in Fukushima - a name now ranked alongside Three Mile Island and Chernobyl as history's worst nuclear accidents - has erased the momentum the nuclear industry has seen in recent years.

The growth in the emerging world, such as China and India, fueled increased demand in planned reactors. Oil-rich regions like the United Arab Emirates and smaller nations like Vietnam announced plans to build nuclear reactors in the past year. Once the bane of environmentalists, the nuclear industry enjoyed newfound "green" credentials as a cleaner alternative to coal - fired plants that belch greenhouse gases to produce electricity.

Before Fukushima, a "nuclear renaissance" - as it was termed in the press - seemed well underway, except for this point: Nuclear power, as a total of world energy supply, has been in steady decline for the past decade. READ MORE

 

Onagawa Nuke Plant Suffers Jolt Greater Than Designed in Aftershock

By Kyodo News

13 April 11

The No. 1 reactor of the Onagawa nuclear power plant in Miyagi Prefecture on April 7 sustained a jolt greater than what it was designed to withstand during a strong aftershock from the powerful March 11 earthquake, according to nuclear safety officials. The finding raises further doubts about the viability of the assumed quake resistance at the Tohoku Electric Power Co. complex, even though it had been shut down safely after the deadly quake last month.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has instructed the regional utility serving northeastern Japan to analyze the impact of such a jolt on key facilities at the three-reactor plant, the officials said. READ MORE

 

Groundwater Radiation Level at Nuke Plant Rises: TEPCO

By Kyodo News

13 April 11

The concentration levels of radioactive iodine and cesium in groundwater near the troubled Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have increased up to several dozen times in one week, suggesting that toxic water has seeped from nearby reactor turbine buildings or elsewhere, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday.

The announcement came as the plant operator continued to grapple with pools of highly radioactive water found on the plant's premises, with the level of polluted water filling an underground trench edging up again after the company finished pumping out around 660 tons of water. READ MORE

 

Excessive Radioactive Cesium Found in Fish Caught off Fukushima

By Kyodo News

13 April 11

Radioactive cesium 25 times above the legal limit for consumption was detected Wednesday in young sand lance caught off Fukushima Prefecture, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said. One of the sample fish had a level of cesium of 12,500 becquerels per kilogram about 500 meters off the city of Iwaki, and 35 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, it said. The limit is 500 becquerels under the Food Sanitation Law. READ MORE

 

Radiation Surges Above Reactor 4's Fuel Pool

By Kanako Takahara, Japan Times

13 April 11

Radiation has risen to high levels above the spent-fuel pool at reactor No. 4 and its temperature is rising, the nuclear safety agency said Wednesday, indicating the fuel rods have been further damaged and emitting radioactive substances.

The radiation level 6 meters above the spent-fuel storage pool at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was measured at 84 millisieverts per hour Tuesday. Normally, it's 0.1 microsievert. The temperature of the pool was 90 degrees, compared with 84 before it caught fire on March 15 in a suspected hydrogen explosion, the agency said.

"It's quite an amount," figured Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. READ MORE

 

Despite Japanese Gov't Claims of Decreasing Radiation, Fukushima a "Ticking Time Bomb"

By Amy Goodman, Dr. Michio Kaku, Democracy Now!

13 April 11

The Japanese government is trying to calm fears about radiation levels and food safety in the region around the heavily damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility, even as it has raised the severity rating of the crisis to the highest possible level. "Radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors. The situation is not stable at all," says Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and the City College of New York. "The slightest disturbance could set off a full-scale meltdown at three nuclear power stations, far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl." READ MORE

 

Japan's Nuclear Crisis Evacuees Demand Compensation

By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press

13 April 11

Small business owners and laborers forced to leave their homes and jobs because of radiation leaking from Japan's tsunami-flooded nuclear plant rode a bus all the way to Tokyo on Wednesday to demand compensation from the plant's operator.

People are increasingly growing frustrated with Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s handling of the nuclear crisis, which has progressed fitfully since the March 11 tsunami swamped the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, knocking out important cooling systems. Restoring them will take months.

"I am not asking for anything more than I am entitled to," said Ichijiro Ishikawa, 69, who dug roads and tunnels and is now living in a shelter because his home is in a 12-mile evacuation zone around the plant. "I just want my due." READ MORE

 

Japan Rates Its Nuclear Crisis as Severe as Chernobyl

By Kenji Hall and John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times

12 April 11

The level 7 rating for the crisis at the quake and tsunami - stricken Fukushima power plant is based on the amount radiation released. A day earlier, three new quakes hit as Japan announces plans to expand the evacuation zone.

Reporting from Tokyo and Rikuzentakata, Japan Japanese nuclear regulatory officials Tuesday raised the severity rating at the earthquake and tsunami - damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant to the highest level by international standards, equaling the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in the former Soviet Union. READ MORE

 

Tsunami-Hit Towns Forgot Warnings From Ancestors

By Jay Alabaster, Associated Press

09 April 11

Modern sea walls failed to protect coastal towns from Japan's destructive tsunami last month. But in the hamlet of Aneyoshi, a single centuries - old tablet saved the day. "High dwellings are the peace and harmony of our descendants," the stone slab reads. "Remember the calamity of the great tsunamis. Do not build any homes below this point."

It was advice the dozen or so households of Aneyoshi heeded, and their homes emerged unscathed from a disaster that flattened low - lying communities elsewhere and killed thousands along Japan's northeastern shore.

Hundreds of such markers dot the coastline, some more than 600 years old. Collectively they form a crude warning system for Japan, whose long coasts along major fault lines have made it a repeated target of earthquakes and tsunamis over the centuries. READ MORE

 

TEPCO Tries to Enclose High Radiation in Sea in Nuke Crisis

By Kyodo News

09 April 11

Tokyo Electric Power Co. started Saturday to install enclosing materials in the sea to prevent a further spread of highly radioactive water that seeped from a crisis-hit nuclear power plant, while continuing other efforts to stabilize Japan's worst nuclear crisis. READ MORE

 

Companies Nix Higher Radiation Dose Limit

By Kyodo News, Japan Times

09 April 11

Companies dispatching workers to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are refusing to enforce the government's raised limit on radiation exposure, saying it would not be accepted by their workers, it was learned Saturday.

The limit was increased from 100 millisieverts to 250 millisieverts in a March 15 announcement by the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

The increase was requested by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry to enable workers to work longer hours and to secure more employees who meet the requirement. READ MORE

 

Japan Aftershock Kills Four, Causes Radioactive Water Spill

By Kyodo News

07 April 11

Radioactive water spilled from pools holding spent nuclear fuel rods at the Onagawa power plant in Miyagi Prefecture following the strong earthquake late Thursday, the nuclear safety agency said Friday. At the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant or at another plant in Fukushima Prefecture, meanwhile, no new problems have surfaced since the magnitude 7.1 aftershock of the deadly March 11 quake.. READ MORE

 

Millions Without Power After Japan Aftershock

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Andrew Pollack, The New York Times

07 April 11

TOKYO — More than 450,000 households remained without electricity on Friday evening after the strongest aftershock to hit since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan rocked a wide section of the country’s northeast. The public broadcaster, NHK, said two people had died in Miyagi and Yamagata, including a 63-year-old woman whose ventilator stopped working in the blackout, and The Associated Press later reported a third person had died. Many more were injured. Of about 3.6 million households initially affected, more than 450,000 were still without power Friday evening, The Associated Press reported, citing the utility that serves the region.READ MORE

 

Strong Aftershock Rattles Disaster-Weary Japan

By Jay Alabaster and Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press

07 April 11

A big aftershock rocked quake-weary Japan late Thursday, rattling nerves as it knocked out power to the northern part of the country and prompted tsunami warnings that were later canceled.

The quake was initially measured at magnitude-7.4, though the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo., later downgraded it to 7.1. Either way, it was the strongest aftershock since several were recorded on March 11 - the day of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and tsunami that killed as many as 25,000 people and touched off a nuclear crisis last month.

