Minggu, 10 April 2011

Radiation Contamination: China Halts Imports From Japan UPDATE: Japan Radiation Found in East St. Louis UPDATE: Radioactive Rain S. Korea Closes Schools UPDATE: Nuclear Nightmare VIDEO: Japan Nuclear Plant New Threats Could Persist Indefinitely Warn U.S. Government Engineers !!! UPDATE: Radiation Level in Japan Seawater Millions of Times Above Legal Limit UPDATE: Radiation Found In San Francisco, Rainwater Radiation 18,100 Percent Above Drinking Water Limit UPDATE: Japan Radiation Fallout Detected In Illinois UPDATE: Radiation Detected Throughout U.S. from Japan Nuclear Fallout UPDATED: Japan Fukushima Fallout Reaches U.S.A. UPDATE: Radiation levels highest since crisis began on March 11 2011

Link to: CURRENT RADIATION LEVELS MAP  http://www.radiationnetwork.com/

 

Radiation levels remain within norm in Russia’s Far East

http://www.panoramamundi.com/en/2011/04/10/radiation-levels-remain-within-norm-in-russias-far-east/

April 10, 2011



Radiation levels are within the norm in all districts of Russia’s Far East as of early Sunday morning, a spokesman for the regional emergencies ministry said.

“Specialists, who are monitoring all districts of the Far East Region round the clock, have not registered any rise in radiation level,” the spokesman said.

Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was seriously damaged by a powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. Fukushima’s operator has since been struggling to stop radioactive leaks from the plant’s crippled reactors.

The Japanese authorities announced on Friday that officials will begin measuring radiation levels in export goods in cargo ships at Japan’s major ports after China halted imports from the country.

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Trace amounts of radiation found in Metro East

Apr 8, 2011
Kristen Gosling

Madison County, Ill (KSDK) -- Trace amounts of radiation connected to the Japan disaster have been found in the Metro East, according to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency.



Last week, state officials took samples from Madison, Clinton and Bond counties. All of the samples collected in the Metro East area were then taken to a lab in Springfield, Illinois.



Small traces have been found in radiation in air samples in Springfield and grass clippings from the Chicago area, believed to be connected with the Japan incident. But officials described the amount as 'minute.'

READ MORE

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S. Korea shuts schools amid Japan radiation fears

'We are geographically closer to Japan than ... the US or Europe. People are bound to be more worried,' president says

msnbc.com news services

4/7/2011



Dozens of schools in South Korea closed Thursday amid concerns about radioactive fallout from Japan's nuclear disaster.
Classes were canceled or shortened at more than 150 schools as rain fell across the country.

Authorities said radiation levels in the rain posed no health threat.

However, school boards across the country — Japan's closest neighbor — advised principals to use their discretion in scrapping outdoor activities to address concerns among parents, an education official said.

"We've sent out an official communication today that schools should try to refrain from outdoor activities," the official added.

Many Koreans donned face masks and streets near schools in Seoul were more congested than usual as parents drove children to work rather than let them walk.  

"We are geographically closer to Japan than others like the United States or Europe," South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said. "People are bound to be more worried."

China's health ministry also said traces of radioactivity in spinach had been found in three provinces. Earlier this week, India banned Japanese food imports for three months.

Recent progress at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant — which was damaged by a March 11 tsunami — appears to have slowed the release of radiation into the ocean. This week, technicians there plugged a crack that had been gushing contaminated water into the Pacific. Radiation levels in waters off the coast have fallen dramatically since then.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said the chances of a repeat of the gas explosions that ripped through two reactors in the first days of the disaster were "extremely small."



'Not out of the woods yet' But as engineers battle multiple crises — some the result of efforts to try to cool reactors — officials admit it could take months to bring the reactors under control and years to clear up the toxic mess left behind at the plant 150 miles north of Tokyo. 

READ MORE

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The Nuclear Nightmare

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U.S. Sees Array of New Threats at Japan’s Nuclear Plant

United States government engineers sent to help with the crisis in Japan are warning that the troubled nuclear plant there is facing a wide array of fresh threats that could persist indefinitely, and that in some cases are expected to increase as a result of the very measures being taken to keep the plant stable, according to a confidential assessment prepared by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.



Among the new threats that were cited in the assessment, dated March 26, are the mounting stresses placed on the containment structures as they fill with radioactive cooling water, making them more vulnerable to rupture in one of the aftershocks rattling the site after the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. The document also cites the possibility of explosions inside the containment structures due to the release of hydrogen and oxygen from seawater pumped into the reactors, and offers new details on how semimolten fuel rods and salt buildup are impeding the flow of fresh water meant to cool the nuclear cores.

In recent days, workers have grappled with several side effects of the emergency measures taken to keep nuclear fuel at the plant from overheating, including leaks of radioactive water at the site and radiation burns to workers who step into the water. The assessment, as well as interviews with officials familiar with it, points to a new panoply of complex challenges that water creates for the safety of workers and the recovery and long-term stability of the reactors.

While the assessment does not speculate on the likelihood of new explosions or damage from an aftershock, either could lead to a breach of the containment structures in one or more of the crippled reactors, the last barriers that prevent a much more serious release of radiation from the nuclear core. If the fuel continues to heat and melt because of ineffective cooling, some nuclear experts say, that could also leave a radioactive mass that could stay molten for an extended period.

The document, which was obtained by The New York Times, provides a more detailed technical assessment than Japanese officials have provided of the conundrum facing the Japanese as they struggle to prevent more fuel melting at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But it appears to rely largely on data shared with American experts by the Japanese.

Among other problems, the document raises new questions about whether pouring water on nuclear fuel in the absence of functioning cooling systems can be sustained indefinitely. Experts have said the Japanese need to continue to keep the fuel cool for many months until the plant can be stabilized, but there is growing awareness that the risks of pumping water on the fuel present a whole new category of challenges that the nuclear industry is only beginning to comprehend.

The document also suggests that fragments or particles of nuclear fuel from spent fuel pools above the reactors were blown “up to one mile from the units,” and that pieces of highly radioactive material fell between two units and had to be “bulldozed over,” presumably to protect workers at the site. The ejection of nuclear material, which may have occurred during one of the earlier hydrogen explosions, may indicate more extensive damage to the extremely radioactive pools than previously disclosed.

David A. Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who worked on the kinds of General Electric reactors used in Japan and now directs the nuclear safety project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said that the welter of problems revealed in the document at three separate reactors made a successful outcome even more uncertain.

“I thought they were, not out of the woods, but at least at the edge of the woods,” said Mr. Lochbaum, who was not involved in preparing the document. “This paints a very different picture, and suggests that things are a lot worse. They could still have more damage in a big way if some of these things don’t work out for them.”

The steps recommended by the nuclear commission include injecting nitrogen, an inert gas, into the containment structures in an attempt to purge them of hydrogen and oxygen, which could combine to produce explosions. The document also recommends that engineers continue adding boron to cooling water to help prevent the cores from restarting the nuclear reaction, a process known as criticality.

Even so, the engineers who prepared the document do not believe that a resumption of criticality is an immediate likelihood, Neil Wilmshurst, vice president of the nuclear sector at the Electric Power Research Institute, said when contacted about the document. “I have seen no data to suggest that there is criticality ongoing,” said Mr. Wilmshurst, who was involved in the assessment.

The document was prepared for the commission’s Reactor Safety Team, which is assisting the Japanese government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the plant. It says it is based on the “most recent available data” from numerous Japanese and American organizations, including the electric power company, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, the United States Department of Energy, General Electric and the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry group.

The document contains detailed assessments of each of the plant’s six reactors along with recommendations for action. Nuclear experts familiar with the assessment said that it was regularly updated but that over all, the March 26 version closely reflected current thinking.

The assessment provides graphic new detail on the conditions of the damaged cores in reactors 1, 2 and 3. Because slumping fuel and salt from seawater that had been used as a coolant is probably blocking circulation pathways, the water flow in No. 1 “is severely restricted and likely blocked.” Inside the core itself, “there is likely no water level,” the assessment says, adding that as a result, “it is difficult to determine how much cooling is getting to the fuel.” Similar problems exist in No. 2 and No. 3, although the blockage is probably less severe, the assessment says. 

Some of the salt may have been washed away in the past week with the switch from seawater to fresh water cooling, nuclear experts said.

A rise in the water level of the containment structures has often been depicted as a possible way to immerse and cool the fuel. The assessment, however, warns that “when flooding containment, consider the implications of water weight on seismic capability of containment.”

Experts in nuclear plant design say that this warning refers to the enormous stress put on the containment structures by the rising water. The more water in the structures, the more easily a large aftershock could rupture one of them.

Margaret Harding, a former reactor designer for General Electric, warned of aftershocks and said, “If I were in the Japanese’s shoes, I’d be very reluctant to have tons and tons of water sitting in a containment whose structural integrity hasn’t been checked since the earthquake.”

The N.R.C. document also expressed concern about the potential for a “hazardous atmosphere” in the concrete-and-steel containment structures because of the release of hydrogen and oxygen from the seawater in a highly radioactive environment.

Hydrogen explosions in the first few days of the disaster heavily damaged several reactor buildings and in one case may have damaged a containment structure. That hydrogen was produced by a mechanism involving the metal cladding of the nuclear fuel. The document urged that Japanese operators restore the ability to purge the structures of these gases and fill them with stable nitrogen gas, a capability lost after the quake and tsunami.

Nuclear experts say that radiation from the core of a reactor can split water molecules in two, releasing hydrogen. Mr. Wilmshurst said that since the March 26 document, engineers had calculated that the amount of hydrogen produced would be small. But Jay A. LaVerne, a physicist at Notre Dame, said that at least near the fuel rods, some hydrogen would in fact be produced, and could react with oxygen. “If so,” Mr. LaVerne said in an interview, “you have an explosive mixture being formed near the fuel rods.”

Nuclear engineers have warned in recent days that the pools outside the containment buildings that hold spent fuel rods could pose an even greater danger than the melted reactor cores. The pools, which sit atop the reactor buildings and are meant to keep spent fuel submerged in water, have lost their cooling systems.

The N.R.C. report suggests that the fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor suffered a hydrogen explosion early in the Japanese crisis and could have shed much radioactive material into the environment, what it calls “a major source term release.”

Experts worry about the fuel pools because explosions have torn away their roofs and exposed their radioactive contents. By contrast, reactors have strong containment vessels that stand a better chance of bottling up radiation from a meltdown of the fuel in the reactor core.

“Even the best juggler in the world can get too many balls up in the air,” Mr. Lochbaum said of the multiplicity of problems at the plant. “They’ve got a lot of nasty things to negotiate in the future, and one missed step could make the situation much, much worse.”



READ MORE

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AP/Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Kyodo News
In this Saturday, April 2, 2011 photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) via Kyodo News, leaking radioactive contaminated water drain through crack of a maintenance pit, right, into the sea, near the Unit 2 reactor of Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
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Radiation Level in Japan Seawater Millions of Times Above Legal Limit

April 05, 2011



EPCO announced Tuesday that samples taken from seawater near one of the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant contained 7.5 million times the legal limit for radioactive iodine on April 2. Two days later, that figure dropped to 5 million.
The company said in a statement that even those large amounts would have "no immediate impact" on the environment but added that it was working to stop the leak as soon as possible.
The readings released Tuesday were taken closer to the plant than before -- apparently because new measuring points were added after the crack was discovered -- and did not necessarily reflect a worsening of the contamination. Other measurements several hundred yards away from the plant have declined to levels about 1,000 times the legal limit -- down from more than four times that last week.
Also Tuesday, the operator of the plant injected a hardening agent beneath a leaking concrete pit in hopes to stem the flow of radioactive water, according to Japan news agency NHK.
Playgrounds in the Fukushima area will be tested for radiation, the Daily Telegraph reports.
Radiation measuring equipment will be installed at nearly 1,400 schools as students return to classes, the local government told the U.K. paper.
The government set its first radiation safety standards for fish Tuesday after Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant reported radioactive contamination in nearby seawater measuring at several million times the legal limit.
The plant operator insisted that the radiation will rapidly disperse and that it poses no immediate danger, but an expert said exposure to the highly concentrated levels near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant could cause immediate injury and that the leaks could result in residual contamination of the sea in the area.
The new levels coupled with reports that radiation was building up in fish led the government to create an acceptable radiation standard for fish for the first time. Some fish caught Friday off Japan's coastal waters would have exceeded the new provisional limit.
"Even if the government says the fish is safe, people won't want to buy seafood from Fukushima," said Ichiro Yamagata, a fisherman who used to live within sight of the nuclear plant and has since fled to a shelter in Tokyo.
"We probably can't fish there for several years," he said.
Radiation has been leaking into Pacific near the plant on the northeastern Japanese coast since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake spawned a massive tsunami that inundated the complex. Over the weekend, workers there discovered a crack where highly contaminated water was spilling directly into the ocean.
The tsunami pulverized about 250 miles of the northeastern coast, flattening whole towns and cities and killing up to 25,000 people. Tens of thousands more lost their homes in the crush of water, and several thousand were forced from the area near the plant because of radiation concerns.
Many of those "radiation refugees" have grown frustrated with the mandatory 12-mile no-go zone, and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. -- whose stock value has plunged to the lowest level in its 60-year history -- said Tuesday it would give affected towns $240,000 each. That would be on top of any legally required compensation.
Experts agree that radiation dissipates quickly in the vast Pacific, but direct exposure to the most contaminated water measured would lead to "immediate injury," said Yoichi Enokida, a professor of materials science at Nagoya University's graduate school of engineering.
He added that seawater may be diluting the iodine, which decays quickly, but the leak also contains long-lasting cesium-137. Both can build up in fish, though iodine's short half-life means it does not stay there for very long. The long-term effects of cesium, however, will need to be studied, he said.
"It is extremely important to implement a plan to reduce the outflow of contaminated water as soon as possible," he said.
Although the Fukushima prefecture surrounding the plant is not a major fishing region, fishermen there are growing alarmed. No fishing is allowed in the direct vicinity of the plant, but they fret that demand will collapse for catches elsewhere in the region -- whether or not they are contaminated.
"Our prefecture's fisherman have lost their lives, fishing boats, piers and buildings" in the earthquake and tsunami and now must suffer the added effects of radioactive runoff from the plant, local fishermen's federation head Tetsu Nozaki said in a letter faxed to the company.
Some government assurances of safety have done little to quell panic. In Tokyo, for instance, there were runs on bottled water after officials said radiation in tap water there was above the level considered safe for infants, though insisted it was still OK for adults.
On Tuesday, officials decided to apply the maximum allowable radiation limit for vegetables to fish, according to Edano.
"We will conduct strict monitoring and move forward after we understand the complete situation," he said.
The move came after the health ministry reported that fish caught off Ibaraki prefecture -- which is about halfway between the plant and Tokyo -- contained levels of radioactive iodine that would have exceeded the new provisional limit. Cesium also was found, at just below the limit. The fish were caught Friday, before the new provisional safety limits were announced.
Such limits are usually very conservative. After spinach and milk tested at levels far exceeding the safety standard, health experts said you would have to eat enormous quantities of tainted produce or dairy before getting even the amount of radiation contained in a CT scan.
Radioactivity is pouring into the ocean, in part, because workers at the plant have been forced to use a makeshift method of bringing down temperatures and pressure by pumping water into the reactors and allowing it to gush out wherever it can. It is a messy process, but it is preventing a full meltdown of the fuel rods that would release even more radioactivity into the environment.
The government on Monday gave the go-ahead to pump more than 3 million gallons of less-contaminated water into the sea -- in addition to what is leaking -- to make room at a plant storage facility to contain more highly radioactive water.


