Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Japan warned over nuclear plants, WikiLeaks cables (and other Japan earthquake news)

Japan warned over nuclear plants, WikiLeaks cables show 15 Mar 2011 Japan was warned more than two years ago by the international nuclear watchdog that its nuclear power plants were not capable of withstanding powerful earthquakes, leaked diplomatic cables reveal. An official from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in December 2008 that safety rules were out of date and strong earthquakes would pose a "serious problem" for nuclear power stations.

Two of the 'Fukushima 50' missing in reactor as new fire breaks out 16 Mar 2011 They are known as the "Fukushima 50" and two of them are missing after an explosion and fire at one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant yesterday and a new fire there today. The latest fire, in No 4 reactor, is out but now Japan has temporarily suspended operations to save its stricken nuclear power plant from meltdown after a sudden spike in radiation made it too dangerous for the engineers to remain at the facility, the Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says.

Fukushima workers evacuate after radiation spikes --The workers were ordered to leave the facility after the level of radiation at the plant soared to 10 millisievert per hour - above the level considered harmful to human health 16 Mar 2011 Workers battling to prevent nuclear meltdown at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant were temporarily evacuated on Wednesday morning after radiation levels became too dangerous for them to remain... Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] said it was considering using helicopters to spray the crippled No. 4 reactor with water and boric acid - a fire retardant - in an attempt to prevent more radiation leaks. The 50 or so engineers, working around the clock in harsh conditions, spent the morning trying to put out a fire at one reactor and to cool others at risk of overheating and reaching criticality.

Staff Evacuated From Japanese Nuclear Plant 16 Mar 2011 Japan has withdrawn all of its workers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant - saying it is too dangerous after a surge in radiation. The decision comes after a second fire broke out in a reactor after a prior blaze had not been properly extinguished. On Tuesday all non-essential staff were evacuated from the complex but 50 other had remained behind to attempt to cool down the reactors by injecting water.

Last Defense at Troubled Reactors: 50 Japanese Workers [Truth be told, Scott Walker - and the GOP - would have their benefits cut.] 16 Mar 2011 A small crew of technicians, braving radiation and fire, became the only people remaining at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on Tuesday -- and perhaps Japan’s last chance of preventing a broader nuclear catastrophe... They are the faceless 50, the unnamed operators who stayed behind. They have volunteered, or been assigned, to pump seawater on dangerously exposed nuclear fuel, already thought to be partly melting and spewing radioactive material, to prevent full meltdowns that could throw thousands of tons of radioactive dust high into the air and imperil millions of their compatriots... The workers are being asked to make escalating -- and perhaps existential -- sacrifices that so far are being only implicitly acknowledged: Japan’s Health Ministry said Tuesday it was raising the legal limit on the amount of radiation to which each worker could be exposed, to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts, five times the maximum exposure permitted for American nuclear plant workers.

Russia says Japan may face meltdown at six reactors 15 Mar 2011 Russia's nuclear chief warned on Tuesday that all six reactors at a stricken Japanese nuclear plant could melt down unless the authorities scrambled to cool down the nuclear fuel rods. Japan is grappling with a nuclear disaster after the quake-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant exploded in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Soviet Ukraine. Sergei Kiriyenko, who holds sway over most of the former Soviet Union's nuclear facilities, told Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that under the worst case scenario all six reactors could melt down.

Tokyo Electric Says 2 Nuclear Reactor Cores May Be Damaged 16 Mar 2011 fire and aftershocks struck the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant today, as officials battling to prevent a nuclear meltdown said fuel rods at two reactors may have been damaged. Clouds of white smoke or steam started rising from reactor buildings at 10 a.m. and moving westward inland. Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said radiation levels at the plant rose at that time but have since fallen. About 70 percent of the uranium-plutonium fuel rods at the plant’s No. 1 reactor and a third of the No. 2 reactor’s fuel may have been impaired, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

Fukushima No. 3 reactor's container feared damaged: gov't spokesman 16 Mar 2011 Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Wednesday that the container of the No.3 reactor of the troubled Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant might have been damaged and leaked radioactive steam. According to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, hourly radiation near the plant was measured at 6.4 millisievert at 10:45 a.m. local time (0145 GMT). Earlier in the day Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said that a fire had broken out at the No.4 reactor building at the scene of a blaze Tuesday at the plant where high amounts of radiation have been detected.