There were no immediate reports of serious injuries or major damage, and the operator of the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant said there was no sign the aftershock had caused new problems there. Workers retreated to a quake-resistant shelter in the complex, with no injuries. READ MORE

 

TEPCO, Government Ties Resulted in
Nuke Plant Malfunction

By Jun Hongo, Japan Times

07 April 11

Earthquakes and tsunami are unavoidable natural events, but the ongoing disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was induced by "human errors" stemming from cozy ties between bureaucrats and Tokyo Electric Power Co., former Fukushima Gov. Eisaku Sato told The Japan Times on Wednesday. READ MORE

 

Japan Stops Highly Radioactive Water Leak

 

Radiation Exposure Debate Rages Inside EPA

By Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, News Release

06 April 11

A plan awaiting approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that would dramatically increase permissible radioactive releases in drinking water, food and soil after "radiological incidents" is drawing vigorous objections from agency experts, according to agency documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). At issue is the acceptable level of public health risk following a radiation release, whether an accidental spill or a "dirty bomb" attack.

The radiation arm of EPA, called the Office of Radiation and Indoor Air (ORIA), has prepared an update of the 1992 "Protective Action Guides" (PAG) governing radiation protection decisions for both short-term and long-term cleanup standards. Other divisions within EPA contend the ORIA plan geometrically raises allowable exposure to the public. READ MORE

 

Japan's Nuclear Plant Operator Finds Highly Radioactive Water

By Mayumi Negishi and Yoko Nishikawa, Reuters

05 April 11

The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear power plant said on Tuesday it had found water with 5 million times the legal limit of radioactivity as it struggles for a fourth week to contain the world's biggest nuclear disaster in quarter of a century.

Underlining the concern over spreading radiation, the government said it was considering imposing radioactivity restrictions on seafood for the first time in the crisis after a contaminated fish was found in seas well south of the damaged nuclear reactors.

The plant's operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) offered token "condolence" money to those affected in the Fukushima region where the plant is based, the local mayors who came to Tokyo to meet Prime Minister Naoto Kan made clear they expected far more help. READ MORE

 

'Worse Than Chernobyl'

By Tom Burnett, Hawaii News Daily

04 April 11

Fukushima is going to dwarf Chernobyl. The Japanese government has had a level 7 nuclear disaster going for almost a week but won't admit it.

The disaster is occurring the opposite way than Chernobyl, which exploded and stopped the reaction. At Fukushima, the reactions are getting worse. I suspect three nuclear piles are in meltdown and we will probably get some of it.

If reactor 3 is in meltdown, the concrete under the containment looks like lava. But Fukushima is not far off the water table. When that molten mass of self-sustaining nuclear material gets to the water table it won't simply cool down. It will explode - not a nuclear explosion, but probably enough to involve the rest of the reactors and fuel rods at the facility. READ MORE

 

Concrete Fails to Plug leak at Fukushima Nuclear Plant

By Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times

03 April 11

The operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said Saturday that highly radioactive water was leaking from a pit near a reactor into the ocean, which may partially explain the high levels of radioactivity that have been found in seawater off the coast.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it had detected an 8 - inch crack in the concrete pit holding power cables near reactor No. 2 and was working to seal the fracture. Tepco said the water was coming directly from the reactor and the radiation level was 1,000 millisieverts an hour. The annual limit of radiation exposure allowed for Fukushima workers is 250 millisieverts. READ MORE

 

Japan's Gov't Aware of Meltdown Possibility Before Quake

By Kyodo News

03 April 11

The government was aware of the possibility that the reactor cores of nuclear plants could partially melt down if all power supply equipment was crippled, making it impossible to cool down the cores' nuclear fuel, even before the March 11 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, according to last May's lower house minutes.

Nobuaki Terasaka, who heads the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said on May 26, ''It is logically possible for a reactor core to melt down if all outer electricity sources were lost, leading the plant's cooling functions to be lost for many hours,'' according to the minutes of a House of Representatives committee. READ MORE

 

Controlling Japan Nuclear Plant Could Take Months

By Ryan Nakashima and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

03 April 11

It could take several more months to bring Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant under control, a safety agency spokesman said Sunday as engineers tried to find a way to stop highly radioactive water from pouring into the Pacific.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex has been spewing radioactivity since the March 11 tsunami carved a path of destruction along Japan's northeastern coast, killing as many as 25,000 people. The final death toll is not known because many are still missing.

Nuclear safety agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama on Sunday offered the first sense of how long it might take to bring an end to the nuclear crisis, which has forced people within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the plant to abandon their homes due to radiation concerns.

"It would take a few months until we finally get things under control and have a better idea about the future," Nishiyama said. "We'll face a crucial turning point within the next few months, but that is not the end." READ MORE

 

The FDA and the Fukushima Fallout

By Robert Alvarez, Reader Supported News

02 April 11

No matter how small the dose might be, it is disingenuous to compare an exposure to a specific radioisotope that is released by a major nuclear accident, with radiation exposures in everyday life. The FDA spokesperson should have informed the public that radioiodine provides a unique form of exposure in that it concentrates rapidly in dairy products and in the human thyroid. The dose received, based on official measurements, may be quite small, and pose an equally small risk. However, making a conclusion on the basis of one measurement is fragmentary at best and unscientific at worst. As the accident in Fukushima continues to unfold, the public should be provided with all measurements made of radioactive fallout from the Fukushima reactors to allow for independent analyses. READ MORE

 

Gov't Focus On Nuke Crisis Angers Tsunami Victims

By Eugene Hoshiko and Jay Alabaster, Associated Press

02 April 11

As Japan's prime minister visited tsunami - ravaged coastal areas for the first time Saturday, frustrated evacuees complained that the government has been too focused on the nuclear crisis that followed the massive wave. Nearly every day some new problem at the stricken Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant commands officials' attention - Saturday it was a newly discovered crack in a maintenance pit that is leaking highly radioactive water into the sea.

"The government has been too focused on the Fukushima power plant rather than the tsunami victims. Both deserve attention," said 35 - year - old Megumi Shimanuki, who was visiting her family at a community center converted into a shelter in hard - hit Natori, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) from Rikuzentakata, where Prime Minister Naoto Kan stopped Saturday. More than 165,000 people are still living in shelters.

Kan's government has been frantically working with Tokyo Electric Power Co. to solve the crisis at the nuclear complex, which has been spewing radioactivity since cooling systems were disabled by the 9.0 - magnitude earthquake that preceded the tsunami on March 11. READ MORE

 

Radioactive Water Confirmed to Have Seeped Into Sea From Nuke Plant

By Kyodo News

01 April 11

Water with high levels of radiation has been confirmed to have seeped into the sea from the No. 2 reactor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, government officials said Saturday, raising wider fears of environmental contamination by the release of radioactivity.

The water has been leaking into the sea from a 20-centimeter crack detected at a pit in the reactor where power cables are stored, the government's nuclear safety agency said, adding that Tokyo Electric Power Co., known as TEPCO, is ready to encase the fracture in concrete.

The first detection of tainted water flowing out into the Pacific Ocean could force the government and the operator to limit further expansion of radioactive contamination, likely hampering efforts to restore the crippled cooling functions at the complex. READ MORE

 

GE Designed Fukushima Nuclear Containment Systems

By Andrew Longstreth, Reuters

01 April 11

The Japanese nuclear crisis has created a public-relations headache for General Electric Co, but the company so far has escaped any legal fallout, and many experts expect it will continue to do so.

GE designed the Mark 1 containment systems used in reactors at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, and after a magnitude 9 earthquake and a tsunami devastated northeast Japan on March 11, vessels intended to protect the reactors came under severe stress amidst explosions and fires and may have leaked radiation.

In the three weeks since the disaster, no lawsuits are known to have been filed against Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE either in Japan or in the United States. While GE could face lawsuits in the future, of course, any potential plaintiffs would have to overcome high hurdles, according to a wide array of legal experts, including nuclear law specialists and lawyers who represent plaintiffs and defendants in mass-tort litigation. READ MORE

 

Radioactive Substance Exceeding Limit Found in Beef in Fukushima Pref.