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Japan Nuke Plant Operator to Dump Radioactive Water Into Ocean

 April 04, 2011


The operator of Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear plant said Monday it planned to dump thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific, as the government was accused of covering up the extent of radiation levels.
"We have no choice but to release water tainted with radioactive materials into the ocean as a safety measure," Yukio Edano, the government’s chief spokesman told a new conference.
The Jiji press agency reported that a TEPCO spokesman said the 11,500 tons of water were only weakly radioactive and that the release would take place "as soon as necessary preparations are made."
The broadcaster NHK reported Monday that the Japanese government withheld the release of data showing that radiation exceeded safe levels more than 18 miles from the plant, beyond the 12-mile evacuation zone.
Computer projections taken March 16 showed that people from as far away as 18 miles from the nuclear plant would be exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation if they were outdoors for 24 hours between March 12 and 24.
Workers used a milky white dye Monday to frantically try to track path of highly radioactive water flowing out into the ocean, but it is not clear how much water has leaked from the pit so far and where exactly it has gone.
A crack in a maintenance pit found over the weekend was the latest confirmation that radioactivity continues to spill into the environment. The leak is a symptom of the primary difficulty at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex: Radioactive water is pooling around the plant and preventing workers from powering up cooling systems needed to stabilize dangerously vulnerable fuel rods.
Engineers have turned to a host of improvised and sometimes bizarre methods to tame the nuclear plant after it was crippled in Japan's magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami on March 11. Efforts over the weekend to clog the leak with a special polymer, sawdust and even shredded newspapers failed to halt the flow at a cracked concrete maintenance pit near the shoreline.
Suspecting they might be targeting the wrong channel to the pit, workers tried to see if they could trace the leak's pathway by dumping into the system several pounds of salts used to give bathwater a milky hue, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday.
"There could be other possible passages that the water may be traveling. We must watch carefully and contain it as quickly as possible," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear Safety and Industrial Agency.
Radioactive water has pooled up throughout the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant because the operator has been forced to rely on makeshift ways of pumping water into plant — and allowing it to gush out wherever it can — to bring down temperatures and pressure in the reactor cores.
Government officials conceded Sunday that it will likely be several months before the cooling systems are completely restored. And even after that happens, there will be years of work ahead to clean up the area around the complex and figure out what to do with it.
The makeshift system makes it difficult to contain the radiation leaks, but it is aimed a preventing fuel rods from going into a full meltdown that would release even more radioactivity into the environment.
"We must keep putting water into the reactors to cool to prevent further fuel damage, even though we know that there is a side effect, which is the leakage," Nishiyama said. "We want to get rid of the stagnant water and decontaminate the place so that we can return to our primary task to restore the sustainable cooling capacity as quickly as possible."
The crisis has unfolded as Japan deals with the aftermath of twin natural disasters that decimated large swaths of its northeastern coast. Up to 25,000 people are believed to have died in the disaster, and tens of thousands lost their homes. Thousands more were forced to flee a 12-mile radius around the plant because of the radiation.
Over the weekend, an 8-inch-long crack was discovered in a maintenance pit, sending a stream of water into the sea. The area is normally blocked off by a seawall, but a crack was also discovered in that outer barrier Monday.
While radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, a government spokesman said Monday that the sheer volume of contamination is becoming a concern.
"Even if they say the contamination will be diluted in the ocean, the longer this continues, the more radioactive particles will be released and the greater the impact on the ocean," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. "We are strongly urging TEPCO that they have to take immediate action to deal with this."
The operator said Monday it is ordering fencing that is typically used to contain oil spills. The screens are not designed to trap radioactivity but might curtail the flow of water and thus reduce the spread of contamination, said TEPCO manager Teruaki Kobayashi. It was not clear when they would arrive.
Before restoring the cooling system, workers must rid the plant of the pools of radioactive water that have collected under each of the three troubled reactors' turbine buildings and have spilled into various trenches around the complex. TEPCO has proposed pumping it into tankers, barges and is now considering sending it to a storage facility on site.
Work on those problems continue to make progress, even as workers try to stop the latest leak, Nishiyama said.
"We have to apply stopgap measures to day-to-day problems, like the pit water leakage, but we are continuing on our effort to achieve the goal," he said.
Some of the reactors are made by General Electric, and the company's CEO met Sunday with TEPCO's chairman. Jeffrey Immelt told reporters Monday that more than 1,000 engineers from GE and its partner Hitachi are helping to analyze the problems at the plant.
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Radiation Found In San Francisco, CA Tap Water — Rainwater Radiation 18,100% Above Drinking Water Limit

  Posted by Alexander Higgins - April 1, 2011 

Japan Nuclear Radiation Wind Fallout Projection April 1, April 2


Despite countless reassurances that no harmful levels of radiation from the Japan nuclear fallout would hit the US from the EPA, the University of Berkley in California is now reporting that rainwater in San Francisco water has now been detected at levels 18,100%  above federal drinking water standards.

Again, with just about all other news of the radiation hitting the US, the news is once again reported to the public over a week after it was first detected.

For background information see:

















Breaking News From Energy News:

Radioactive Iodine-131 in rainwater sample near San Francisco was 18,100% above federal drinking water standard

March 31st, 2011 at 06:33 PM
UCB Rain Water Sampling Results, University of California, Berkeley, Department of Nuclear Engineering:

Iodine-131 was measured in a rainwater sample taken on the roof of Etcheverry Hall on UC Berkeley campus, March 23, 2011 from 9:06-18:00 PDT. The 3 Liters of rainwater collected contained 134 Becquerels of Iodine for an average of 20.1 Becquerel per liter, which equates to 543 Picocuries per liter .

The federal drinking water limit for Iodine-131 is 3 Picocuries per liter, putting the rainwater sample at 18,100% above the federal drinking water limit.

20.1 Becquerel per liter (Bq/L) = 543 Picocuries per liter (pCi/L)

Conversion calculator here.

The federal drinking water standard for Iodine-131 is 3 pCi/L. (Source)

UCB Rain Water Sampling Results here.

Radiation in San Francisco 18,100 Times Above Drinking Water Limits

Radiation in San Francisco 18,100 Times Above Drinking Water Limits
See also: Comparisons with X-rays and CT scans “meaningless” — Inhaling particles increases radiation exposure by “a factor of a trillion” says expert

Read more:


Nuclear Radiation Found In Drinking Water and Milk

The University of Berkeley also detected radiation in milk bought off local store shelves and in the drinking water taken from a tap water sample.

The tap water sample contained 0.024 ± 0.014 Becquerels per liter which is must lower than the latest rainwater samples. Milk samples also contained radiation which again is  lower than the rainwater samples. 



READ MORE





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Radioactive Material Found in Illinois

stlouis.cbslocal.com



SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (IRN) - Radiation believed to be from the nuclear plant disaster in Japan has been detected in Illinois.

The radioactive iodine similar to what was released in Japan was found in a grass clipping in the Joliet area by the Radiological Assessment Field Team, which regularly checks on vegetation, air, milk and eggs to determine if any radiation is leaking from Illinois’ nuclear reactors.

In this case, the grass clippings were taken as part of a drill for the emergency plan at the Dresden nuclear power plant.

Once that grass sample tested positive for radioactive iodine, an air sample in Springfield was taken, which also detected the radioactive material.

Patti Thompson of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency says the levels are low: The amount of radiation would have to be 200,000 greater than what was detected to meet the regulatory limit for emission from a nuclear power plant.

Nevertheless, the state will now conduct more tests in other parts of the state.





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Analysis Of New Photos Of Fukushima Reactors

More Hi-res photos here



Submitted by Chris Martenson

Zero Hedge

April 2, 2011



Exclusive: new photos of Fukushima reactors

Noting that the press has largely turned its resources off of the Fukushima complex, and needing up-to-date information on the status of the damage control efforts there, we secured the most up-to-date satellite photo from DigitalGlobe (dated March 31st), which we analyze below. This is the first photo of the damaged reactor site at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility made available to the public in over a week. That means you, our readers, are the first public eyes anywhere to see this photo.

Drawing upon the expertise of our resident nuclear engineer and Ann Stringer, imaging expert, we conclude that the situation at Fukushima is not stabilized: things are not yet at a place of steady progress in the containment and clean-up efforts. It’s still a dance, forwards and backwards, with the workers making gains here and there and the situation forcing them to react defensively.

In this report, we will tell you what we know for sure, what we are nearly certain of, and what we remain forced to speculate about.

Here is a portion of a much larger image (covering 25 square kilometers in total) showing the reactor complex as of March 31, at roughly mid-day:

Photo Credit, 2011, DigitalGlobe

What We Can See

Here’s what we can directly observe in the larger satellite image:

  • Steam is still rising from reactors #2, #3 (circled in green) and #4.

  • Of the four reactor buildings, three are nearly or totally destroyed, while the outside (at least) of the fourth is in relatively better shape.

  • We can count 7 fire trucks ‘on site’ with another 7 just to the north, all with water lines strung out across the ground.

  • There is only one ship/vessel to be seen, located inside of the breakwater and nearly as far to the north as it can go inside that boundary.

  • A significant number of the vehicles that can be seen at the core of the site have not moved since the first released photos on March 12.

  • There is a parking lot slightly to the north and west with approximately 250 passenger vehicles in it and a side lot with 30 large green tanks neatly arranged in rows.

  • The rest of the area is one, two, and four lane roads (no traffic at all), worked farmland, residential and commercial areas, mostly empty parking lots, and two baseball diamonds.









Here’s what we don’t see

  • Nowhere in the 25 km area in the main photo can we find anything that looks like a staging area with a large collection of assets such as tanker trucks, pumpers, cement trucks, piles of pre-staged materials, ambulances, and fire trucks.

  • The cement pumper truck seen a week ago has been apparently replaced by the boom at reactor #4.

  • There’s no obvious barge delivering fresh water for the rector cooling efforts as recently reported (it may have come and gone?).

  • Any obvious changes to the roofs of any of the reactors.

  • Any people outside the plants working.



Things we can logically conclude

The steam that is venting is a mixed blessing. It implies that cooling water is getting to some hot material, which is a good thing, but it also means that something is hot enough to vaporize water and the continued release of radioactivity into the surrounding environment.

This means that the lack of steam coming from reactor #1 is either a very good sign, or a very bad sign. Good because it could mean that the containment vessels are intact and cooling water is circulating. Bad because it could imply that no water is getting to it and it is a very hot mass right now. According to TEPCO, reactor #1 has had seawater, and now freshwater, circulating through the reactor vessel – and since both containment vessels are intact, we’ll conclude the lack of steam is a good sign.

The situation at Fukushima is going to drag on for years. First there’s the matter of stabilizing the situation which has not yet been fully achieved. Recent surprises in terms of the amounts and locations of radioactivity are one sign that the situation is not fully stabilized. Still, nothing has blown up in quite a while, the steam venting appears consistent, and the major surprises seem to be over for now. While the TEPCO workers are still reacting to things as they arise, these are smaller things than last week, which is another hopeful sign.

The detected presence of neutron beams, I-134, and radioactive chlorine are all strongly supportive of the idea that criticality has resumed. Our best guess is that these are localized pockets, probably of short duration, and do not involve the entire core mass of any particular reactor conflagrating in some gigantic, greenish blob of uncontrolled fission. The geometries of the fuel in relation to neutron moderators requires precise conditions to support sustained fission and so it is rather unlikely to be occurring in anything other than localized pockets. If the entire reactor in its fully operational state was capable of supporting what we might scale to 100% fission, the amount of fission happening after a partial (or complete) meltdown will be a far lesser percentage. Still, any amount of fission is unwelcome at this point because it is adding to the heat and radiation removal difficulties.