Panicked residents start to flee Tokyo as radiation levels rise after THIRD blast at stricken nuclear power plant --Radiation leaking directly into the air from stricken Fukushima nuclear plant --Power station has now suffered three reactor explosions and one fire --One reactor core 'exposed to the atmosphere' through crack in containment wall --Radiation levels up to ten times higher than normal in Tokyo 15 Mar 2011 Scores of terrified residents began to flee Tokyo today as a nuclear power plant destroyed by the tsunami threatened to send a cloud of radioactive dust across Japan. The Fukushima Dai-ichi plant suffered a third reactor explosion last night, another reactor on the site caught fire - and officials today announced the wall of one reactor was cracked. Radiation levels have soared across the country as radioactive material spewed directly into the atmosphere while emergency crews fought to avoid a catastrophic meltdown. Levels of radiation were ten times higher than normal in the capital today, as experts warned that people in Japan could face an increased cancer risk even if the crisis does not deteriorate.

Japanese nuclear plant hit by fire and third explosion --Radiation around Fukushima Daiichi plant has reached levels damaging to health 15 Mar 2011 Japan is facing the world's biggest nuclear crisis for decades as engineers struggle to regain control of the Fukushima plant following another explosion and a fire that caused a spike in radiation to harmful levels. Amid growing fears that the situation is heading for catastrophe, 70 technicians are still battling to cool reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi facility but non-essential personnel have been ordered to leave and the Kyodo news agency reported that radiation levels have become too high for staff to remain in control rooms.

Japan safety agency: roof cracked at Fukushima No 4 reactor 15 Mar 2011 Two workers are missing after Tuesday's explosion at one of the reactors at a crippled Japanese nuclear plant, the country's nuclear safety agency said. The agency did not identify the missing workers, but said they were in the turbine area of the No.4 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant, which was damaged by last Friday's earthquake and tsunami. Agency official also told a news conference there was a crack in the roof of the reactor building.

Japan plans to bulldoze access route to damaged nuclear plant 16 Mar 2011 Japan's nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday that operators of nuclear power plant that was critically damaged by an earthquake and tsunami last week plan to bulldoze an emergency route to the facility to allow access for fire trucks. The Daiichi plant in Fukushima, northern Japan, was billowing smoke or steam on Wednesday after fire broke out at the crippled facility.

Military Rescuers Brace for Japan Radiation in U.S. Aid Flights 15 Mar 2011 Low levels of radiation exposure probably will become "a fact of life" for U.S. military forces flying relief and rescue missions to aid victims of Japan’s earthquake as they near areas affected by leaks from a damaged nuclear plant, according to a U.S. Navy spokesman. "Having crews return with detectable levels of radiation is going to be a fact of life with this mission for the foreseeable future," said Lieutenant Anthony Falvo, a spokesman for the Seventh Fleet in Japan... The Navy treated two Seventh Fleet air crew members with potassium iodide pills as a precaution this week after they became contaminated with radiation emitted from the damaged nuclear plant at Fukushima.

U.S. Navy Detects Radiation 200 Miles From Japan Nuclear Plant 15 Mar 2011 The U.S. Navy said Tuesday that very low levels of airborne radiation were detected at Yokosuka and Atsugi bases, about 200 miles to the north of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Fox News has confirmed that a small number of U.S. service members have been exposed to radiation Tuesday and are being treated with potassium iodide pills.

EU orders urgent checks at all nuclear stations 16 Mar 2011 Nuclear power stations in Europe are to be subjected to safety tests, it was announced last night, as Japanese engineers continued their desperate fight to prevent an atomic catastrophe after the devastating earthquake and tsunami. The European Commission ordered stress tests to be carried out on all EU plants as it reacted to dramatic developments in Japan, where it was revealed four explosions had rocked a nuclear power station that was leaking radiation.

Number two House Democrat opposes moratorium on new nuclear facilities 15 Mar 2011 The number two House Democrat, Steny Hoyer, whose Maryland district includes a nuclear power facility, told reporters Tuesday he doesn't support a moratorium on construction of any new nuclear facilities in the United States, a proposal some Democrats are pushing in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan. "I don't agree on a moratorium if a moratorium means that we simply stop in place," Hoyer told reporters Tuesday. "I've been and continue to be a proponent of nuclear power," Hoyer said.


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