By Kyodo News

01 April 11

The health ministry said Thursday that beef in Fukushima Prefecture, where the crippled nuclear power plant is located, contained a radioactive material exceeding the legal limit, making it the first such detection in beef. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said 510 becquerels of radioactive cesium was detected in beef from Tenei, Fukushima Prefecture, above the 500-becquerel legal limit set under the food sanitation law READ MORE

 

Japan Nuke Workers ‘Have Committed Themselves to Die if Necessary’

By Zachary Roth, Yahoo News

01 April 11

The mother of one of the atomic "samurai" working to bring Japan's stricken nuclear plant under control has said her son and his colleagues expect to die as a result of their efforts. Meanwhile, there are reports that additional workers are being offered big money to dash into the radiation-drenched heart of the Fukushima Daiichi. READ MORE

 

Up to 1,000 Corpses Believed Irradiated, Inaccessible

By Kyodo News

01 April 11

Radiation fears have prevented authorities from collecting as many as 1,000 bodies of victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami from within the 20-kilometer-radius evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, police sources said Thursday.

One of the sources said bodies had been ''exposed to high levels of radiation after death.'' The view was supported by the detection Sunday of elevated levels of radiation on a body found in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, about 5 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

The authorities are now considering how to collect the bodies, given fears that police officers, doctors and bereaved families may be exposed to radiation in retrieving the radiation-exposed bodies or at morgues, according to the sources. READ MORE

 

Citizen Action in Japan Prevented Larger Plutonium Disaster at Fukushima Reactor 3

By Beyond Nuclear, Common Dreams

01 April 11

A concerted Japanese citizen action that delayed the loading of mixed plutonium-uranium fuel - known as MOX - into the core of the Unit 3 reactor at Fukushima and prevented the use of MOX at several other reactors, likely prevented a far worse outcome than is currently occurring at the troubled reactor today.

Japanese citizen groups successfully resisted the use of MOX fuel at Fukushima-Daiichi for a decade. MOX fuel was not loaded into the reactor until August 21, 2010 and the reactor began operation on September 18, 2010. Consequently, all the MOX fuel remains in the core and none of it had yet been transferred to the unprotected fuel pool. READ MORE

 

Inside Evacuation Zone, Long Lines Outdoors for Rations

By BBC News

01 April 11

"This is my life now. We can't live a 'relatively normal' life if we stay inside our house for too long but also, I have to worry about my health when we have to go outside to pick up the rations. The nuclear power plant is a worry. When will this situation end and what will happen now?

"I don't have confidence in the government's actions especially because I am in the area that has been ambiguously designated the 'Indoor Evacuation Zone' ( although apparently they are now encouraging voluntary evacuations from here too).

"Indoor evacuation makes no sense because you cannot stay at home all the time. It makes me wonder if this is a ploy by the government to avoid responsibility if we all suffer health issues as a result of radiation exposure - I suppose they could argue that they had informed us not to go out. One just has to laugh ..." READ MORE

 

Man Arrested After Breaking Into Fukushima Daini Plant Premises

By Kyodo News

01 April 11

An unemployed man from Tokyo was arrested Friday after allegedly intruding by car into the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant premises, near the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi plant in Fukushima Prefecture, police said.

Hikaru Watanabe, 25, from Shinjuku Ward, allegedly broke through the western gate of the Daini plant around 1:10 p.m. Thursday, before driving inside its premises for about 10 minutes, the plants' operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said, adding that no one was injured in the incident. Watanabe was arrested on suspicion of unlawful entry and property destruction, the local police said, adding that he admitted to the allegations. The purpose of the intrusion remains unknown.

The police, who were alerted to the incident and went to the scene, asked the suspect to voluntarily go with them for questioning. The vehicle and the suspect underwent a radiation decontamination process before being taken to a police facility, they said.

About 50 minutes before the incident, the suspect's vehicle attempted to break through the front gate of the crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant, which is located about 12 kilometers north of the Daini plant, but he was blocked by Tokyo Electric Power employees, company officials said.

READ MORE

 

Groundwater at Fukushima Plant "Highly" Radiation-Contaminated

By Kyodo News

30 March 11

More signs of serious radiation contamination in and near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were detected Thursday, with the latest data finding groundwater containing radioactive iodine 10,000 times the legal threshold and the concentration of radioactive iodine-131 in nearby seawater rising to the highest level yet.

Radioactive material was confirmed from groundwater for the first time since the March 11 quake and tsunami hit the nuclear power plant on the Pacific coast, knocking out the reactors' key cooling functions. An official of the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said, ''We're aware this is an extremely high figure.''

The contaminated groundwater was found from around the No. 1 reactor's turbine building, although the radiation level of groundwater is usually so low that it cannot be measured. READ MORE

 

EPA Boosts Radiation Monitoring After Low Levels Found in Milk

By CNN Wire Staff

30 March 11

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is increasing its nationwide monitoring of radiation as two states reported very low levels of radiation in milk.

The agency said Wednesday it is boosting its monitoring of radiation in milk, precipitation, drinking water, and other outlets. It already tracks radiation in those potential exposure routes through an existing network of stations across the country.

Results from screening samples of milk taken in the past week in Spokane, Washington, and in San Luis Obispo County, California, detected radioactive iodine at a level 5,000 times lower than the limit set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, officials said. READ MORE

VIDEO: Update on Fukushima

By Fairewinds Associates

31 March 11

Arnie Gundersen discusses the situation at the Fukishima plant, and the differences between the accident scenarios that the nuclear industry previously planned for and what has actually happened. READ MORE

 

Confidence Slips Away as Japan Battles Nuclear Peril

By Ken Belson and Hiroko Tabuchi, The New York Times

30 March 11

After workers switched on the first set of control room lights at Japan's crippled power plant in Fukushima last week, the Japanese government offered its strongest assurances yet that its nuclear crisis was close to being under control.

Heroic workers and firefighters continued to cool the volatile reactors by pumping in hundreds of tons of water a day. Much-awaited electricity had reached the plant after a rush to extend new power lines, ready to hook up to vital cooling systems and guide the plant to a long-term "cold shutdown."

But less than a week later, a deluge of contaminated water, plutonium traces in the soil and an increasingly hazardous environment for workers at the plant have forced government officials to confront the reality that the emergency measures they have taken to keep nuclear fuel cool are producing increasingly dangerous side effects. And the prospect of restoring automatic cooling systems anytime soon is fading. READ MORE

 

Pregnant Women Fleeing to Kansai

By Eric Johnston, The Japan Times

28 March 11

Kansai area hospitals and the Osaka Prefectural Government say a growing number of pregnant women from the devastated Tohoku region, as well as some in Tokyo worried about the possible effects of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, are moving to the area to give birth.

In the aftermath of the March 11 quake and tsunami, and amid fears in Tokyo of increased radiation levels in the tap water and air, many residents of eastern Japan have temporarily relocated to the Kansai region, especially pregnant women.

The Osaka Prefectural Government said late last week that 149 women from Tokyo and Chiba, Kanagawa, Fukushima, and Miyagi prefectures had arrived in Osaka hospitals to give birth since the disaster, and forecast that the number could increase. Among them, 58 were from Tokyo, where the discovery last week of high levels of radioactive iodine in the water supply led officials to issue a precautionary warning that infants should not drink tap water or milk formula made with tap water. READ MORE

 

Tainted Water at 2 Reactors Increases Alarm for Japanese

By David Jolly, Hiroko Tabuchi and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times

28 March 11

Japan's troubled effort to contain the nuclear contamination crisis at its stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant suffered a setback on Sunday when alarmingly high radiation levels were discovered in a flooded area inside the complex, raising new questions about how and when recovery workers could resume their tasks.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator, said the elevated radiation levels in the water, which had flooded the turbine buildings adjacent to the reactors at the plant, were at least four times the permissible exposure levels for workers at the plant and 100,000 times more than water ordinarily found at a nuclear facility.

That could mean crews seeking to determine damage and fix the problems at the plant, hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami more than two weeks ago, may not be able to approach some of the most troubled parts of the complex until the water can be safely removed. READ MORE

 

Radiation in Mass. Rainwater Likely From Japan

By Associated Press

28 March 11

Health officials said Sunday that one sample of Massachusetts rainwater has registered very low concentrations of radiation, most likely from the Japanese nuclear power plant damaged earlier this month by an earthquake and tsunami.