The constantly rising levels of radioactivity found in the seawater are a further unwelcome development, but without a proper isotope analysis we cannot conclude anything about the potential resumption of fission from their gross amounts alone. It’s always possible that the leftover fission products are now being washed in larger amounts into the sea for some reason.

Additional Drone Photos

These are the most detailed photos yet to emerge into the public space (released yesterday, March 31, as far as I know), and they are purported to come from a drone flyover on March 20 and 24th.  They are really quite good, and worth viewing in their entirety here.

Beginning with reactor 3, one thing we can say is, this thing is a right proper mess:



(Source for all that follow)

There’s a significant hole to the left of center that goes deep into the sub-structure (with a strange greenish cast that we’ve not been able to resolve after much conjecture) and it’s clear that this building alone will take a long time to resolve.

Interestingly, we get our clearest image yet of the hole in turbine building #3 that was created by something ejected into the air during the reactor #3 explosion.



Looking like one of those cartoon cutouts that happens when the coyote hits the ground, we get the impression that whatever it was happened to be quite heavy and possibly shaped like an Apollo capsule. It has been my suspicion, which contradicts the official story, that the concrete containment vessel was what actually blew up in reactor #3 and I have been looking for evidence of in the form of large, heavy chunks of concrete (especially the refueling plug) lying about. I don’t know what made this hole in the roof of the turbine building, but it was heavy.

Reactor #4 provides us with proof that serious damage can result from the effects of an overheated spent fuel storage pool:



Here the watering boom can be clearly seen. A camera was recently attached to the boom and it took some interior shots which were suggestive of the idea that the spent fuel pool is damaged and largely drained of water. Spraying water into this pool, then, is probably a balancing act with the desire to spray enough water on the rods to keep them cool being offset by the risk of having radioactive water drain away for parts unknown.

Almost certainly this same balancing act defines the efforts for reactors #2 and #3 as well.

Conclusions

The efforts at Fukushima are probably weeks away from even basic stabilization and we are years away from any sort of a final resolution. This crisis is going to be with all of us for a very long time. Radiation will continue to escape from the complex into the environment for weeks at best, months or years at worst.

The chief concern here is that things might still take a turn for the worse whereby radiation spikes to levels that prevent humans from getting close enough to perform meaningful operations and work on the site. If the radiation spikes high enough it will force an evacuation from the vicinity complicating every part of what has to happen next from monitoring to remediation.

The general lack of staged materials anywhere in the vicinity indicates that authorities have not yet decided on a plan of action, feeding our assessment that they are still in ‘react mode’ and that we are weeks away from nominal stabilization.

On Thursday we learned from the Wall Street Journal that TEPCO only had one stretcher, a satellite phone, 50 protective suits, and only enough dosimeters to give a single one to each worker group. Given this woeful level of preparation it is not surprising to see that regular fire trucks, cement trucks, and a lack of staged materials comprise much of the current damage control mix.

We don’t yet know enough to conclude how much fission has spontaneously re-occurred, but we have strong suspicions that the number is higher than zero. Here we make our call for the release of more complete and timely radiation readouts and sampling results by TEPCO and Japan so that we can assess what the true risks are. The situation remains fluid and quite a lot depends now on chance and which way the wind blows.

And as I detailed in the Alert report I issued soonafter the tragic events of the Japan earthquake and tsunami on March 10th, the impact of Japan’s tribulations on the global economy will be large and vast. World markets are simply unpreapared for the third-largest economy to suddenly and violently downshift. The persisting crisis at Fukushima simply worsens the picture.

As always, we’ll continue montioring developments closely and reporting our findings and conclusions on this site.

best,

Chris



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Fukushima Fallout Reaches U.S.A.

Mike Whitney

Infowars.com

April 1, 2011



Three of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have partially melted down and highly toxic plutonium is seeping into the soil outside. Plutonium is less volatile than other radioactive elements like iodine or cesium, but it’s also more deadly. According to Businessweek, “When plutonium decays, it emits what is known as an alpha particle, a relatively big particle that carries a lot of energy. When an alpha particle hits body tissue, it can damage the DNA of a cell and lead to a cancer-causing mutation.” If plutonium leaches into groundwater or pristine aquifers, the threat to public health and the environment will be extreme. This is an excerpt from an article in the Guardian:



“The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site. The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant….



Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have “lost the race” to save the reactor…” (“Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor”, The Guardian)

It also appears that underground tunnels at the facility have been flooded with radioactive water that contains high-concentrations of caesium-137. A considerable amount of the water has made its way to the sea where samples show the levels of contamination steadily rising. This is from the Wall Street Journal:

“Levels of radiation in the ocean next to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have surged to record highs, the government said Wednesday, as operators try to deal with large amounts of radioactive water—the unwanted byproduct of operations to cool the reactors.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said water taken Tuesday afternoon from the monitoring location for the troubled reactors Nos. 1 to 4 had 3,355 times the permitted concentration of iodine-131. That is the highest yet recorded at the sampling location, which is 330 meters south of the reactors’ discharge outlet.” (“Seawater Radiation Level Soars Near Plant”, Wall Street Journal) All fishing has been banned in the vicinity as the toxins pose a danger to human health.

The Japanese government’s chief spokesman, Yukio Edano, issued a public statement admitting that the situation at Fukushima is progressively getting worse with no end in sight. “We are not yet in a situation where we can say when we will have this under control,” said Edano. In other words, the emergency effort is failing.

The fact that Japan is experiencing the biggest environmental catastrophe in history explains why the media has been trying so hard to divert the public’s attention to Obama’s military adventure in Libya. But it hasn’t worked; all eyes are locked on Fukushima where the crisis continues to get more precarious by the day. News anchors assure their viewers that they are only being exposed to “safe levels of radioactivity”, but people aren’t buying it. They’ve seen the comparisons to Chernobyl and made their own judgements. Here’s an excerpt from an article in Counterpunch by Chris Busby that gives a thumbnail sketch of the human costs of the meltdown at Chernobyl:

“The health effects of the Chernobyl accident are massive and demonstrable. They have been studied by many research groups in Russia, Belarus and the Ukraine, in the USA, Greece, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and Japan. The scientific peer reviewed literature is enormous. Hundreds of papers report the effects, increases in cancer and a range of other diseases. My colleague Alexey Yablokov of the Russian Academy of Sciences, published a review of these studies in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2009). Earlier in 2006 he and I collected together reviews of the Russian literature by a group of eminent radiation scientists and published these in the book Chernobyl, 20 Years After. The result: more than a million people have died between 1986 and 2004 as a direct result of Chernobyl.” (“Deconstructing Nuclear Experts, Chris Busby, Counterpunch)

One million dead, that’s the bottom line. And, according to Busby, “we can already calculate that the contamination (at Fukushima) is actually worse than Chernobyl.”

That’s certain, but don’t expect to read it in the MSM. Or this, which is also from Busby:

Since the official International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) figures for the Fukushima contamination are from 200 to 900kBq.sq metre out to 78km from the site, we can expect between 22% and 90% increases in cancer in people living in these places in the next 10 years.”

There’s a large body of research on the effects of radiation on humans. In fact, scientists conducted a series of studies on the people living on the Marshall Islands following nuclear weapons tests at Bikini and Enewetak atolls. This is where the US exploded more than 60 atomic bombs between 1946-58. Here’s an excerpt from an article in Counterpunch titled “Radiation, Japan and the Marshall Islands; Living and dying downwind”:



“The legacy of latent radiogenic diseases from hydrogen bomb testing in the Marshall Islands provides some clues about what ill-health mysteries await the affected Japanese in the decades ahead…..Traces of I-131 have been discovered in Tokyo drinking water and in seawater offshore from the reactors. It took nine years for the first thyroid tumor to appear among the exposed Marshallese and hypothyroidism and cancer continued to appear decades later……

o Plutonium-239 has a half life of 24,000 years, is considered one of the most toxic substances on Earth, and if absorbed is a potent alpha emitter that can induce cancer. This isotope too is found in the soils and groundwater of the downwind atolls from the Bikini and Enewetak H-bomb tests…

Radioactive Iodine-129 with a half-life of 15 million years and a well-documented capacity to bioaccumulate in the foodchain, will also remain as a persistent problem for the affected Japanese…

The sociocultural and psychological effects [e.g., PTSD] of the Fukushima nuclear disaster will be long-lasting, given the uncertainty surrounding the contamination of their prefecture and beyond.” (“Radiation, Japan and the Marshall Islands; Living and dying downwind”, Glenn Alcalay, Counterpunch)



It’s all bad, which is why the nuclear industry needs stooges in the media to soft-peddle the news. Because, in truth, what they’re selling is a noxious stew of irradiated poison that kills and maims people while causing incalculable damage to the environment. That’s why industry bigwigs have turned to their friends at the EPA to loosen regulations so that the radioactive material that’s presently showering-down on the US falls within EPA safety standards. Here’s a clip from Washington’s Blog that explains what’s going on behind the public’s back:

“….the EPA is considering drastically raising the amount of allowable radiation in food, water and the environment.

As Michael Kane writes:

In the wake of the continuing nuclear tragedy in Japan, the United States government is still moving quickly to increase the amounts of radiation the population can “safely” absorb by raising the safe zone for exposure to levels designed to protect the government and nuclear industry more than human life. It’s all about cutting costs now as the infinite-growth paradigm sputters and moves towards extinction. As has been demonstrated by government conduct in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of Deepwater Horizon and in Japan, life has taken a back seat to cost-cutting and public relations posturing. The game plan now appears to be to protect government and the nuclear industry from “excessive costs”… at any cost.” (Washington’s Blog)

The radioactive toxins that are now oozing into the soil and water-table or flowing into Japan’s coastal waters or lofting skyward into the jet-stream where they will spread across continents, will continue to wreak havoc long after this generation has passed its mortal coil. Easing EPA safety standards won’t change a thing. Where goes radiation, there too goes cancer and death. The disaster in Japan merely buys a little time for us to rethink our own policies before a similar crisis strikes here. And, it will strike here; it’s only a matter of time. Consider the comments of Dave Lochbaum, Director of UCS’s Nuclear Safety Project, who testified on Wednesday before the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. Here’s what he said:

“Today, tens of thousands of tons of irradiated fuel sits in spent fuel pools across America. At many sites, there is nearly ten times as much irradiated fuel in the spent fuel pools as in the reactor cores. The spent fuel pools are not cooled by an array of highly reliable emergency cooling systems capable of being powered from the grid, diesel generators, or batteries. Instead, the pools are cooled by one regular system sometimes backed up by an alternate makeup system.

The spent fuel pools are not housed within robust concrete containment structures designed to protect the public from the radioactivity released from damaged irradiated fuel. Instead, the pools are often housed in buildings with sheet metal siding like that in a Sears storage shed. I have nothing against the quality or utility of Sears’ storage sheds, but they are not suitable for nuclear waste storage.



The irrefutable bottom line is that we have utterly failed to properly manage the risk from irradiated fuel stored at our nation’s nuclear power plants. We can and must do better.” (The Union of Concerned Scientists)



Nuclear energy is a ticking-timebomb. There are safer ways to keep the lights on.



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U.S. finds tiny amount of radiation in milk

Mar 31, 2011

Washington State





(Reuters) - A trace amount of radioactive iodine, well below levels of public health concerns, has been detected in milk from the state of Washington as the U.S. monitors radiation levels amid the nuclear crisis in Japan, U.S. regulators said on Wednesday.

"These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children," the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency said in a joint statement.

Testing of the milk sample showed 0.8 pico Curies per liter (pCi/L) of iodine-131, a radioactive form of iodine.

Although there are naturally occurring levels of radiation in milk, such an isotope is not normally found in milk, but the agencies stressed it was 5,000 times lower than the FDA's standard, known as the "defined intervention level."

"These findings are a minuscule amount compared to what people experience every day," FDA scientist Patricia Hansen said in a statement.

The EPA said it has increased radiation monitoring in U.S. milk, precipitation and drinking water in response to radiation leaks at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was damaged by the huge tsunami that was followed by the massive 9.0 quake on March 11.

The agencies said Iodine-131 has a very short half-life of approximately eight days, and the level detected in milk and milk products was therefore expected to drop relatively quickly.

Contaminated milk is a worry after a nuclear accident because toxic levels of radioactive iodine can get into rainwater and feed that is ingested by cows and taken up in their milk. Contaminated milk was one of the biggest causes of thyroid cancers after the nuclear accident in Chernobyl because people near the plant kept drinking milk from local cows.

Iodine-131 is a threat to human health because it goes immediately to the thyroid gland, where it can cause cancer. Experts say thyroid cancer is generally considered non-fatal because treatments are so effective.



Radiation in US Milk: What It Means



Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Milk from America's West Coast containing trace amounts of radioactive iodine is safe to drink, health officials say.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration reported higher-than-normal levels of radioactive Iodine-131 in milk samples from California and Washington Wednesday. But the levels are 5,000 times below the danger threshold.

"These types of findings are to be expected in the coming days and are far below levels of public health concern, including for infants and children," the EPA said on its website.

A March 25 radiation reading from milk in Spokane, Wash. -- 0.8 picocuries per liter -- is more than 4,000 times less than that of a normal banana, which naturally contains radioactive potassium.

Agencies will continue to measure radiation levels in milk and other food products in the U.S. during Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis.

"Radioactivity levels in milk products are monitored, so it is unlikely that any significantly contaminated milk would make it to the marketplace," said Dr. Timothy Jorgensen, associate professor in the department of radiation medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center. "The U.S. population need not be concerned about this level of Iodine-131."

On March 28 the EPA reported very low levels of radiation in the air over Alaska, Alabama, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Saipan, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands and Washington state.