John Auerbach, the Massachusetts commissioner of public health, said that radioiodine-131 found in the sample - one of more than 100 that have been taken around the country - is short lived. He said the drinking water supply in the state was unaffected and officials do not expect any health concerns.

Nevada and other Western states also have reported minuscule amounts of radiation, but scientists say those presented no health risks. READ MORE

 

Historic Victory for Anti-Nuclear German Greens

By Juergen Baetz, Associated Press

27 March 11

Germany's anti-nuclear Greens on Sunday scored a remarkable victory over chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party in a state election that had turned into a referendum on nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster.

The Greens doubled their voter share in wealthy Baden-Wuerttemberg state and seemed poised to oust Merkel's Christian Democrats who held power there for almost six decades, according to preliminary results released by the state electoral commission.

The Greens are also set to win their first ever state governorship, the results showed. READ MORE

 

Radiation Levels Soar at Japan Nuclear Plant

By Shingo Ito, Agence France-Presse

27 March 11

Very high levels of radiation detected in water leaking from a reactor at a nuclear plant in Japan dealt a new setback Sunday to efforts to bring the stricken facility under control.

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant said it had detected radiation levels 10 million times higher than usual in leaked water at reactor two, as white steam continued to rise from the tsunami - battered facility.

The radiation level was 1,000 millisieverts per hour, making it too dangerous to remain at the reactor turbine building and forcing the evacuation of workers there, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power said. READ MORE

 

More Obstacles Impede Crews in Nuclear Crisis

By Yuri Kageyama and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

27 March 11

Mounting problems, including incorrect radiation figures and a shortage of storage tanks, stymied emergency workers Sunday as they tried to nudge Japan's stricken nuclear complex back from the edge of disaster. Workers are struggling to remove radioactive water from the tsunami-ravaged nuclear compound and restart the regular cooling systems for the dangerously hot fuel.

The day began with company officials reporting that radiation in leaking water in the Unit 2 reactor was 10 million times above normal, a spike that forced employees to flee the unit. The day ended with officials saying the huge figure had been miscalculated and offering apologies. "The number is not credible," said Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita. "We are very sorry." READ MORE

 

Massive Clean-Up Operations Begin in Japan

 

Gaps in US Radiation Monitoring System Revealed

By Associated Press

27 March 11

Parts of America's radiation alert network have been out of order during Japan's nuclear crisis, raising concerns among some lawmakers about whether the system could safeguard the country in a future disaster.

Federal officials say the system of sensors has helped them to validate the impact of nuclear fallout from the overheated Fukushima reactor, and in turn alert local governments and the public. They say no dangerous levels of radiation have reached US shores.

In California, home to two seaside nuclear plants located close to earthquake fault lines, federal authorities said four of the 11 stationary monitors were offline for repairs or maintenance last week. The Environmental Protection Agency said the machines operate outdoors year-round and periodically need maintenance, but did not fix them until a few days after low levels of radiation began drifting toward the mainland US. READ MORE

 

Japan Levels of Radioactive Materials Skyrocketing in Sea

By Andrew Morse, Mitsuru Obe and Megumi Fujikawa, The Wall Street Journal

26 March 11

TOKYO - The regulator overseeing Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex on Saturday announced a sharp elevation in radioactive contamination had been detected in nearby seawater, furthering signs of distress at a plant where officials had cautioned of radioactive leaks near hobbled reactors the day before.

A spokesman said the spike in radioactive iodine - to 1,250 times the legal limit - didn't pose an immediate threat to human health or the area environment, since the material quickly dissipates in the tides and would become diluted before reaching fish and seaweed.

"Because nobody is engaged in fishery in the evacuation area within a radius of 20 kilometers [from the plant], there will be no immediate impact on people in the area," added Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told reporters at a news conference Saturday morning. READ MORE

 

Update: Breach Suspected at Troubled Japanese
Power Plant

By Shino Yuasa and Jeff Donn, Associated Press

25 March 11

A possible breach at Japan's troubled nuclear plant escalated the crisis anew Friday, two full weeks after an earthquake and tsunami first compromised the facility. The development suggested radioactive contamination may be worse than first thought, with tainted groundwater the most likely consequence.

Japanese leaders defended their decision not to evacuate people from a wider area around the plant, insisting they are safe if they stay indoors. But officials also said residents may want to voluntarily move to areas with better facilities, since supplies in the tsunami-devastated region are running short. READ MORE

 

Japan's Struggle: Identity Versus Adversity

By D. Parvaz, Al Jazeera

25 March 11

The capital of Japan’s second-largest prefecture continues to take a disproportionate number of body - blows from the earthquake and tsunami that hit its coastlines on March 11.

Not only did it lose at least 2,650 - by last count - of its roughly 1.3 million population (with another 5,022 missing), local authorities in Iwate prefecture must now determine the level of aid needed and how to mobilise resources in one of the poorest and least densely-populated prefectures in Japan.

Kazuo Shimizu, spokesperson for Iwate's office of government disaster response, told Al Jazeera that there are 387 shelters and evacuation centres in Iwate, where transporting water, food, powdered milk, gas, heating oil and gasoline has become the top challenge. READ MORE

 

Dangerous Breach Suspected at Japanese
Nuke Plant

By Shino Yuasa and Jay Alabaster, Associated Press

23 March 11

A suspected breach in the reactor core at one unit of a stricken Fukushima nuclear plant could mean more serious radioactive contamination,Japanese officials said Friday, revealing what may prove a major setback in the mission to bring the leaking plant under control.

The uncertain situation halted work at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, where dozens had been working feverishly to stop the overheated plant from leaking dangerous radiation, officials said. The plant has leaked some low levels of radiation, but a breach could mean a much larger release of contaminants.

Officials are also grappling with a humanitarian crisis, with much of the frigid northeast still a scene of despair and devastation as Japan struggles to feed and house hundreds of thousands of homeless survivors, clear away debris and bury the dead. READ MORE

 

Japan's Nuclear Crisis Is Far From Over

By Osha Gray Davidson, The Phoenix Sun

23 March 11

Headlines about Japan's stricken nuclear power plant are becoming rare. But that says more about fickle nature of the media than it does about the tremulous state of affairs at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant (FDI).

Despite progress in restoring electricity to some areas of FDI, a member of the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority commented yesterday, "We still judge the situation to be critical." READ MORE

 

Fukushima Workers in Hospital After Radiation Exposure

By BBC News

23 March 11

Two workers at Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been taken to hospital after being exposed to high levels of radiation. The pair had been attempting to restore the cooling system in reactor 3, which was damaged by the quake on 11 March.

Several workers have now been hurt on the site, an indication of the scale of the task facing them.

Radiation levels in Tokyo's water supply have now fallen, but remain high in other areas of northern Japan.

The official death toll from the magnitude 9.0 quake and subsequent tsunami has now risen to 9,523. Another 16,094 people are listed as missing.

Japan's nuclear safety agency said three workers had been injured when their feet came into contact with radiation-contaminated water while laying cables in the turbine area of reactor 3. READ MORE

 

Defect Concealed in Fukushima No. 4 Reactor: Engineer

By Bloomberg News

23 March 11

The No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have been relying on flawed steel to hold the radiation in its core, according to an engineer who helped build its containment vessel four decades ago.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $20 billion steel vessel installed at the reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi in 1974. The reactor, which Tanaka has called a "time bomb," was shut for maintenance when the March 11 earthquake triggered a tsunami that disabled cooling systems at the plant, leading to explosions and radiation leaks READ MORE

 

Tap Water Crisis Spreads to Chiba, Saitama

By Masami Ito and Natsuko Fukue, The Japan Times Online

23 March 11

The scope of radiation-contaminated tap water expanded Thursday, with radioactive iodine detected in tap water in Chiba and Saitama prefectures, while the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which said the day before its drinking water was contaminated, scurried to distribute 240,000 bottles of water to households with babies. READ MORE

 

Fukushima Plant Crisis Still a Serious Concern

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Yoko Kubota, Reuters

23 March 11

The UN atomic agency said there had been some positive developments at the Fukushima nuclear plant 250 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo but the overall situation remained serious. Some countries have started blocking imports of produce from Japan, fearful of radiation contamination. ...

The plant, battered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that has left 23,000 people dead or missing, has still not been brought under control, and workers were forced away from the complex when black smoke began rising from one of its six reactors.

"There are some positive developments related to the availability of electrical power...although the overall situation remains of serious concern," Graham Andrew, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a news conference. READ MORE

 

Japan's Food Contamination Fears Rise

 

Spent Fuel Hampers Efforts at Fukushima Plant

By Hiroko Tabuchi, David Jolly and Kevin Drew, The New York Times

22 March 11

Workers at Japan's ravaged nuclear power plant on Tuesday renewed a bid to bring its command centers back online and restore electricity to vital cooling systems but an overheating spent fuel pool hampered efforts and raised the threat of further radiation leaks.

The storage pool at Fukushima Daiichi Power Station's No. 2 Reactor, which holds spent nuclear fuel rods, was spewing steam late Tuesday, forcing workers to divert their attention to dousing the reactor building with water. If unchecked the water in the pool could boil away, exposing the fuel rods and releasing large amounts of radiation into the air.

"We cannot leave this alone and we must take care of it as quickly as possible," Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told reporters. READ MORE

 

The Daily Trials of Japanese Disaster Survivors:
Photo Gallery

By Guardian UK

22 March 11

Japanese survivors continue to struggle in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami. READ MORE

 

Japan's Food Contamination Fears Spread

By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times

22 March 11

Concern over food contaminated by radiation from areas surrounding the troubled nuclear plant in Fukushima spread beyond Japan's borders Monday morning with world health officials warning of the potential dangers posed by the tainted food and one Japanese restaurant in Taiwan serving up radiation gauges alongside its meals.

World Health Organization officials told reporters Monday that Japan should act quickly to ban food sales from areas around the damaged nuclear plant, saying radiation in food is more dangerous than radioactive particles in the air because of accumulation in the human body.

"Walking outside for a day and eating food repeatedly are two different things. This is why they're going to have to take some decisions quickly in Japan to shut down and stop food being used completely from zones which they feel might be affected," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said, according to the Associated Press. READ MORE

 

Smoke Rising From Fukushima Plant
Raises Alarm

 

Power Cables Laid at Japan's Fukushima
Daiichi Plant

By BBC News

22 March 11

Power cables have been restored at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was seriously damaged in the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. However, officials say further testing is needed before the electricity can be switched on. For now, seawater is being sprayed onto reactor No 3 to cool it.

Work was interrupted earlier for the second time in 24 hours after steam and smoke was emitted from two reactors. Radiation levels spiked briefly, and engineers were told to leave the plant.

The work to restore power to the reactors restarted shortly after dawn. By evening, cables had been linked to all six reactors for the first time. But the power supply will not be turned on until the equipment at the site has been checked first; only then will an attempt be made to restart the cooling systems and monitoring equipment. READ MORE

 

Japan's Nuke Plant Operator Missed Inspections

By Associated Press

21 March 11

Japan's nuclear safety agency criticized the operator of the country's troubled nuclear complex for repeatedly failing to make inspections of critical equipment in the weeks before it was crippled in this month's massive quake and tsunami.

In a report released March 2, nine days before the disasters, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency cited Tokyo Electric Power Co. for ignoring inspection schedules and failing to examine 33 pieces of equipment at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Among the machinery the utility missed were parts crucial to the cooling systems needed to keep Fukushima's six nuclear reactors and their fuel storage pools from overheating: emergency diesel generators in Unit 3, pumps for reactors in Units 1 and 2 and generator equipment for Unit 4. READ MORE

 

Toll of Dead or Missing Surpasses 21,000

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Chikako Mogi, Reuters

21 March 11

Japan hoped power lines restored to its stricken nuclear plant may help solve the world's worst atomic crisis in 25 years, triggered by an earthquake and tsunami that also left more than 21,000 people dead or missing.

The Asian nation's people are in shock at both the ongoing battle to avert deadly radiation at the six-reactor Fukushima plant and a still-rising death toll from the March 11 disaster.

The world's third largest economy has suffered an estimated $250 billion of damage with entire towns in the northeast obliterated in Japan's darkest moment since World War Two. READ MORE

 

Why the Jokes About Japan's Tragedy

By Phil Rockstroh, Consortium News

On a cultural level, a great many people in the US evince a similar, media-wrought shallowness of apprehension, and therefore are prone to a contemptible callowness, when faced with tragedy and human suffering.

This trait, coupled with a toxic ignorance about the larger world, is an ugly thing to behold, and does not bode well for our collective destiny as a people.

Even before the floodwaters of the tsunami that inundated eastern Japan had receded - and as a nuclear crisis loomed engendered by the core breach of multiple nuclear reactors - Godzilla jokes began trending in the United States on Twitter. READ MORE

 

AUDIO: Japan Relief Efforts Centered at US Military Bases

By Jason Beaubien, NPR

20 March 11

As Japan struggles to deal with its crippled nuclear reactors and clean-up from the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the U.S. military has deployed thousands of troops in the region to help. The U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines all have a major presence in the country. American military bases throughout Japan are being used as staging areas for disaster response teams.

Meanwhile, the Defense Department has authorized the voluntary departure of any U.S. military dependents from the main island of Japan.. READ MORE

 

Tsunami Survivors Found

By Jonathan Watts, Guardian UK

20 March 11

Nine days after they were believed killed by the tsunami, an elderly woman and her teenage grandson were found alive in the rubble of their home in north-east Japan on Sunday.

The 80-year-old and the boy survived by eating yoghurt and other scraps of food salvaged from a refrigerator after being trapped in Ishinomaki, one of the worst-hit coastal cities.

They were found by police when 16-year-old Jin Abe called for help from the roof of their residence. He had been trapped for a week and finally managed to pull himself through a hole in the debris and alert rescue workers. READ MORE

 

Fukushima Workers Exposed to High Radiation Levels

By Justin McCurryand Tania Branigan, Guardian UK

20 March 11

Six workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have been exposed to radiation levels beyond the usual legal limit while carrying out emergency operations to make the complex safe.

The news came amid reports that radiation from the stricken plant had found its way into the food supply, raising anxiety in a country already struggling to deal with the aftermath of the worst crisis in its postwar history.

The facility's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said it would have to vent radioactive gas from reactor 3, but later called off the risky procedure after pressure inside stabilised, albeit at a relatively high level. READ MORE

 

Nuclear Nightmare

By Ralph Nader, Reader Supported News

19 March 11

The unfolding multiple nuclear reactor catastrophe in Japan is prompting overdue attention to the 104 nuclear plants in the United States - many of them aging, many of them near earthquake faults, some on the west coast exposed to potential tsunamis.

Nuclear power plants boil water to produce steam to turn turbines that generate electricity. Nuclear power's overly complex fuel cycle begins with uranium mines and ends with deadly radioactive wastes for which there still are no permanent storage facilities to contain them for tens of thousands of years.

Atomic power plants generate 20 percent of the nation's electricity. Over forty years ago, the industry's promoter and regulator, the Atomic Energy Commission estimated that a full nuclear meltdown could contaminate an area "the size of Pennsylvania" and cause massive casualties. You, the taxpayers, have heavily subsidized nuclear power research, development, and promotion from day one with tens of billions of dollars. READ MORE

 

TEPCO, Security Sacrificed on the Altar of Profit

By Rosa Moussaoui, l'Humanité in English

19 March 11

Since 2003, the big Japanese private group aimed at "reduction of costs of maintenance" in order to render profits "secure."

Profit at any price. This could be the motto of Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), the multinational that exploits the nuclear power plants at Fukushima. The largest producer of electricity in the world illustrates the excesses of an industrial sector in which neo-liberalism has unfurled to the last extremities of its destructive logic. READ MORE

 

Experts: Too Early to Bury Reactors

By Associated Press

19 March 11

Why not just bury them?