On March 22, the FDA banned milk and produce imported from Japan's Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
 

Setbacks mount in Japan at leaking nuclear plant









By MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

March 30, 2011



TOKYO – Setbacks mounted Wednesday in the crisis over Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear facility, with nearby seawater testing at its highest radiation levels yet and the president of the plant operator checking into a hospital with hypertension.

Nearly three weeks after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami slammed and engulfed the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, knocking out cooling systems that keep nuclear fuel rods from overheating, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is still struggling to bring the facility in northeastern Japan under control.

The country's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko reached out to some of the thousands displaced by the twin disasters — which have killed more than 11,000 people — spending about an hour consoling a group of evacuees at a Tokyo center.

"I couldn't talk with them very well because I was nervous, but I felt that they were really concerned about us," said Kenji Ukito, an evacuee from a region near the plant. "I was very grateful."

At the crippled plant, leaking radiation has seeped into the soil and seawater nearby and made its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far as Tokyo, 140 miles (220 kilometers) to the south.

The stress of reining in Japan's worst crisis since World War II has taken its toll on TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu, who went to a hospital late Tuesday.

Shimizu, 66, has not been seen in public since a March 13 news conference in Tokyo, raising speculation that he had suffered a breakdown. For days, officials deflected questions about Shimizu's whereabouts, saying he was "resting" at company headquarters.

Spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said Wednesday that Shimizu had been admitted to a Tokyo hospital after suffering dizziness and high blood pressure.

The leadership vacuum at TEPCO — whose shares have plunged nearly 80 percent since the crisis began — comes amid growing criticism over its failure to halt the radiation leaks. Bowing deeply, arms at his side, Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata announced at a news conference that he would step in and apologized for the delay.

"We must do everything we can to end this situation as soon as possible for the sake of everyone who has been affected," said Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima prefecture. "I am extremely disappointed and saddened by the suggestion that this might drag out longer."

Although experts have said since the early days of the crisis that the nuclear complex will need to be scrapped because workers have sprayed it with corrosive seawater to keep fuel rods cool, TEPCO acknowledged publicly for the first time Wednesday that at least four of the plant's six reactors will have to be decommissioned.

"After pouring seawater on them ... I believe we cannot use them anymore," Katsumata said. Japan's government has been saying since March 20 that the entire plant must be scrapped.

On Wednesday, nuclear safety officials said seawater 300 yards (meters) outside the plant contained 3,355 times the legal limit for the amount of radioactive iodine — the highest rate yet and a sign that more contaminated water was making its way into the ocean.

The amount of iodine-131 found south of the plant does not pose an immediate threat to human health but was a "concern," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official. He said there was no fishing in the area.

Radioactive iodine is short-lived, with a half-life of just eight days, and in any case was expected to dissipate quickly in the ocean. It does not tend to accumulate in shellfish.

"We will nail down the cause, and will do our utmost to prevent it from rising further," he said.

Highly toxic plutonium also has been detected in the soil outside the plant, TEPCO said. Safety officials said the amounts did not pose a risk to humans, but the finding supports suspicions that dangerously radioactive water is leaking from damaged nuclear fuel rods. There have been no reports of plutonium being found in seawater.

The latest findings on radioactive iodine highlighted the urgent need to power up the power plant's cooling system. Workers succeeded last week in reconnecting some parts of the plant to the power grid.

But as they pumped in water to cool the reactors and nuclear fuel, they found pools of radioactive water in the basements of several buildings and in trenches outside.

The contaminated water has been emitting many times the amount of radiation that the government considers safe for workers, making it a priority to pump the water out before electricity can be restored.

Complicating matters, the tanks storing the contaminated water are beginning to fill up. Pumping at one unit has been suspended since Tuesday night while workers scramble to drain a new tank after the first one reached capacity. And the water just kept coming Wednesday, when a new pool was found.

In another effort to reduce the spread of radioactive particles, TEPCO plans to spray resin on the ground around the plant. The company will test the method Thursday in one section of the plant before using it elsewhere, Nishiyama said.

"The idea is to glue them to the ground," he said. But it would be too sticky to use inside buildings or on sensitive equipment.

The government also is considering covering some reactors with cloth tenting, TEPCO said. If successful, that could allow workers to spend longer periods of time in other areas of the plant.

Meanwhile, white smoke was reported coming from a plant about 10 miles (15 kilometers) from the troubled one. The smoke quickly dissipated and no radiation was released; officials were looking into its cause. The Fukushima Daini plant also suffered some damage in the tsunami but has been in cold shutdown since days after the quake.

The spread of radiation has raised concerns about the safety of Japan's seafood, even though experts say the low levels suggest radiation won't accumulate in fish at unsafe levels. Trace amounts of radioactive cesium-137 have been found in anchovies as far afield as Chiba, near Tokyo, but at less than 1 percent of acceptable levels.

Experts say the Pacific is so vast that any radiation will be quickly diluted before it becomes problematic. Citing dilution, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has played down the risks of seafood contamination.

As officials seek to bring an end to the nuclear crisis, hundreds of thousands in the northeast are trying to put their lives back together. The official death toll stood at 11,257 on Wednesday, with the final toll likely surpassing 18,000.

The government said damage is expected to cost $310 billion, making it the most costly natural disaster on record.

In the town of Rikuzentakata, one 24-year-old said she's been searching every day for a missing friend but will have to return to her job at a nursing home because she has run out of cash.

Life is far from back to normal, she said.

"Our family posted a sign in our house: Stay positive," Eri Ishikawa said. But she said it's a struggle.

___

Associated Press writers Eric Talmadge in Fukushima, Jay Alabaster in Rikuzentakata, and Shino Yuasa, Noriko Kitano and Elaine Kurtenbach in Tokyo contributed to this report.



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Plutonium found in Fukushima plant soil
Tokyo Electric Power Company says plutonium has been found in soil samples from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.



It says the radioactive substance appears to be related to the ongoing nuclear accident, but the level detected is the same as that found in other parts of Japan and does not pose a threat to human health.



TEPCO collected samples from 5 locations around the power plant over 2 days from March 21st and found 2 samples contaminated with plutonium.



Plutonium is a byproduct of the nuclear power generation process. At the number 3 reactor of the Fukushima plant, plutonium is an ingredient in mixed oxide, or MOX, fuel.



Radioactivity from plutonium can be shielded by a sheet of paper. But it can remain in lungs and other organs to cause long-term damages including cancer.



The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the detected level is the same as that found in the environment and not health-threatening for workers who conducted the sampling, nor residents in surrounding areas.



The agency said it is awaiting the results of another survey by the Science Ministry outside of a 20-kilometer radius from the plant, as well as a further survey by TEPCO in the plant compound.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 02:20 +0900 (JST)


MELTDOWN: Plutonium Found In Soil At Fukushima As Cover Up Continues

Steve Watson

Infowars.com

March 29, 2011



Japanese news is reporting that most highly radioactive isotope known to man, plutonium, has been discovered in the soil in multiple different locations at the ailing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Even so, the Japanese government and the plant operators maintain there is no risk to human health.

Authorities have confirmed that three different kinds of plutonium have been discovered.

From Kyodo news:

Plutonium has been detected in soil at five locations at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday.

The operator of the nuclear complex said that the plutonium is believed to have been discharged from nuclear fuel at the plant, which was damaged by the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

While noting that the concentration level does not pose a risk to human health, the utility firm said it will strengthen monitoring on the environment in and around the nuclear plant.
Further details suggest that this information has been known for some time and has been kept quiet until today.

Reuters reports:

TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto told journalists at the company’s latest briefing that test results showing the plutonium came from samples taken a week ago.
Indeed, as we reported last week, experts believe that the presence of plutonium means that Reactor 3, which runs on MOX or Mixed Oxide fuel, a mixture of plutonium and uranium, is compromised.

There are suggestions that the Japanese authorities knew this was the case a full two weeks ago on March 14, when the reactor was hit with a massive explosion that sent debris hurtling hundreds of feet into the air in an orange fireball.

This report from the American Nuclear Society explains further the consequences of a plutonium leak from reactor 3.

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.

Meanwhile, yesterday, officials retracted an announcement that radiation levels in the containment building of reactor number 2 had soared to 10 million times above normal.

The retraction came hours after the initial announcement, however, and was corrected to 100,000 times over normal.

It was not made clear what the error was, with TEPCO reporting on its website there was a “mistake in the assessment of the measurement of iodine-134.”

In addition, new pools of radioactive water have been found in an underground tunnel linked to the number two reactor, sending radiation levels much higher than has previously been recorded.

Hundreds of cubic meters of water is thought to have leaked from the reactor’s core, with radiation levels exceeding 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

At a radiation level of 1,000 millisieverts per hour, people could suffer a decrease in the number of lymphocytes — a type of white blood cell — in just 30 minutes, and half could die within 30 days by remaining in such conditions for four hours, reports Kyodo.

The tunnel is said to be between 55 to 70 meters away from the sea shore.

The Japanese government has consistently said it does not believe that radioactive water is leaking into the soil or the sea. However, elevated radiation levels thousands of times above safety levels have been reported several hundred meters offshore.

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Sunday that a new measurement of seawater taken about 1,000 feet from the facility showed an iodine level 1,850.5 times the legal limit, higher than a reading taken the previous day.

New readings from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, have also shown ocean contamination has spread about a mile (1.6 kilometers) farther north of the nuclear site, AP reports.

In addition, water purifications plants across Japan have been told to stop taking in rainwater as radiation levels in the atmosphere continue to rise.

The continually increasing evidence of a cover up makes you wonder just what kind of leaks the plant operators are spending more time trying to prevent.





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Link to: CURRENT RADIATION LEVELS MAP  http://www.radiationnetwork.com/

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RALEIGH, NC (WRAL) – Very low levels of radioactive Iodine 131 have been detected in the air throughout the U.S. as a result of nuclear leaks at the Fukushima plant in Japan, Progress Energy officials said Saturday.



Iodine 131 is a form of radiation typically released into the air by nuclear reactors.



Progress Energy spokesman Drew Elliot said very sensitive equipment at the utility's Robinson and Crystal River nuclear plants, in South Carolina and Florida, respectively, detected iodine radiation in the atmosphere, but said it did not pose a health threat for U.S. residents.



A news release from the utility stated that similar readings were expected at the Harris plant near New Hill, N.C., and the Brunswick plant near Southport, N.C. in the coming days.



Elliot said iodine travels through the air very easily, which is why it can be detected across the world from Japan, but he reiterated that levels were too low to "affect public health or safety."



An email alert was sent to all nuclear employees, as well as to county and state leaders in the affected areas, on Friday, Elliot said.



Radiation in Mass. rainwater likely from Japan

AP

March 27, 2011



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.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said the in-state sample was taken in the past week, but they did not say where. The testing is part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency network that monitors for radioactivity.

State officials said similar testing was done in California, Pennsylvania, Washington and other states, and showed comparable levels of I-131 in rain.

Massachusetts testing last week of samples from the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs showed no detectable levels of I-131, health officials said.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan Jr. directed the Department of Environmental Protection to collect additional samples for testing from several water bodies across Massachusetts. Results will be available over the next several days.

In Japan, mounting problems, including miscalculated radiation figures and inadequate storage tanks for huge amounts of contaminated water, stymied emergency workers Sunday as they struggled to bring the country's nuclear complex back from the edge of disaster. Workers were trying to remove radioactive water from the nuclear compound and restart the regular cooling systems for the dangerously hot fuel.
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This image released by Japan Ground Self-Defense Force via Kyodo News shows Unit 4 at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Sunday, March 27, 2011

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In this image released by Japan Ground Self-Defense Force via Kyodo News, smoke billows from Unit 3 at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Sunday, March 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Japan Ground Self-Defense Force via Kyodo News)

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Radiation in seawater may be spreading in Japan






TOKYO (AP) -- Highly radioactive iodine seeping from Japan's damaged nuclear complex may be making its way into seawater farther north of the plant than previously thought, officials said Monday, adding to radiation concerns as the crisis stretches into a third week.
Mounting problems, including badly miscalculated radiation figures and no place to store dangerously contaminated water, have stymied emergency workers struggling to cool down the overheating plant and avert a disaster with global implications.
The coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, located 140 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo, has been leaking radiation since a magnitude-9.0 quake on March 11 triggered a tsunami that engulfed the complex. The wave knocked out power to the system that cools the dangerously hot nuclear fuel rods.
On Monday, workers resumed the laborious yet urgent task of pumping out the hundreds of tons of radioactive water inside several buildings at the six-unit plant. The water must be removed and safely stored before work can continue to power up the plant's cooling system, nuclear safety officials said.
The contaminated water, discovered last Thursday, has been emitting radiation that measured more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour in a recent reading at Unit 2 - some 100,000 times normal amounts, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
As officials scrambled to determine the source of the radioactive water, chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano repeated Monday that the contaminated water in Unit 2 appeared to be due to a temporary partial meltdown of the reactor core.
He called it "very unfortunate" but said the spike in radiation appeared limited to the unit.
However, new readings show contamination in the ocean has spread about a mile (1.6 kilometers) farther north of the nuclear site than before. Radioactive iodine-131 was discovered just offshore from Unit 5 and Unit 6 at a level 1,150 times higher than normal, Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told reporters Monday.
He had said earlier there was no link between the radioactive water leaking inside the plant and the radiation in the sea. On Monday, though, he reversed that position, saying he does suspect that radioactive water from the plant may indeed be leaking into the ocean.
Closer to the plant, radioactivity in seawater tested about 1,250 times higher than normal last week and climbed to 1,850 times normal over the weekend. Nishiyama said the increase was a concern, but also said the area is not a source of seafood and that the contamination posed no immediate threat to human health.
Up to 600 people are working inside the plant in shifts. Nuclear safety officials say workers' time inside the crippled units is closely monitored to minimize their exposure to radioactivity, but two workers were hospitalized Thursday when they suffered burns after stepping into contaminated water. They were to be released from the hospital Monday.
Meanwhile, a strong earthquake shook the region and prompted a brief tsunami alert early Monday, adding to the sense of unease across Japan. The quake off the battered Miyagi prefecture coast in the northeast measured magnitude-6.5, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
No damage or injuries were reported, and TEPCO said the quake would not affect work to stabilize the plant. Scores of strong earthquakes have rattled Japan over the past two weeks.
Confusion at the plant has intensified fears that the nuclear crisis will last weeks, months or years amid alarms over radiation making its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far as Tokyo.
On Sunday, TEPCO officials said radiation in leaking water in the Unit 2 reactor was 10 million times above normal - an apparent spike that sent employees fleeing the unit. The day ended with officials saying the huge figure had been miscalculated and offering apologies.
"The number is not credible," TEPCO spokesman Takashi Kurita said late Sunday. "We are very sorry."
A few hours later, TEPCO Vice President Sakae Muto said a new test had found radiation levels 100,000 times above normal - far better than the first results, though still very high.
But he ruled out having an independent monitor oversee the various checks despite the errors.
Muto acknowledged it could take a long time to clean up the Fukushima complex.
"We cannot say at this time how many months or years it will take," he said.
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Associated Press writers Tomoko A. Hosaka, Mayumi Saito, Yuri Kageyama and Mari Yamaguchi contributed to this report.




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Disaster-hit Japan faces protracted nuclear crisis

Sun Mar 27, 2011

www.reuters.com



Battle to control Fukushima plant seen far from over

* Japan crisis helps tip Germany poll against Merkel

* More than 27,000 dead or missing from quake and tsunami (Adds Kyodo on PM, expert)

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Yoko Kubota

TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Japan appeared resigned on Monday to a long fight to contain the world's most dangerous atomic crisis in 25 years after high radiation levels complicated work at its crippled nuclear plant.

Engineers have been battling to control the six-reactor Fukushima complex since it was damaged by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that also left more than 27,000 people dead or missing across Japan's devastated north east.

Radiation at the plant has soared in recent days. Latest readings at the weekend showed contamination 100,000 times normal in water at reactor No. 2 and 1,850 times normal in the nearby sea.

Those were the most alarming levels since the crisis began.

"I think maybe the situation is much more serious than we were led to believe," said one expert, Najmedin Meshkati, of the University of Southern California, adding it may take weeks to stabilise the situation and the United Nations should step in.

"This is far beyond what one nation can handle - it needs to be bumped up to the U.N. Security Council. In my humble opinion, this is more important than the Libya no fly zone."





Under-pressure plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501.T) has conceded it faces a protracted and uncertain operation to contain overheating fuel rods and avert a meltdown.

"Regrettably, we don't have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the crisis will be over)," TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.

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Japan disaster in figures r.reuters.com/ser58r

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Amount of Radiation Released from the Japanese Nuclear Reactors is NOT “Safe”

Washington’s Blog

March 26, 2011





Editor’s note: It was reported last night that radiation from iodine 131 in seawater offshore from the plant is 1,250 times higher than normal. Japanese officialdom proclaimed this within acceptable limits established by regulations and the contamination posed little risk to aquatic life. Once again, another fine example demonstrating that government is a fatal threat to human life

Just as with the Gulf oil spill – where BP, government spokesmen and mainstream talking heads spewed happy talk about how “benign” the dispersants were and how all the oil had disappeared – there is now an avalanche of statements that the radiation is at “safe” doses for everyone outside of the immediate vicinity of Fukushima.

For example, Japanese government call-in advice lines are telling people to simply rinse off any produce covered with radioactive dust.



Ann Coulter claims that radiation is good for you

It is not very confidence-inspiring that:



EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California.
Or that the EPA has pulled 8 of its 18 radiation monitors in California, Oregon and Washington because (by implication) they are giving readings which seem too high.

What Levels of Radiation Are Being Released?

So what levels of radiation are being released at Fukushima?

New Scientist reports that the radioactive fallout from Japan is approaching Chernobyl levels:

Japan’s damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima has been emitting radioactive iodine and caesium at levels approaching those seen in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Austrian researchers have used a worldwide network of radiation detectors – designed to spot clandestine nuclear bomb tests – to show that iodine-131 is being released at daily levels 73 per cent of those seen after the 1986 disaster. The daily amount of caesium-137 released from Fukushima Daiichi is around 60 per cent of the amount released from Chernobyl.
Tyler Durden points out that – when you consider the fact that the amount of Caesium-137 released at Fukushima in the first 3-4 days of the crisis amounted to 50% that released by Chernobyl over 10 days – the real run rate of the radiation released at Fukushima is now about 120-150% the figure released by the Chernobyl explosion.

There are other signs of high levels radiation. See this and this. And it is important to remember that the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl.

This Could Continue for a While

Many experts say that it could take months to contain Fukushima. See this and this. And therefore, high radiation levels might continue to be released for some time.

Evidence for the fact that a quick fix is unlikely is widespread. For example, reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 were all leaking steam yesterday.

There was some indication that reactors 5 and 6 are leaking as well. As Kyodo News reports:

The firm [Tokyo Electric Power Company] also said it found both iodine-131 and cesium-137 in a sample taken from near the drain outlets of the plant’s No. 5 and No. 6 reactors that stabilized Sunday in so-called ”cold shutdown.”
CNN notes today:

Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation.
The New York Times reports:

A senior nuclear executive who insisted on anonymity but has broad contacts in Japan said that there was a long vertical crack running down the side of the reactor vessel itself. The crack runs down below the water level in the reactor and has been leaking fluids and gases, he said.

***

“There is a definite, definite crack in the vessel — it’s up and down and it’s large,” he said. “The problem with cracks is they do not get smaller.”
The cores of reactors 1 and 3 appear to be leaking as well.

This is not to say that there will be a full meltdown which sends radioactive plumes high into the stratosphere. I am assuming that will not happen. But the release of radioactivity is severe and ongoing.

But Low Doses of Radiation Are Safe … Aren’t They?

While most would dismiss as crackpot ramblings Coulter’s claim that radiation is good for you, what about the pervasive claims that the amount of radiation which has been released is so low that it is “safe” for people outside of the immediate vicinity of Fukushima?

Physicians for Social Responsibility notes:

According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer.

“There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”

“Consuming food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the body,”said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

***

Radiation can be concentrated many times in the food chain and any consumption adds to the cumulative risk of cancer and other diseases.
John LaForge notes:

The National Council on Radiation Protection says, “… every increment of radiation exposure produces an incremen­tal increase in the risk of cancer.” The Environmental Protection Agency says, “… any exposure to radiation poses some risk, i.e. there is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk.” The Department of Energy says about “low levels of radiation” that “… the major effect is a very slight increase in cancer risk.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says, “any amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer … any increase in dose, no matter how small, results in an incremental increase in risk.” The National Academy of Sciences, in its “Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII,” says, “… it is unlikely that a threshold exists for the induction of cancers ….”

Long story short, “One can no longer speak of a ‘safe’ dose level,” as Dr. Ian Fairlie and Dr. Marvin Resnikoff said in their report “No dose too low,” in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
And Brian Moench, MD, writes:

Administration spokespeople continuously claim “no threat” from the radiation reaching the US from Japan, just as they did with oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf. Perhaps we should all whistle “Don’t worry, be happy” in unison. A thorough review of the science, however, begs a second opinion.

That the radiation is being released 5,000 miles away isn’t as comforting as it seems…. Every day, the jet stream carries pollution from Asian smoke stacks and dust from the Gobi Desert to our West Coast, contributing 10 to 60 percent of the total pollution breathed by Californians, depending on the time of year. Mercury is probably the second most toxic substance known after plutonium. Half the mercury in the atmosphere over the entire US originates in China. It, too, is 5,000 miles away. A week after a nuclear weapons test in China, iodine 131 could be detected in the thyroid glands of deer in Colorado, although it could not be detected in the air or in nearby vegetation.

The idea that a threshold exists or there is a safe level of radiation for human exposure began unraveling in the 1950s when research showed one pelvic x-ray in a pregnant woman could double the rate of childhood leukemia in an exposed baby. Furthermore, the risk was ten times higher if it occurred in the first three months of pregnancy than near the end. This became the stepping-stone to the understanding that the timing of exposure was even more critical than the dose. The earlier in embryonic development it occurred, the greater the risk.

A new medical concept has emerged, increasingly supported by the latest research, called “fetal origins of disease,” that centers on the evidence that a multitude of chronic diseases, including cancer, often have their origins in the first few weeks after conception by environmental insults disturbing normal embryonic development. It is now established medical advice that pregnant women should avoid any exposure to x-rays, medicines or chemicals when not absolutely necessary, no matter how small the dose, especially in the first three months.

“Epigenetics” is a term integral to fetal origins of disease, referring to chemical attachments to genes that turn them on or off inappropriately and have impacts functionally similar to broken genetic bonds. Epigenetic changes can be caused by unimaginably small doses – parts per trillion – be it chemicals, air pollution, cigarette smoke or radiation. Furthermore, these epigenetic changes can occur within minutes after exposure and may be passed on to subsequent generations.

The Endocrine Society, 14,000 researchers and medical specialists in more than 100 countries, warned that “even infinitesimally low levels of exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, indeed, any level of exposure at all, may cause endocrine or reproductive abnormalities, particularly if exposure occurs during a critical developmental window. Surprisingly, low doses may even exert more potent effects than higher doses.” If hormone-mimicking chemicals at any level are not safe for a fetus, then the concept is likely to be equally true of the even more intensely toxic radioactive elements drifting over from Japan, some of which may also act as endocrine disruptors.

Many epidemiologic studies show that extremely low doses of radiation increase the incidence of childhood cancers, low birth-weight babies, premature births, infant mortality, birth defects and even diminished intelligence. Just two abdominal x-rays delivered to a male can slightly increase the chance of his future children developing leukemia. By damaging proteins anywhere in a living cell, radiation can accelerate the aging process and diminish the function of any organ. Cells can repair themselves, but the rapidly growing cells in a fetus may divide before repair can occur, negating the body’s defense mechanism and replicating the damage.

Comforting statements about the safety of low radiation are not even accurate for adults. Small increases in risk per individual have immense consequences in the aggregate. When low risk is accepted for billions of people, there will still be millions of victims. New research on risks of x-rays illustrate the point.

Radiation from CT coronary scans is considered low, but, statistically, it causes cancer in one of every 270 40-year-old women who receive the scan. Twenty year olds will have double that rate. Annually, 29,000 cancers are caused by the 70 million CT scans done in the US. Common, low-dose dental x-rays more than double the rate of thyroid cancer. Those exposed to repeated dental x-rays have an even higher risk of thyroid cancer.



Beginning with Madam Curie, the story of nuclear power is one where key players have consistently miscalculated or misrepresented the risks of radiation. The victims include many of those who worked on the original Manhattan Project, the 200,000 soldiers who were assigned to eye witness our nuclear tests, the residents of the Western US who absorbed the lion’s share of fallout from our nuclear testing in Nevada, the thousands of forgotten victims of Three Mile Island or the likely hundreds of thousands of casualties of Chernobyl. This could be the latest chapter in that long and tragic story when, once again, we were told not to worry.

Note: People who rationally discuss the hazards from nuclear accidents are dismissed as “anti-nuclear”. However, that is like saying that people who are against pilots drinking tequila during flights are anti-flying. As Bloomberg points out, the operator of the Fukushima reactors faked safety tests and results and cut every corner in the books for decades, just as BP cut every safety corner prior to the Gulf oil spill. Moreover, the Fukushima reactors were not designed to withstand an earthquake or a tsunami, and their peculiar design makes the spent fuel rods an even greater danger than the reactors themselves.

Demanding a safer design – e.g. thorium reactors – and ongoing maintenance and safety tests doesn’t mean one is anti-nuclear.