The idea of smothering and sealing the overheated nuclear reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 facility in sand or concrete to stop the crisis is appealing. But experts say it is too early for something that desperate and it could be a big mistake that could worsen matters.

Most urge continuing the current efforts to cool the radioactive material, and at least one suggested massive spraying to hold down radioactive dust. READ MORE

 

Radiation Reaching US, More Transparency Called For

By William J. Broad, The New York Times

19 March 11

Faint traces of very low levels of radiation from the stricken nuclear complex in Japan have been detected in Sacramento, European officials reported Friday, bringing the distant atomic crisis to American shores for the first time.

The readings, picked up by highly sensitive detectors set up to monitor clandestine nuclear blasts, were the first solid evidence of the leading edge of a long radioactive plume that has drifted slowly across the Pacific with the prevailing winds over the past week and has now reached the continental United States.

Health experts said the plume's radiation had been diluted enormously in its journey across thousands of miles and - at least for now, with concentrations very low - would have no health consequences in the United States. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels detectable but minuscule. READ MORE

 

6.1 Quake Hits South of Fukushima Plant

By Agence France-Presse

19 March 11

A strong 6.1 magnitude earthquake has rattled Japan's Ibaraki prefecture south of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the country's meteorological agency said, but no tsunami warning was issued.

The quake shook buildings in Tokyo, but no damage was immediately reported, public broadcaster NHK said, adding that flights at the capital’s Narita Airport were temporarily suspended for safety checks.

Meanwhile, the number of people confirmed as dead or listed as missing by Japan's national police agency has topped 18,000, eight days after the massive earthquake and tsunami struck. READ MORE

 

Full Core Meltdown in Japan?

By Stephen Lendman, Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel

19 March 11

Possibly it's ongoing and concealed. All along, Japanese and Tokyo Electric (TEPCO) officials downplayed or lied about the severity of the crisis. Virtually nothing they say can be believed.

Nor from the Obama administration, budgeting loan guarantees for new reactor construction instead of decommissioning all 104 nuclear plants because operating them risks full core meltdowns. READ MORE

 

Japan Reports Rising Radiation Levels in Water, Spinach and Milk

By Guardian UK and Agencies

19 March 11

The Japanese government has reported that trace amounts of radioactive iodine have been detected in tap water in Tokyo and five other areas, amid concerns about leaks from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power station.

The ministry says the amounts did not exceed government safety limits, but the announcement has added to safety fears among the Japanese people. Earlier in the day, Japan banned the sale of food products from near Fukushima after finding elevated radiation levels in spinach and milk from the area's farms.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said: "Though radioactive iodine has a short half-life of about eight days and decays naturally within a matter of weeks, there is a short-term risk to human health if radioactive iodine in food is absorbed into the human body." READ MORE

 

Japan Raises Nuclear Warning Level Retroactively

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Keith Bradsher, The New York Times

18 March 11

Japanese engineers battled on Friday to cool spent fuel rods and restore electric power to pumps at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station as new challenges seemed to accumulate by the hour, with steam billowing from one reactor and damage at another apparently making it difficult to lower temperatures.

As the crisis seemed to deepen, the safety agency said that the severity of the problem was worse than it had previously stated, raising its assessment of the severity on an international scale used as a measure of nuclear accidents.

It elevated the accident from level 4, one with local consequences, to level 5, one with wider consequences, on a 7-level scale established by the International Atomic Energy Agency. It also said the assessment was retroactive to Tuesday. READ MORE

 

A Warning From Japan

By Christian Parenti, The Nation

18 March 11

At press time, the nuclear crisis in Japan is out of control: three reactors are in partial meltdown, two are leaking radiation, at least one pool full of eighty tons of "spent" uranium fuel rods may be burning, two other such pools are getting very hot. Three major explosions have destroyed much of the Fukushima plant's basic infrastructure, like cranes, monitors and mechanical controls.

Japanese officials have prevaricated, fumbled and have now largely retreated; the distressed plant is just too hot. Their understanding of the crisis is fragmentary. What they tell the public is even more limited. In total desperation they bombed the site with water dropped from helicopters but aborted that plan when radiation exposure proved too dangerous. Radioactive fallout is already sickening people. And this is just the beginning.

Fukushima is a grave warning. The message is clear: systems fail; the unthinkable happens. Yet even in the face of this catastrophe a gang of pro-nuke zealots, like Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Republican Congressman Devin Nunes of California, are saying the crisis will actually be good for the much-hyped but elusive "nuclear renaissance." Nunes wants the United States to build 200 new nuclear plants! READ MORE

 

California's Fukushima In Waiting?

By Tim Dickinson, Rolling Stone

18 March 11

A cascading nuclear disaster is underway in Japan. Could it happen here? You bet.

Consider Diablo Canyon, California's most earthquake-prone nuclear power plant. It was built — on the central coast near San Luis Obispo, half way between San Francisco and LA — to withstand a magnitude 7.5 earthquake. Which sounds reassuring — until you realize that Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, now in partial meltdown, was engineered to stand up to a 7.9, only to be hit by a 8.9 quake.

(Don't be misled by the logarithmic Richter scale; those numbers are worlds apart: A 7.5 quake is the equivalent to the force of detonating 180,000 kilotons of TNT; a magnitude 8.9 quake: 22 million kilotons — 122 times greater.) READ MORE

 

Japan Weighs Need to Bury Nuclear Plant

By Shinichi Saoshiro and Mayumi Negishi, Reuters

18 March 11

Japanese engineers conceded on Friday that burying a crippled nuclear plant in sand and concrete may be a last resort to prevent a catastrophic radiation release, the method used to seal huge leakages from Chernobyl in 1986.

But they still hoped to solve the crisis by fixing a power cable to two reactors by Saturday to restart water pumps needed to cool overheating nuclear fuel rods. Workers also sprayed water on the No.3 reactor, the most critical of the plant's six.

It was the first time the facility operator had acknowledged burying the sprawling complex was possible, a sign that piecemeal actions such as dumping water from military helicopters or scrambling to restart cooling pumps may not work. READ MORE

 

Japanese Fend for Themselves as Aid Trickles In

By Todd Pitman and Eric Talmadge, Associated Press

18 March 11

An American helicopter crewman shouted above the din of the rotor: "What do these people need? Do they need food? Do they need medicine?" The answer one week after a tsunami devastated Japan's northeast coast is: They need everything. Aid has started trickling in, but much of it appears ad hoc and many survivors remain isolated and cold and are fending for themselves.

Two American military helicopters touched down on a hilltop above this flattened town Friday with boxes of canned beans and powdered milk for a community center that has become a shelter for those who lost their homes.

But blustery snow, fuel shortages and widespread damage to airports, roads and rails have hampered delivery of badly needed assistance to more than 400,000 survivors trying to stay fed and warm, often without electricity and running water in hastily setup shelters in schools and other public buildings. READ MORE

 

Voluntary Evacuation of US Military Families in Japan Authorized

By KRTV - Montana/CBS News

17 March 11

US commanders at the Misawa air and naval base in Japan have authorized the voluntary departure of government and military family members from Japan.

US Air Force Colonel Michael Rothstein, commander of the 35th Fighter Wing, and US Navy Captain James Haugen, commanding officer of Naval Air Facility Misawa, addressed the Misawa community in an American Forces Network broadcast on March 17.

In the broadcast, Colonel Rothstein informed the base that the US Department of State and the Defense Department has authorized voluntary departure of government and military family members from Japan. Exact details of the voluntary departure process from Misawa are being ironed out at this time. READ MORE

 

Radiation Will Reach California on Friday

By Ralph Vartabedian, Los Angeles Times

17 March 11

Very low levels of radioactive isotopes from the damaged Japanese nuclear plant are expected to reach California as soon as Friday, but experts say the amount will be well within safe limits. A network of radiation monitors is keeping close watch.

Small amounts of radioactive isotopes from the crippled Japanese nuclear power plant are being blown toward North America high in the atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean and will reach California as soon as Friday, according to experts.

A network of sensors in the US and around the world is watching for the first signs of that fallout, though experts said they were confident that the amount of radiation would be well within safe limits. READ MORE

 

WikiLeaks: Japan Warned About Fukushima

By Keith Olbermann, FOK News Channel

17 March 11

We are now at this stage in the life of our country and our world: WikiLeaks revealed that the Japanese Government was warned three years ago that earthquake preparedness at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was dangerously insufficient.

Naturally, the leaders of the world are - or wish to start - prosecuting WikiLeaks, and not the Japanese Government. READ MORE

 

Analysis: Worst-Case Nuclear Cloud Seen
Limited to Japan

By By Alister Doyle, Reuters

16 March 11

In the worst case, any radioactive cloud from Japan's damaged nuclear plant is likely to be limited to the densely populated nation - unlike the wider fallout from the Chernobyl disaster, experts say.

The 1986 blast in then-Soviet Ukraine, when the reactor exploded, contaminated large parts of Europe in the world's worst nuclear disaster. At the Fukushima plant, the explosive potential within the six reactors is easing with time.

"In the worst case, a radioactive cloud would not go that far up in the atmosphere," said Jan Beranek, head of environmental group Greenpeace's International Nuclear Campaign. READ MORE

 

Japan Nuclear Emergency Workers to
Return to Plant

By Eric Talmadge and Shino Yuasa, Associated Press

16 March 11

Emergency workers forced to retreat from a tsunami-stricken Japanese nuclear power plant when radiation levels soared prepared to return Wednesday night after emissions dropped to safer levels.

The pullback cost precious time in the fight to prevent a nuclear meltdown, further escalating a crisis spawned by last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami that pulverized Japan's northeastern coast and likely killed more than 10,000 people.

It was unclear what happened in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's overheating reactors after late morning, when the workers stopped pumping in seawater trying to cool their fuel rods. Officials gave only sparse information about the reactors. READ MORE

 

Flawed Reactor Design Caused Scientists
to Quit in Protest

By Matthew Mosk, ABC News

15 March 11

Thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing - the Mark 1 - was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident.

Questions persisted for decades about the ability of the Mark 1 to handle the immense pressures that would result if the reactor lost cooling power, and today that design is being put to the ultimate test in Japan. Five of the six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, which has been wracked since Friday's earthquake with explosions and radiation leaks, are Mark 1s.

"The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads that could be experienced with a loss of coolant," Bridenbaugh told ABC News in an interview. "The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an uncontrolled release." READ MORE

 

Safety on the Cheap

By Robert Reich, Robert Reich's Blog

15 March 11

Can we please agree that in the real world corporations exist for one purpose, and one purpose only - to make as much money as possible, which means cutting costs as much as possible?

The New York Times reports that GE marketed the Mark 1 boiling water reactors, used in TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi plant, as cheaper to build than other reactors because they used a comparatively smaller and less expensive containment structure.

Yet American safety officials have long thought the smaller design more vulnerable to explosion and rupture in emergencies than competing designs. (By the way, the same design is used in 23 American nuclear reactors at 16 plants.) READ MORE

 

No Nukes Is Good Nukes

By Robert Scheer, Truthdig

15 March 11

When it comes to the safety of nuclear power plants, I am biased. And I’ll bet that if President Barack Obama had been with me on that trip to Chernobyl 24 years ago he wouldn’t be as sanguine about the future of nuclear power as he was Tuesday in an interview with a Pittsburgh television station: “Obviously, all energy sources have their downside. I mean, we saw that with the Gulf spill last summer.”

Sorry, Mr. President, but there is a dimension of fear properly associated with the word nuclear that is not matched by any oil spill.

Even 11 months after what has become known simply as “Chernobyl” I sensed a terror of the darkest unknown as I donned the requisite protective gear and checked Geiger counter readings before entering the surviving turbine room adjoining plant No. 4, where the explosion had occurred. READ MORE

 

From Hiroshima to Fukushima

By Jonathan Schell, The Nation

15 March 11

The horrible and heartbreaking events in Japan present a strange concatenation of disasters. First, the planet unleashed one of its primordial shocks, an earthquake, of a magnitude greater than any previously recorded in Japan. The earthquake, in turn, created the colossal tsunami, which, when it struck the country’s northeastern shores, pulverized everything in its path, forming a filthy wave made of mud, cars, buildings, houses, airplanes and other debris. In part because the earthquake had just lowered the level of the land by two feet, the wave rolled as far as six miles inland, killing thousands of people. In a stupefying demonstration of its power, as the New York Times has reported, the earthquake moved parts of Japan thirteen feet eastward, slightly shifted the earth’s axis and actually shortened each day that passes on earth, if only infinitesimally (by 1.8 milliseconds). READ MORE

 

Reactor Design in Japan Has Long Been Questioned

By Tom Zoeller, The New York Times

15 March 11

The warnings were stark and issued repeatedly as far back as 1972: If the cooling systems ever failed at a Mark 1 nuclear reactor, the primary containment vessel surrounding the reactor would probably burst as the fuel rods inside overheated. Dangerous radiation would spew into the environment.

Now, with one Mark 1 containment vessel damaged at the embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and other vessels there under severe strain, the weaknesses of the design - developed in the 1960s by General Electric - could be contributing to the unfolding catastrophe. When the ability to cool a reactor is compromised, the containment vessel is the last line of defense. Typically made of steel and concrete, it is designed to prevent - for a time - melting fuel rods from spewing radiation into the environment if cooling efforts completely fail.

In some reactors, known as pressurized water reactors, the system is sealed inside a thick, steel-and-cement tomb. Most nuclear reactors around the world are of this type. But the type of containment vessel and pressure suppression system used in the failing reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant - and in 23 American reactors at 16 plants - is physically less robust, and it has long been thought to be more susceptible to failure in an emergency than competing designs. READ MORE

 

New Reactor Fire as Japan Works to Contain Threat

By Eric Talmadge And Shino Yuasa, Associated Press

15 March 11

A fire broke out at a nuclear reactor again Wednesday, a day after the power plant emitted a burst of radiation that panicked an already edgy Japan and left the government struggling to contain a spiraling crisis caused by last week's earthquake and tsunami.

The outer housing of the containment vessel at the No. 4 unit at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex erupted in flames early Wednesday, said Hajimi Motujuku, a spokesman for the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. On Tuesday, a fire broke out in the same reactor's fuel storage pond - an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool - causing radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere. Tokyo Electric Power said the new blaze erupted because the initial fire had not been fully extinguished.

About three hours after the blaze erupted Wednesday, Japan's nuclear safety agency said fire and smoke could no longer be seen at Unit 4, but that it was unable to confirm that the blaze had been put out.READ MORE

 

Thank You, Mr. Science

By Keith Olbermann, FOK News Channel

15 March 11

After I wrote here on Saturday - not to minimize the tragedy nor the nightmare of Japan and particularly the psychologically destabilizing crises at the various atomic energy facilities there - but that this was the death knell of American Nuclear Power, I actually got two snarky, condescending tweets.

One chided me for being a 'typical liberal who tried to turn tragedy into politics.' The other dismissed our risk of something similar to the fact that 'flyover country was safe from earthquakes and tsunamis so cares about the coasts?'

Seriously. I'd quote them verbatim but neither was as non-scatological nor as concise as that. That's right, I'm trying to turn tragedy into politics by pointing out that the super-safe Japanese Nuclear Power complex that even President Obama applauded while trying to pitch the same Doomsday Machines to us two years ago, turned out to be not so safe after all, and there's no reason to assume our antiquated nukes are somehow even as impervious to disaster as Japan's obviously weren't. READ MORE

 

Radiation Leaks From Fukushima Now "Harmful"

 

Japan Quake: Rescuers Search Through Scenes of Devastation

 

Japan Faces Prospect of Nuclear Catastrophe as
Workers Leave Plant

By Hiroko Tabuchi, Keith Bradsher and Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times

14 March 11

Japan faced the likelihood of a catastrophic nuclear accident Tuesday morning, as an explosion at the most crippled of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station damaged its crucial steel containment structure, emergency workers were withdrawn from the plant, and much larger emissions of radioactive materials appeared imminent, according to official statements and industry executives informed about the developments.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan made a televised address to the nation at 11 a.m. Tokyo time to discuss the latest developments in the crisis.