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Mar 19,2011


Japan cites radiation in milk, spinach near plant






FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) -- In the first sign that contamination from Japan's stricken nuclear complex had seeped into the food chain, officials said Saturday that radiation levels in spinach and milk from farms near the tsunami-crippled facility exceeded government safety limits.
Minuscule amounts of radioactive iodine also were found in tap water Friday in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan - although experts said none of those tests showed any health risks. The Health Ministry also said that radioactive iodine slightly above government safety limits was found in drinking water at one point Thursday in a sampling from Fukushima prefecture, the site of the nuclear plant, but later tests showed the level had fallen again.
Six workers trying to bring the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant back under control were exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation - Japan's normal limit for those involved in emergency operations, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the complex. The government raised that limit to 250 millisieverts on Tuesday as the crisis escalated.
Officials said the crisis at the plant appeared to be stabilizing, with near-constant dousing of dangerously overheated reactors and uranium fuel, but the situation was still far from resolved.
"We more or less do not expect to see anything worse than what we are seeing now," said Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Japan has been grappling with a cascade of disasters unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11. The quake spawned a tsunami that ravaged Japan's northeastern coast, killing more than 7,600 people and knocking out cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, causing the complex to leak radiation.
More than 11,000 people are still missing, and more than 452,000 are living in shelters.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, meanwhile, insisted the contaminated foods "pose no immediate health risk."
An expert in the United States also said the risk appeared limited and urged calm.
"The most troubling thing to me is the fear that's out of proportion to the risk," said Dr. Henry Duval Royal, a radiologist at Washington University Medical School.
The tainted milk was found 20 miles (30 kilometers) from the plant, a local official said. The spinach was collected from six farms between 60 miles (100 kilometers) and 75 miles (120 kilometers) to the south of the reactors.
Those areas are rich farm country known for melons, rice and peaches, so the contamination could affect food supplies for large parts of Japan.
More tests was being done on other foods, Edano said, and if they show further contamination, then food shipments from the area would be halted.
Officials said it was too early to know if the nuclear crisis caused the contamination, but Edano said air sampling done near the dairy showed higher-than-normal radiation levels.
Iodine levels in the spinach exceeded safety limits by three to seven times, a food safety official said. Tests on the milk done Wednesday detected small amounts of iodine-131 and cesium-137, the latter being a longer-lasting element that can cause more types of cancer. But only iodine was detected Thursday and Friday, a Health Ministry official said.
After the announcements, Japanese officials immediately tried to calm an already-jittery public, saying the amounts detected were so small that people would have to consume unimaginable amounts to endanger their health.
"Can you imagine eating one kilogram of spinach every day for one year?" said State Secretary of Health Minister Yoko Komiyama. One kilogram is a little over two pounds.
Edano said someone drinking the tainted milk for one year would consume as much radiation as in a CT scan; for the spinach, it would be one-fifth of a CT scan. A CT scan is a compressed series of X-rays used for medical tests.
The Health Ministry said iodine levels slightly above the safety limit were discovered Thursday in drinking water samples from Fukushima prefecture. On Friday, levels were about half that benchmark; by Saturday, they had fallen further.
Drinking one liter of water with the iodine at Thursday's levels is the equivalent of receiving one-eighty-eighth of the radiation from a chest X-ray, said Kazuma Yokota, a spokesman for the prefecture's disaster response headquarters.
The trace amounts of iodine were found in Tokyo's water on Friday, the first day since the government ordered nationwide daily sampling due to the nuclear crisis, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said. A ministry statement said the amounts found did not exceed government safety limits. But tests on water, which for decades were only done once a year, usually show no iodine.
At the Fukushima plant, emergency workers have been struggling to cool the reactors and the pools used to store used nuclear fuel, as well as to put the facility back on the electricity grid.
A replacement power line reached the complex Friday, but workers needed to methodically work through badly damaged and deeply complex electrical systems to make the final linkups without setting off a spark and potentially an explosion. Company officials hoped to be able to switch on the cooling systems Sunday.
Once the power is reconnected, it is not clear if the cooling systems will still work.
A fire truck with a high-pressure cannon pumped water directly from the ocean into one of the most troubled areas of the complex - the cooling pool for used fuel rods at the plant's Unit 3. Because of high radiation levels, firefighters only went to the truck every three hours to refuel it.
Holes were also punched in the roofs of units 5 and 6 to vent buildups of hydrogen gas, and the temperature in Unit 5's fuel storage pool dropped after new water was pumped in, according to officials with Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the complex.
More workers were thrown into the effort - bringing the total at the complex to 500 - and the safety threshold for their radiation exposure was raised 2 1/2 times so they could keep working.
Officials insisted that would cause no health damage.
Edano said conditions at the reactors in Units 1, 2 and 3 - all of which have been rocked by explosions in the past eight days - had "stabilized."
The reactors and the storage pools both need constant sources of cooling water. Even when they are taken from reactors, uranium rods remain very hot and must be cooled for months, possibly longer, to prevent them from heating up again and emitting radioactivity.
Low levels of radiation have been detected well beyond Tokyo, which is 140 miles (220 kilometers) south of the plant, but hazardous levels have been limited to the plant itself.
People evacuated from around the plant, along with some emergency workers, have tested positive for radiation exposure. Three firefighters needed to be decontaminated with showers, while among the 18 plant workers who tested positive, one absorbed about one-tenth of the amount that could induce radiation poisoning.
Outside the bustling disaster response center in the city of Fukushima, 40 miles (60 kilometers) northwest of the plant, government nuclear specialist Kazuya Konno was able to take only a three-minute break for his first meeting since the quake with his wife, Junko, and their children.
"It's very nerve-racking. We really don't know what is going to become of our city," said Junko Konno, 35. "Like most other people, we have been staying indoors unless we have to go out."
She brought her husband a small backpack with a change of clothes and snacks. The girls - aged 4 and 6 and wearing pink surgical masks decorated with Mickey Mouse - gave their father hugs.
The government conceded Friday that it was slow to respond to the crisis and welcomed ever-growing help from the U.S. in hopes of preventing a complete meltdown.
Nishiyama, of the nuclear safety agency, also said backup power systems at the plant had been improperly protected, leaving them vulnerable to the tsunami.
The failure of Fukushima's backup power systems, which were supposed to keep cooling systems going in the aftermath of the earthquake, let uranium fuel overheat and were a "main cause" of the crisis, Nishiyama said.
"I cannot say whether it was a human error, but we should examine the case closely," he told reporters.
A spokesman for Tokyo Electric said that while the generators were not directly exposed to the waves, some electrical support equipment was outside. The complex was protected against tsunamis of up to 5 meters (16 feet), he said. Media reports say the tsunami was at least 6 meters (20 feet) high when it struck Fukushima.
Spokesman Motoyasu Tamaki also acknowledged that the complex was old, and might not have been as well-equipped as newer facilities.
The crisis has led to power shortages and factory closures, and triggered a plunge in Japanese stock prices.
On Saturday evening, Japan was rattled by 6.1-magnitude aftershock, with an epicenter just south of the troubled nuclear plants. The temblor, centered 150 kilometers (90 miles) northeast of Tokyo, shook buildings in the capital.
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Yuasa reported from Tokyo, as did Associated Press writers Mari Yamaguchi, Elaine Kurtenbach, Tim Sullivan, Joji Sakurai, and Jeff Donn.


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MELTDOWN OF CREDIBILITY 

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U.S. Government & Media Downplay Japan Radiation Fallout without acknowledging crises is far from over!!!

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Reports Of “Harmless” Radiation Reaching California Are a Whitewash



Bulk of radioactive particles from Fukushima blasts will not reach west coast until Saturday to Monday, with more to come until Reactor Units are resealed.



Paul Joseph Watson

Infowars.com

March 18, 2011



Exactly as we predicted would happen, authorities have cited “miniscule” levels of radiation reaching California as an excuse with which to downplay the threat to Americans of fallout crossing the Pacific from Japan, completely ignoring the fact that the bulk of the radiation from the two blasts at the Fukushima power plant will not reach the west coast until Monday.

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“Radioactive fallout from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant has reached Southern California but the first readings are far below levels that could pose a health hazard, a diplomat said Friday.”

“Initial readings are “about a billion times beneath levels that would be health threatening,” the diplomat told The Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity because the CTBTO does not make its findings public.”

The diplomat called the level of radioactivity “irrelevant,” while another unnamed source told Reuters that the level was “very low.”

If the two individuals quoted in the reports are so confident that there is no threat, why are they so keen on remaining anonymous?

As we have emphasized, the radiation now hitting the west coast is from the early leaks suffered by the Fukushima plant after the earthquake and tsunami last Friday, which actually occurred Thursday U.S. time. These leaks were minimal in comparison to the radiation emitted after explosions on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday tore apart the buildings housing the reactors.

In addition, the radiation currently being measured does not take into account radiation emitted by pools of deadly spent nuclear rods, which only began to emit serious amounts of radiation a few days ago.

We will not know the true level of the threat until the radiation particles emitted as a result of the three explosions that devastated Fukushima hits the west coast over the weekend and into Monday. The fact that authorities have completely failed to point this out suggests they are actively trying to whitewash the threat that the fallout poses to Americans.

For the sake of people in America and around the globe, we hope that levels of radiation have dissipated over the Pacific and that future generations are not made to suffer. But for officials to hastily dismiss the threat before the vast majority of the radiation has even reached the west coast, and while Fukushima is still smoking, in a stage of partial melt down, and emitting more radiation every second, is completely irresponsible and suggests a cover-up.

We heard a similar theme during Obama’s speech yesterday when he all but insulted Americans for preparing themselves for fallout by purchasing potassium iodide pills.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health experts do not recommend people in the U.S. take precautionary measures beyond staying informed,” said Obama, which is precisely what those affected by both Chernobyl and the 3 Mile Island accident were told, trust your government, a mistake that led to nearly a million deaths in the case of Chernobyl and a dramatic rise in cancers in the case of 3 Mile Island.

It was also what ground zero workers heard in the days after 9/11, that the air was “safe to breathe,” a contrived cover-up on behalf of the EPA and the White House that led to thousands of crippling illnesses and deaths of firefighters, police and first responders.

History tells us that government have habitually lied about radiation, air quality and the true scope of health threats to the American people. Only through the use of private monitoring stations will we be able to confidently gauge the true levels of radiation hitting the west coast, and we won’t know the full extent of the danger Americans face until Monday at the earliest.

U.S. Government Cannot Be Trusted On Radiation Plume 170311top1

Suggesting that levels of radiation leaks from the stricken Fukushima plant are being grossly underreported by Japanese authorities, a Swedish government agency told Reuters yesterday that not only will the radiation reach North America, but it will subsequently cover the entire northern hemisphere.

De Geer said he was “convinced it would eventually be detected over the whole northern hemisphere,” according to the report, adding that radioactive particles would “eventually also come here,” referring to Europe.

The Swedes can be trusted to know a thing or two about detecting radiation. While the Soviets were furiously engaged in a cover-up of the Chernobyl disaster which occurred on April 26 1986, Swedish workers at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant were the first ones to detect the fallout from the accident two days later on April 28.

It was only after the workers failed to find the source of any radioactive leak at their own plant that the true horror of what had happened 1,100 km (680 miles) away in the western Soviet Union began to unravel.

The whole planet is united in hoping that Japanese technicians find some way to restore power and water cooling system to the Fukushima plant before that terrible scenario has any chance of repeating.

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 REACTOR #4
Japanese and American assessments of the crisis have differed, with the plant's owner denying Jazcko's report Wednesday that Unit 4's spent fuel pool was dry and that anyone who gets close to the plant could face potentially lethal doses of radiation. But a Tokyo Electric Power Co. executive moved closer to the U.S. position Thursday.__________________________________________________________________________________

Japan races to restore power at crippled reactors

Smoke rises from Unit 2 at crippled nuclear power plant

 msnbc.com staff and news service reports updated 3/18/2011



Key details:
  • Officials working to fix power cable to stricken reactors

  • Smoke seen billowing from Unit 2 reactor building

  • Tokyo asks U.S. government for technical help

  • American nuclear official defends 50-mile evacuation zone

  • Head of UN atomic watchdog says he wants to visit site 

Japanese engineers raced to restore a power cable to a quake-ravaged nuclear power plant on Friday in the hope of restarting pumps needed to pour cold water on overheating fuel rods and avert a catastrophic release of radiation.

Officials said they hoped to fix the cable to two reactors on Friday and to two others by Sunday, but said work would stop in the morning to allow helicopters and fire trucks to resume pouring water on the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, about 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.

"Preparatory work has so far not progressed as fast as we had hoped," an official of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) told a news briefing, adding that engineers had to be constantly checked for radiation levels.

'Unit 3 is our utmost priority'

Smoke billowed from Unit 2 at the plant, and its cause was not known. An explosion hit the building on Tuesday, possibly damaging a crucial cooling chamber that sits below the reactor core.


More urgent, Japan's chief government spokesman said, was the adjacent Unit 3. Fuel rods there may have been partially exposed, and without enough water, the rods may heat further and possibly spew radiation. 

"Dealing with Unit 3 is our utmost priority," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.

Edano said that Tokyo is asking the U.S. government for help and the two are discussing the specifics. "We are coordinating with the U.S. government as to what the U.S. can provide and what people really need," Edano said.

He said crews planned to use fire trucks Friday to spray water more water on Unit 3.

The current evacuation perimeter around the Fukushima plant is appropriate, Edano said.



Emergency workers seemed to try everything they could think of Thursday to douse one of the overheated nuclear reactors: helicopters, heavy-duty fire trucks, even water cannons normally used to quell rioters. But they couldn't be sure any of it was easing the peril at the tsunami-ravaged facility.

Three reactors have had at least partial meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, where wisps of white steam rose from the stricken units Friday morning. But Japanese and U.S. officials believe a greater danger exists in the pools used to store spent nuclear fuel: Fuel rods in one pool were believed to be at least partially exposed, if not dry, and others were in danger. Without water, the rods could heat up and spew radiation.

It could take days and "possibly weeks" to get the complex under control, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jazcko said. He defended the U.S. decision to recommend a 50-mile evacuation zone for its citizens, a much stronger measure than Japan has taken.

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Swedish Government: Radiation To Cover Entire Northern Hemisphere

Paul Joseph Watson

Infowars.com

March 17, 2011



Suggesting that levels of radiation leaks from the stricken Fukushima plant are being grossly underreported by Japanese authorities, a Swedish government agency told Reuters today that not only will the radiation reach North America, but it will subsequently cover the entire northern hemisphere.

“Lars-Erik De Geer, research director at the Swedish Defense Research Institute, a government agency, was citing data from a network of international monitoring stations established to detect signs of any nuclear weapons tests,” reports Reuters.

“Stressing that the levels were not dangerous for people, he predicted the particles would continue across the Atlantic and eventually also reach Europe.”

De Geer said he was “convinced it would eventually be detected over the whole northern hemisphere,” according to the report, adding that radioactive particles would “eventually also come here,” referring to Europe.

De Geer’s prognosis arrives on the back of a study of data by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which confirmed that the radioactive plume from Fukushima would reach the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting southern California late on Friday. The CBTO has a network of radiation monitors deployed globally that can detect radioactive particles such as caesium and iodine isotopes.

Experts are correct in assuming that the initial waves of radiation will be low, but expect levels to rise in subsequent days as the effects of the three blasts to impact the Fukushima facility, which occurred on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, manifest themselves in the form of increased radiation injected into the atmosphere.

“Naturally, with the credibility of every government around the world shot, it is no surprise that most consumer Geiger counter stores are sold out of inventory at this point, at virtually all price points,” writes Tyler Durden.

As we reported earlier, having confidence in the trustworthiness of governments globally who have habitually lied about the true threat posed by radiation, notably after the 3 Mile Island accident and the Chernobyl disaster, is somewhat less than wise.

However, at least the Swedes can be trusted to know a thing or two about detecting radiation. While the Soviets were furiously engaged in a cover-up of the Chernobyl disaster which occurred on April 26 1986, Swedish workers at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant were the first ones to detect the fallout from the accident two days later on April 28.

It was only after the workers failed to find the source of any radioactive leak at their own plant that the true horror of what had happened 1,100 km (680 miles) away in the western Soviet Union began to unravel.

The whole planet is united in hoping that Japanese technicians find some way to restore power and water cooling system to the Fukushima plant before that terrible scenario has any chance of repeating.



The video below shows how far the radiation clouds from Chernobyl spread across Europe, smothering virtually the entire continent within 7 days. Although agencies like the WHO and the IAEA claimed that only 9,000 people died as a consequence, more contemporary studies have shown that nearly a million people have been killed from cancers caused by the disaster over the course of the last 25 years.

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Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown Race Against Time Summary of a Losing Battle March 17 2011

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UN says Japan Radiation 'PLUME' TO HIT U.S. FRIDAY  Tracking Forecast March 12-18 2011 Nuclear Melt

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http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/16/science/plume-graphic.html?ref=science

Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume

A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late Friday.



Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule.

The projection, by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna, gives no information about actual radiation levels but only shows how a radioactive plume would probably move and disperse.

The forecast, calculated Tuesday, is based on patterns of Pacific winds at that time and the predicted path is likely to change as weather patterns shift.

On Sunday, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it expected that no “harmful levels of radioactivity” would travel from Japan to the United States “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.”

The test ban treaty group routinely does radiation projections in an effort to understand which of its global stations to activate for monitoring the worldwide ban on nuclear arms testing. It has more than 60 stations that sniff the air for radiation spikes and uses weather forecasts and powerful computers to model the transport of radiation on the winds.

On Wednesday, the agency declined to release its Japanese forecast, which The New York Times obtained from other sources. The forecast was distributed widely to the agency’s member states.

But in interviews, the technical specialists of the agency did address how and why the forecast had been drawn up.

“It’s simply an indication,” said Lassina Zerbo, head of the agency’s International Data Center. “We have global coverage. So when something happens, it’s important for us to know which station can pick up the event.”

For instance, the Japan forecast shows that the radioactive plume will probably miss the agency’s monitoring stations at Midway and in the Hawaiian Islands but is likely to be detected in the Aleutians and at a monitoring station in Sacramento.

The forecast assumes that radioactivity in Japan is released continuously and forms a rising plume. It ends with the plume heading into Southern California and the American Southwest, including Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The plume would have continued eastward if the United Nations scientists had run the projection forward.

Earlier this week, the leading edge of the tangible plume was detected by the Navy’s Seventh Fleet when it was operating about 100 miles northeast of the Japanese reactor complex. On Monday, the Navy said it had repositioned its ships and aircraft off Japan “as a precautionary measure.”

The United Nations agency has also detected radiation from the stricken reactor complex at its detector station in Gunma, Japan, which lies about 130 miles to the southwest.

The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory B. Jaczko, said Monday that the plume posed no danger to the United States. “You just aren’t going to have any radiological material that, by the time it traveled those large distances, could present any risk to the American public,” he said in a White House briefing.

Mr. Jaczko was asked if the meltdown of a core of one of the reactors would increase the chance of harmful radiation reaching Hawaii or the West Coast.

“I don’t want to speculate on various scenarios,” he replied. “But based on the design and the distances involved, it is very unlikely that there would be any harmful impacts.”

The likely path of the main Japanese plume across the Pacific has also caught the attention of Europeans, many of whom recall how the much closer Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine began spewing radiation.

In Germany on Wednesday, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection held a news conference that described the threat from the Japanese plume as trifling and said there was no need for people to take iodine tablets. The pills can prevent poisoning from the atmospheric release of iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear plants. The United States is also carefully monitoring and forecasting the plume’s movements. The agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.

On Wednesday, Steven Chu, the energy secretary, told Congress that the United States was planning to deploy equipment in Japan that could detect radiation exposure on the ground and in the air. In total, the department’s team includes 39 people and more than eight tons of equipment.

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Workers are struggling at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, seen in a satellite photo at 9:35 a.m. Wednesday. 

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U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High,’ Sees Japan Nuclear Crisis Worsening



WASHINGTON — The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave a far bleaker appraisal on Wednesday of the threat posed by Japan’s nuclear crisis than the Japanese government had offered. He said American officials believed that the damage to at least one crippled reactor was much more serious than Tokyo had acknowledged, and he advised Americans to stay much farther away from the plant than the perimeter established by Japanese authorities.

Multimedia


The announcement opened a new and ominous chapter in the five-day-long effort by Japanese engineers to bring the six side-by-side reactors under control after their cooling systems were knocked out by an earthquake and a tsunami last Friday. It also suggested a serious split between Washington and its closest Asian ally at an especially delicate moment.

The Congressional testimony by Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the commission, was the first time the Obama administration had given its own assessment of the condition of the plant, apparently mixing information it had received from Japan with data it had collected independently.

Mr. Jaczko’s most startling assertion was that there was now little or no water in the pool storing spent nuclear fuel at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed and bleeding radiation into the atmosphere.

As a result, he said, “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

His statement was quickly but not definitively rebutted by officials of Tokyo Electric Power, the Daiichi’s plant’s operator, and Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency.

“We can’t get inside to check, but we’ve been carefully watching the building’s environs, and there has not been any particular problem,” said Hajime Motojuku, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric. Speaking on Thursday morning in Japan, Takumi Koyamada, a spokesman for the regulatory agency, said that when it was checked 12 hours earlier, water remained in the spent fuel pool at reactor No. 4.

“We cannot confirm that there has been a loss in water,” he said.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Jaczko reiterated his earlier statement and added that commission representatives in Tokyo had confirmed that the pool was empty. He said Tokyo Electric and other officials in Japan had confirmed that, and also stressed that high radiation fields were going to make it very difficult to continue having people work at the plant.

If the American analysis is accurate and emergency crews at the plant have been unable to keep the spent fuel at that inoperative reactor properly cooled — it needs to remain covered with water at all times — radiation levels could make it difficult not only to fix the problem at reactor No. 4, but to keep servicing any of the other problem reactors at the plant. In the worst case, experts say, workers could be forced to vacate the plant altogether, and the fuel rods in reactors and spent fuel pools would be left to meltdown, leading to much larger releases of radioactive materials.

While radiation levels at the plant have varied tremendously, Mr. Jaczko said that the peak levels reported there “would be lethal within a fairly short period of time.” He added that another spent fuel pool, at Reactor No. 3, might also be losing water and could soon be in the same condition. Efforts to pour in water by dumping it from helicopters were suspended, for fear that the helicopter crews would receive too large a dose of radiation.

Mr. Jaczko’s testimony came as the American Embassy in Tokyo, on advice from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Americans to evacuate a radius of “approximately 50 miles” from the Fukushima plant.

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US says plant's spent fuel rods dry; Japan says no

 By ERIC TALMADGE and MARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

March 16, 2011



FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Nuclear plant operators trying to avoid complete reactor meltdowns said Thursday that they were close to completing a new power line that might end Japan's crisis, but several ominous signs have also emerged: a surge in radiation levels, unexplained white smoke and spent fuel rods that U.S. officials said could be on the verge of spewing radioactive material.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in Washington on Wednesday that all the water was gone from the spent fuel pools at Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, but Japanese officials denied it. Hajime Motojuku, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the "condition is stable" at Unit 4.

If Jaczko is correct, it would mean there's nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shells of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area.

Jaczko did not say how the information was obtained, but the NRC and U.S. Department of Energy both have experts at the complex of six reactors along Japan's northeastern coast, which was ravaged by last week's magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

The conditions at the plant appeared to worsen, with white smoke pouring from the complex and a surge in radiation levels forcing workers to retreat for hours Wednesday from their struggle to cool the overheating reactors.

As international concern mounted, the chief of the U.N. nuclear agency said he would go to Japan to assess what he called a "serious" situation and urged Tokyo to provide better information to his organization.

Japanese officials raised hopes of easing the crisis, saying early Thursday that they were close to completing a new power line that could restore the reactors' cooling systems.

Naoki Tsunoda, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said the new power line to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was almost finished and that officials planned to try it "as soon as possible," but he could not say exactly when.

The new line could revive electric-powered pumps, allowing the company to maintain a steady water supply to troubled reactors and spent fuel storage ponds, keeping them cool. The company is also trying to repair its existing disabled power line.

Late Wednesday, government officials said they'd asked special police units to bring in water cannons — normally used to quell rioters — to spray water onto the spent fuel storage pool at Unit 4.

The cannons are thought to be strong enough to allow emergency workers to remain a safe distance from the complex while still able to get water into the pool, said Minoru Ogoda of Japan's nuclear safety agency.

TEPCO said it was also considering using military helicopters to douse the reactors with water, after giving up on such a plan because of high radiation levels in the atmosphere.

Wednesday's pullback by workers who have been pumping seawater into the reactors cost valuable time in the fight to prevent a nuclear meltdown, a nightmare scenario following the horrific earthquake and tsunami. The disasters last Friday pulverized Japan's northeastern coast and are feared to have killed more than 10,000 people.

The tsunami destroyed the complex's backup power system and left operators unable to properly cool nuclear fuel. The 180 emergency workers have been working in shifts to manually pump seawater into the reactors.

Japan's emperor, in an unprecedented made-for-TV speech, called on the country to work together.

"It is important that each of us shares the difficult days that lie ahead," said Akihito, 77. "I pray that we will all take care of each other and overcome this tragedy."

He also expressed his worries over the nuclear crisis, saying: "With the help of those involved I hope things will not get worse."

But officials are also taking increasing criticism for poor communication about efforts at the complex. There has been growing unease at the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency's 35 board member nations, who have complained that information coming from Japan on the rapidly evolving nuclear disaster is too slow and vague.

IAEA head Yukiya Amano spoke of a "very serious" situation and said he would leave for Tokyo within a day.

He said it was "difficult to say" if events were out of control, but added, "I will certainly have contact with those people who are working there who tackled the accident, and I will be able to have firsthand information."

The nuclear crisis has partly overshadowed the human tragedy caused by Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake, one of the strongest recorded in history.

Millions of Japanese have been with little food and water in heavy snow and rain since Friday. In some towns, long lines of cars waited outside the few open gas stations, with others lined up at rice-vending machines.

National broadcaster NHK showed mammoth military helicopters lifting off Friday afternoon to survey radiation levels above the nuclear complex, preparing to dump water onto the most troubled reactors in an effort to cool them down.

The defense ministry later said those flights were a drill — then later said it had decided against making an airborne drop because of the high radiation levels.

"The anxiety and anger being felt by people in Fukushima have reached a boiling point," the governor of Fukushima prefecture, Yuhei Sato, fumed in an interview with NHK. He criticized preparations for an evacuation if conditions worsen, and said centers do not have enough hot meals and basic necessities.

More than 4,300 people are officially listed as dead, but officials believe the toll will climb to well over 10,000. Police say more than 452,000 people are staying in temporary shelters such as school gymnasiums.

Wednesday's radiation spike was believed to have come from the complex's Unit 3. But officials also acknowledged that they were far from sure what was going on at the four most troubled reactors, including Unit 3, in part because high radiation levels made it difficult to get very close.

While white smoke was seen rising Wednesday above Unit 3, officials could not ascertain the source. They said it could be spewing from the reactor's spent fuel pool — cooling tanks for used nuclear rods — or may have been from damage to the reactor's containment vessel, the protective shell of thick concrete.

Masahisa Otsuki, an official with TEPCO, said officials are most concerned about the spent fuel pools, which are not encased in protective shells.

"We haven't been able to get any of the latest data at any spent fuel pools. We don't have the latest water levels, temperatures, none of the latest information for any of the four reactors," he said.

In the city of Fukushima, meanwhile, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) inland from the nuclear complex, hundreds of harried government workers, police officers and others struggled to stay on top of the situation in a makeshift command center.

An entire floor of one of the prefecture's office buildings had been taken over by people tracking evacuations, power needs, death tolls and food supplies.

Elevated levels of radiation were detected well outside the 20-mile (30-kilometer) emergency area around the plants. In Ibaraki prefecture, just south of Fukushima, officials said radiation levels were about 300 times normal levels by late morning. It would take three years of constant exposure to these higher levels to raise a person's risk of cancer.

A little radiation was also detected in Tokyo, triggering panic buying of food and water.

Given the reported radiation levels, John Price, an Australian-based nuclear safety expert, said he saw few health risks for the general public so far. But he said he was surprised by how little information the Japanese were sharing.

"We don't know even the fundamentals of what's happening, what's wrong, what isn't working. We're all guessing," he said. "I would have thought they would put on a panel of experts every two hours."

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the government expects to ask the U.S. military for help, though he did not elaborate. He said the government is still considering whether to accept offers of help from other countries.

There are six reactors at the plant. Units 1, 2 and 3, which were operating last week, shut down automatically when the quake hit. Since then, all three have been rocked by explosions. Compounding the problems, on Tuesday a fire broke out in Unit 4's fuel storage pond, an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool, causing radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere.

Units 4, 5 and 6 were shut at the time of the quake, but even offline reactors have nuclear fuel — either inside the reactors or in storage ponds — that need to be kept cool.

Meanwhile, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency estimated that 70 percent of the rods have been damaged at the No. 1 reactor.

Japan's national news agency, Kyodo, said that 33 percent of the fuel rods at the No. 2 reactor were damaged and that the cores of both reactors were believed to have partially melted.

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Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach and Shino Yuasa in Tokyo, David Stringer in Ofunato and Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok contributed to this report.



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URGENT: SDF choppers unable to drop water on nuke reactor due to radiation



TOKYO, March 16, Kyodo

 http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/78597.html



The Self-Defense Forces will not conduct a planned operation Wednesday to drop water from helicopters on the troubled No. 3 reactor of the Fukushima nuclear power plant because of the high radiation level around the plant, Defense Ministry officials said.



The Ground Self-Defense Force helicopters were on standby to drop water on the reactor as it is feared the reactor may have released radioactive steam due to damage to its containment vessel.



==Kyodo

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Japan suspends work at stricken nuclear plant

By ERIC TALMADGE and SHINO YUASA, Associated Press

March 16, 2011



FUKUSHIMA, Japan – Japan ordered emergency workers to withdraw from its stricken nuclear power complex Wednesday amid a surge in radiation, temporarily suspending efforts to cool overheating reactors.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the workers, who were dousing the reactors with seawater in a frantic effort to stabilize their temperatures, had no choice except to withdraw.

"The workers cannot carry out even minimal work at the plant now," Edano said. "Because of the radiation risk we are on standby."

Radiation levels had gone down by later Wednesday, but it was not immediately clear if the workers had been allowed back in.

The nuclear crisis has triggered international alarm and partly overshadowed the human tragedy caused by Friday's earthquake and tsunami, which pulverized Japan's northeastern coastline. Officials believe at least 10,000 people were killed, and possibly many more.

Since then, authorities have been struggling to avert an environmental catastrophe at the coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, 140 miles (220 kilometers) north Tokyo.

Wednesday's radiation spike was apparently the result of a release of pressure that had built up in one of the reactors, officials said, though it was not immediately clear which one. Steam and pressure build up in the reactors as workers try to cool the fuel rods, leading to controlled pressure releases through vents — as well as uncontrolled explosions.

Officials had originally planned use helicopters and fire trucks to spray water in a desperate effort to prevent further radiation leaks and to cool down the reactors.

"It's not so simple that everything will be resolved by pouring in water. We are trying to avoid creating other problems," Edano said.

"We are actually supplying water from the ground, but supplying water from above involves pumping lots of water and that involves risk. We also have to consider the safety of the helicopters above," he said.



A U.S. nuclear expert said he feared the worst.



"It's more of a surrender," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer who now heads the nuclear safety program for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an activist group. "It's not like you wait 10 days and the radiation goes away. In that 10 days things are going to get worse."



"It's basically a sign that there's nothing left to do but throw in the towel," Lochbaum said.



Edano said the government expects to ask the U.S. military for help, though he did not elaborate. He said the government is still considering whether to accept offers of help from other countries.



The government has ordered some 140,000 people in the vicinity to stay indoors. A little radiation was also detected in Tokyo, triggering panic buying of food and water.

There are six reactors at the plant. Units 1, 2 and 3, which were operating last week, shut down automatically when the quake hit. Since then, all three have been rocked by explosions. Compounding the problems, on Tuesday a fire broke out in Unit 4's fuel storage pond, an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool, causing radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere.

Units 4, 5 and 6 were shut at the time of the quake, but even offline reactors have nuclear fuel — either inside the reactors or in storage ponds — that need to be kept cool.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency estimated that 70 percent of the rods have been damaged at the No. 1 reactor.

Japan's national news agency, Kyodo, said that 33 percent of the fuel rods at the No. 2 reactor were damaged and that the cores of both reactors were believed to have partially melted.

"We don't know the nature of the damage," said Minoru Ohgoda, spokesman for the country's nuclear safety agency. "It could be either melting, or there might be some holes in them."

Meanwhile, the outer housing of the containment vessel at the No. 4 unit erupted in flames early Wednesday, said Hajimi Motujuku, a spokesman for the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

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.

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Japan's nightmare gets even WORSE: All THREE damaged nuclear reactors now in 'meltdown' at tsunami-hit power station



By Richard Shears





14th March 2011



  • Fuel rods appear to be melting inside three over-heating reactors


  • Experts class development as 'partial meltdown'

  • Japan calls for U.S. help cooling the reactor

  • 180,000 people have been evacuated amid meltdown fears

The Japanese nuclear reactor hit by the tsunami went into 'meltdown' today, as officials admitted that fuel rods appear to be melting inside three damaged reactors.

There is a risk that molten nuclear fuel can melt through the reactor's safety barriers and cause a serious radiation leak.

There have already been explosions inside two over-heating reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, and the fuel rods inside a third were partially exposed as engineers desperately fight to keep them cool after the tsunami knocked out systems.

'Meltdown': The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant moments after it was rocked by a second explosion today. Officials later admitted that fuel rods are 'highly likely' to be melting in three damaged reactors

'Meltdown': The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant moments after it was rocked by a second explosion today. Officials later admitted that fuel rods are 'highly likely' to be melting in three damaged reactors


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Third Reactor Explodes, Full Scale Nuclear Catastrophe Imminent



Kurt Nimmo

Infowars.com

March 14, 2011



A third reactor has exploded at the number 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. The blast follows an explosion Monday morning at the number 3 reactor and one on Saturday in the number 1 unit.







The Tokyo Electric Power Company had tried a last ditch effort to cool and reduce pressure in the over-heated reactors in units one and three by injecting seawater earlier today and over the weekend.





On Monday, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano officially announced the cooling system on the third reactor had failed. The water level inside the reactor fell and exposed the fuel rods at its core for more than two hours despite efforts to pump seawater into the reactor, he said.





Government officials have finally admitted to the public that the fuel rods in all three separate reactors have started to melt despite repeated efforts to cool them with sea water. Safety officials are now saying they cannot rule out a full meltdown and the inevitability of a nuclear catastrophe of a magnitude never before experienced.

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Fox News interviewed nuclear power expert Joe Cirincione, who says the likelihood of America having a similar fate is very, very possible.



Media Explores Worst-Case Scenarios

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Japan Nuclear Disaster Already One of the Worst We Have Ever Seen U.S. Expert says March 2011

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Radiation From Fukushima Would Take 7 Days To Reach U.S.



Paul Joseph Watson

Infowars.com

March 14, 2011

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Radioactive particles from the stricken Fukushima nuclear facility would take around a week to reach Alaska and eleven days to reach Los Angeles, according to an Accuweather.com analysis, which highlights the fact that prevailing winds over the region would send any potential fallout from the crisis-hit plant drifting towards west coast cities in the United States..



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Given the fact that many analysts believe the Japanese government is grossly understating the amount of radioactive particles released by the two separate explosions to affect the Fukushima plant, one which occurred Saturday and one earlier today, monitoring stations in Alaska will not know if there is a threat from such radiation until Saturday at the earliest.

“Radiation detected at the Fukushima plant on Monday is twice the maximum seen so far,” the BBC is reporting, citing Kyodo News.

An Accuweather.com analysis highlights how prevailing wind trajectories would take the radiation from a westerly direction towards the west coast of the United States.

“A typical wind trajectory across the Pacific is westerly, since there is often a large dome of high pressure over the central Pacific and an area of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska,” writes meteorologist Meghan Evans.

Today’s localized winds are set to carry any radiation out into the Pacific from a north westerly to south easterly direction. However, “The wind direction will switch to an onshore direction Monday night into Tuesday, threatening to send the radiation toward the population,” writes Evans.

Radiation From Fukushima Would Take 7 Days To Reach U.S. 140311top1



“This is not good news, since an onshore direction would blow most of the radiation toward populated areas. An added threat is that with higher elevations just about 4 miles inland from the power plants, if a temperature inversion sets up in the atmosphere, radiation could be trapped.”

The worst case scenario is that localized winds could take the fallout south to Tokyo, and the prevailing westerly winds could also carry upper atmosphere particles towards the U.S.

It would take roughly seven days for the radiation to reach Anchorage, eight days until it reached Honolulu, ten days for Seattle and eleven days before it hit Los Angeles, according to figures calculated by Expert Senior Global Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

Assurances from officials that any radiation would dissipate over the Pacific Ocean before reaching the United States are tenuous given the fact that pollution from Chinese coal factories, traveling significantly greater distances, routinely hits California.

“Previous studies have documented that dust from Asia — especially from deserts and industrial regions of China — routinely crosses the Pacific Ocean on prevailing winds to sully the air over the western U.S.,” highlights Massie Santos Ballon, a student in the Science Communication Program at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has also studied how, “About a third of the airborne lead particles recently collected at two sites in the San Francisco Bay Area came from Asia.”

Weather conditions will hugely influence where any potential radiation falls. If there is a significant amount of rainfall, which has been forecast for the next few days, the majority of the radiation will fall in a localized area. However, drier conditions will allow any radiation to travel much further.

As we featured in our earlier report, nuclear expert Joe Cirincione also fears that radiation from the Japanese nuclear plant could also reach the west coast.

When Fox News host Chris Wallace questioned whether radioactivity could travel thousands of miles across the Pacific, Cirincione responded, “Oh, absolutely. Chernobyl, which happened about 25 years ago, the radioactivity spread around the entire northern hemisphere. It depends how many of these cores melt down and how successful they are on containing it once this disaster happens.”

Concern surrounding the likely path of any radiation is emphasized by the fact that the French embassy is now, “Advising its citizens to leave Tokyo and its surroundings in case a cloud of radiation heads to the city.”



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SECOND EXPLOSION

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Nuclear Expert: Radiation Could Spread To US West Coast

Fukushima crisis escalates after second explosion, officials admit reactor rods have been fully exposed

Paul Joseph Watson

Prison Planet.com



Monday, March 14, 2011

Nuclear expert Joe Cirincione warns that radiation from Japan’s multiple potential nuclear meltdowns could spread to the US west coast and that the threat represents an “unprecedented crisis,” as another explosion rocked the Fukushima complex and officials admitted that nuclear fuel rods at reactor number two have been fully exposed.

U.S. Nuclear Expert Radiation Could Reach West Coast From Japan Meltdown March 2011

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“The worst case scenario is that the fuel rods fuse together, the temperatures get so hot that they melt together in a radioactive molten mass that bursts through the containment mechanisms and is exposed to the outside. So they spew radioactivity in the ground, into the air, into the water. Some of the radioactivity could carry in the atmosphere to the West Coast of the United States,” Cirincione told Fox News.

When host Chris Wallace questioned whether radioactivity could travel thousands of miles across the Pacific, Cirincione responded, “Oh, absolutely. Chernobyl, which happened about 25 years ago, the radioactivity spread around the entire northern hemisphere. It depends how many of these cores melt down and how successful they are on containing it once this disaster happens.”

“One reactor has had half the core exposed already,” explained Cirincione. “This is the one they’re flooding with sea water in a desperate effort to prevent it from a complete meltdown. They lost control of a second reactor next to it, a partial meltdown, and there is actually a third reactor at a related site 20-kilometers away they have also lost control over. We have never had a situation like this before.”

Fears that the radiation could reach the United States have prompted the California Department of Public Health to issue a statement saying they are assessing the situation and that they have radioactivity monitoring systems in place for air, water and the food supply.

As the Washington Blog has documented, pollution from Chinese coal factories routinely hits California.

But it’s not just the west coast that could be affected. According to Yoichi Shimatsu, former editor of the Japan Times, “In the event of a major meltdown and continuous large-volume radioactive release, airborne particles will be carried across the ocean in bands that will cross over the southern halves of Oregon, Montana and Idaho, all of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, the Dakotas, northern Nebraska and Iowa and ending in Wisconsin and Illinois, with possible further eastward drift depending on surface wind direction.”



Shimatsu now states that after a high-level government meeting, “Japanese agencies are no longer releasing independent reports without prior approval from the top,” and that censorship of what is really occurring at the plant is being overseen under the Article 15 Emergency Law.

Following dramatic footage of another blast, this time affecting Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor 3, which shot plumes of smoke high into the air, officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. have conceded that fuel rods at the facility’s reactor number 2 have been fully exposed, threatening a complete meltdown.

The Pentagon has also confirmed that radiation particles were detected by helicopters flying 160km (100 miles) away from the nuclear plant, suggesting widespread environmental contamination. The discovery of the two radioactive isotopes, cesium-137 and iodine-121, can only mean one thing, according to the Seattle Times: “One or more of the reactor cores is badly damaged and at least partially melted down.”

“If true, this also means that the Japanese government is blatantly lying to its people and the world, in its relentless determination to prevent panic and to pursue the party line that after two massive blasts the cores are still stable,” writes Tyler Durden. “And judging by the time stamp, this was announced before last night’s second blast: if radioactivity had spread then, how about now? And who can blame Americans and people around the world who are concerned that radiation may be coming their way if nobody is to be trusted.”

Reports are also circulating that sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan were exposed to radiation doses equivalent to a month’s worth in one hour when they sailed into a radiation cloud off the coast of Japan.

All the evidence clearly indicates that the Japanese government is covering up the true scale of the disaster in an effort to prevent hysteria from engulfing a population already devastated by last week’s earthquake and tsunami, not to mention ongoing powerful aftershocks that continue to spread terror.

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Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show. Watson has been interviewed by many publications and radio shows, including Vanity Fair and Coast to Coast AM, America’s most listened to late night talk show.






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