The sharp deterioration came after government officials said the containment structure of the No. 2 reactor, the most seriously damaged of three reactors at the Daichi plant, had suffered damage during an explosion shortly after 6 a.m. on Tuesday. READ MORE

 

Second Explosion Heightens Japan Nuclear Fear

By Mark Magnier, Barbara Demick and Laura King, Los Angeles Times

14 March 11

A fresh explosion rocked a crippled nuclear complex as rescuers from around the world converged on Japan's devastated earthquake zone, searching for survivors and ministering to the sick and hungry. With the death toll from the largest quake in Japan's recorded history expected to ultimately reach the tens of thousands, more than a half - million people have been displaced by growing radiation fears and the massive swath of destruction.

Japanese officials ordered people near the Fukushima complex - around which an evacuation zone had already been carved out - to stay indoors after a hydrogen blast Monday in the containment building of one of its six reactors, similar to one that occurred Saturday in a separate reactor.

Cabinet secretary Yukio Edano, speaking in a live TV broadcast, said it was believed that the reactor remained intact and "we think that the possibility of a massive radiation emission is low." READ MORE

 

Japan's Asahi TV Tsunami Footage

 

Meltdowns Grow More Likely at the
Fukushima Reactors

By Robert Alvarez, Institute for Policy Studies

14 March 11

A hydrogen explosion yesterday at Unit 1 severely damaged the reactor building, blowing apart its roof.

Japan's government and nuclear industry, with assistance from the U.S. military, is in a desperate race to stave off multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns - as well as potential fires in pools of spent fuel.

As of Sunday afternoon, more than 170,000 people have been evacuated near the reactor sites as radioactive releases have increased. The number of military emergency responders has jumped from 51,000 to 100,000. Officials now report a partial meltdown at Fukushima's Unit 1. Japanese media outlets are reporting that there may be a second one underway at Unit 3. People living nearby have been exposed to unknown levels of radiation, with some requiring medical attention. READ MORE

 

Japanese Residents Showing Signs of
Radiation Exposure

By Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew L. Wald, The New York Times

13 March 11

Japanese officials struggled on Sunday to contain a quickly escalating nuclear crisis in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake and tsunami, saying they presumed that partial meltdowns had occurred at two crippled reactors, and that they were bracing for a second explosion, even as problems were reported at two more nuclear plants.

That brings the total number of troubled plants to four, including one that is about 75 miles north of Tokyo.

The emergency at the hardest hit plant, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, appeared to be the worst involving a nuclear plant since the Chernobyl disaster 25 years ago, and at least 22 residents near the plant showed signs of radiation exposure, according to local officials. The crisis at that plant, which is much further from Tokyo, continued late Sunday. READ MORE

 

Japan Death Toll Tops 10,000,
Multiple Nuclear Meltdowns Loom

By Eric Talmadge and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

13 March 11

Japan's nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 170,000 people evacuated the quake - and tsunami - savaged northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination.

Nuclear plant operators were frantically trying to keep temperatures down in a series of nuclear reactors - including one where officials feared a partial meltdown could be happening Sunday - to prevent the disaster from growing worse.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano also said Sunday that a hydrogen explosion could occur at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, the latest reactor to face a possible meltdown. That follows a blast the day before in the power plant's Unit 1, and operators attempted to prevent a meltdown there by injecting sea water into it. READ MORE

 

Japan's Quake Could Have Irradiated the
Entire US

By Harvey Wasserman, Common Dreams

11 March 11

Had the massive 8.9 Richter-scale earthquake that has just savaged Japan hit off the California coast, it could have ripped apart at least four coastal reactors and sent a lethal cloud of radiation across the entire United States.

The two huge reactors each at San Onofre and Diablo Canyon are not designed to withstand such powerful shocks. All four are extremely close to major faults.

All four reactors are located relatively low to the coast. They are vulnerable to tsunamis like those now expected to hit as many as fifty countries. READ MORE

 

Japan Battles to Contain Nuclear Crisis After Huge Quake

By Taiga Uranaka and Ki Joon Kwon, Reuters

11 March 11

Japanese engineers pumped sea water into a damaged nuclear reactor in a race to prevent a catastrophic meltdown on Tuesday and rescuers scrambled to help millions left without food, water or heating by a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

A rapid drop in water levels exposed fuel rods in one reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant on Monday, hours after an explosion sent smoke billowing over the complex, but the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said the crisis was unlikely to turn into another Chernobyl.

Rescue workers combed the tsunami - battered region north of Tokyo, where officials say at least 10,000 people were killed in the 8.9 - magnitude earthquake and tsunami that followed it. READ MORE

 

Comments   

We are concerned about a recent drift towards vitriol in the RSN Reader comments section. There is a fine line between moderation and censorship. No one likes a harsh or confrontational forum atmosphere. At the same time everyone wants to be able to express themselves freely. We'll start by encouraging good judgment. If that doesn't work we'll have to ramp up the moderation.

General guidelines: Avoid personal attacks on other forum members; Avoid remarks that are ethnically derogatory; Do not advocate violence, or any illegal activity.

Remember that making the world better begins with responsible action.

- The RSN Team

 
+2 # franselr 2011-03-21 13:25
Google nuclear atmospheric testing and you will find that over 500 nuclear bombs have exploded in the atmosphere between 1945 to 1980. The CDC and National Cancer Institute estimate 11,000 excess deaths due to thyroid cancer from iodine 131. Each nuclear explosion must be magnitudes greater than the radioactive release in Japan. Who can we believe on the risks?
 
 
+1 # Foxtrottango 2011-03-22 12:21
It's not every day that the world sees an intelligent and productive nation nuke itself.

Obviously, they didn't learn from those two atomic bombs dropped on them during WWII. Nuclear energy has a price, and that is, if not respected, it will destroy even the most intelligent human beings.

Make no bones about it, human being are too stupid to play games with mother nature. And it's not over yet!

The republicans are making sure the world is destroyed in order to save it! It's in their ideology.
 
 
+1 # david Allen 2011-03-22 21:48
There were reports on TV this morning (I received this second-hand) about three quakes in Japan, in the magnitude 6 or 7 area. That was some 14 hours ago, but I have heard no other reports or confirmations. Any comments?
 
 
+1 # david Allen 2011-03-22 22:04
Why the jokes about Japan??

I grew up during WW2, graduating from high school two years after the end of the war with Japan. During the war, our propagandists demonized the Japanese, looked down their noses at the Oriental people (quite like we look at black people today and our black President). We waged the first nuclear war in history against Japain, and during the war killed millions of Japanese civilians. Is it any wonder then, that we make nasty jokes about them? I might add, that where I live (Western Washington state) we have a large popuplation of not only Japanese, but Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Filipinos and hispanics from Mexico and Central America.
 
 
+1 # fredboy 2011-03-31 15:49
Our hearts are out to the Japanese people as the most lethal carcinogen on Earth spreads its fury there.

Let this be a reminder that we must shift world thinking to foresight, not just reactive contingency planning. And let honesty serve as the foundation of major decisions.

Walt Disney's "Genie" must forever be capped, as it is our cardinal enemy.
 
 
+1 # Barkingcarpet 2011-07-14 20:19
No news. Hmmm. Just like the gulf, 9/11, and all the other disasters, celebrity breasts, idiot politicians, and bullshit news fill the airwaves, and news of real consequence or issues of importance to future health or survival are quietly buried and forgotten. Shame, but nature cares little for our rules, laws, and hubris, and it's gonna kick our ignorant, greedy, partisan, human butts.
 
 
+1 # mitchell donian 2011-07-24 18:54
Both Prime Minister Kan and Softbank President Son show themselves to be brave and outstanding world and national patriots in taking their forthright stands regarding nuclear energy. I have spent three years in Japan and I understand the courage they display in their actions. They are truly modern day samurai. Thank you.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN