Super-Typhoon Neoguri Bares Down On Japan (Video)

Super Typhoon Takes Aim At Japan, Emergency Warnings Issued – Reuters

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Japan’s weather agency on Monday issued emergency warnings to urge people in the country’s southern islands to take maximum precautions as a super typhoon described as a “once in decades storm” is set to rake the Okinawa island chain with heavy rain and powerful winds.

Typhoon Neoguri was already gusting at more than 250 km an hour (150 mph) and may pick up still more power as it moves northwest, growing into an “extremely intense” storm by Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) said.

But it was not expected to be as strong as Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands in the Philippines last year.

The JMA issued emergency storm and high sea warnings for Japan’s small southern island of Miyakojima, some 300 km (188 miles) southwest of Okinawa island, and for a smaller nearby islet.

The agency said on Monday evening it also planned to issue an emergency high sea warning for Okinawa island, host to three-quarters of U.S. military facilities in Japan.

“In these regions, there is a chance of the kinds of storms, high seas, storm surges and heavy rains that you’ve never experienced before,” a JMA official told a news conference.

“This is an extraordinary situation, where a grave danger is approaching.”

The storm was south of Okinawa but moving northwest at 25 kph (16 mph) with sustained winds of 180 kph (110 mph) by 7:00 p.m. (1000 GMT), the JMA said on its web site.

The JMA official urged people in the target areas to evacuate early and take precautions. Television showed fishermen winching their boats out of the water.

There are no nuclear plants on Okinawa, but there are two on Kyushu, Japan’s westernmost main island that lies in the area through which the typhoon is likely to pass, and one on Shikoku island, which borders Kyushu and could also be affected.

All are halted in line with current national policy. A spokeswoman at Kyushu Electric Power Co said there were no specific plans related to this typhoon but the company had plans in place year-round to protect the plants from severe weather.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, is on the other side of the country, which is likely to see rain, at the worst.

Keiji Furuya, state minister in charge of Disaster Management, cancelled a planned trip to the United States.

The commander at Kadena Air Base, one of the largest U.S. military establishments on Okinawa, warned that damaging winds were expected by early Tuesday.

“I can’t stress enough how dangerous this typhoon may be when it hits Okinawa,” Brigadier General James Hecker wrote on the base’s Facebook page on Sunday. “This is not just another typhoon.”

Around two to four typhoons a year make landfall in Japan but they are unusual in July.

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B-52’s “violate” Chinese air space, China whines

I cannot believe Team Obama actually let this happen

In an escalating standoff reminiscent of the Cold War, China on Tuesday responded angrily to news that two U.S. B-52 bombers had flown over a contested chain of islands in the East China Sea without first alerting Beijing — just days after China unilaterally announced an expanded air-defense zone around the islands.

The Pentagon’s sudden dispatch of the bombers was meant as a show of support for close ally Japan, which is in a protracted sovereignty dispute with China over the islands. But the move risks escalating an already heated situation, according to an editorial posted on the website of China Daily, a state-supported newspaper known to closely track Beijing’s official positions on such matters.

“The Japanese and U.S. hysteria is unnecessary, and potentially dangerous, because it is based on a serious misreading, if not intentional distortion, of Chinese strategic purposes,” states the editorial, which claimed Washington has no legitimate basis for challenging the new air-defense zone, known in Chinese military parlance as an Air Defense Identification Zone, or “ADIZ.”

“Dozens of countries, including Japan and the United States, have their own ADIZs. And the US, as the inventor of such zones, should be well aware of their defensive nature,” the editorial states. “If the world’s sole superpower, with an unrivaled military, needs multiple ADIZs to fend off perceived threats, why should China not need any?”

Publication of the editorial came as The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Washington had dispatched the two B-52 bombers from Guam Monday evening specifically to challenge the Chinese claim to exclusive control of the airspace.

China is testing us, I pray we have the resolve not to blink

 

7.3 magnitude quake strikes Fukushima in Japan

Pray for those hurt by this natural disaster, 

An earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale has occurred off the north east coast of Japan in the Fukishima prefecture, The United States Geological Survey reports.

Japanese authorities have issued a Tsunami advisory for the area. USGS is reporting that the earthquake was at a depth of 10 kilometers and was felt as far south as Tokyo.

 

 

Again, the United States negotiates from a weak position

Good Grief!

Secretary of State John Kerry flew to China on Saturday and sought to elicit China’s help in dealing with an increasingly recalcitrant nuclear armed North Korea by saying that American missile defenses could be cut back if the North abandoned its nuclear program.

Mr. Kerry’s trip to China, his first since taking office, is part of an intensive three-day push to try to calm tensions on the Korean Peninsula that have threatened to spiral out of control and rattled world leaders.

In a news conference, Mr. Kerry suggested that the United States could remove some newly enhanced missile defenses in the region, though he did not specify which ones. Any eventual cutback would address Chinese concerns about the buildup of American weapons systems in the region.

China has zero to fear from US missiles, unless they try something they should not, and China knows it. Here is how I handle this. I tell the Norks that ANY attack on us, or South Korea or Japan, will be met with an overwhelmingly violent response. Further, I let them know that continued threats will be taken seriously, and that we WILL strike them the very next time they issue a direct threat, PERIOD! I tell China that they know, and we know that our missiles will ONLY be used in defense, so we have absolutely no plans to cut anything back.

Call it the Hagin Doctrine. We walk softly, we will carry a big stick, and if we are ever forced to use that stick, we will use it with such devastating force that no one will ever even want to think about screwing with us or our allies again. Of course if I were president John Kerry would not only not be in any position of authority, he would not even be allowed to shovel Rino dung, but that is another post altogether.

What to do about North Korea?

As I have said before, right here, on this very blog, I would say it on Fox News but they do not have the good sense to call, I would have a simple response to the North Korean threats. As president, any direct and credible threat against us or our allies, would be met with a severe response. How serious? Well, let’s just say that we know where North Korea has bases, and those would serve as worthy target practice for our military. In other words, my doctrine would be, you threaten to attack us, we annihilate your ability to carry out that threat. If you do not like that, then do not threaten us or our allies. 

Now, such a foreign policy would draw condemnation, and several strongly worded letters from the Useless Nations, and the “global community” would be outrageously outraged. can you think of two better reasons to adopt such a policy? The Other McCain has a similar plan

 

As a Neutral Objective Journalist, I was able to write a brief news summary of this story without sharing my personal opinion of the Commie dictatorship in Pyongyang, but speaking as a God-Fearing Red-Blooded American, there can be no doubt. If it were up to me, North Korea would be reduced to radioactive vapor and smoldering cinders, and if you disagree with that policy, I question your patriotism.

Of course, nuking Pyongyang to Kingdom Come would be just the start of The McCain Doctrine — if those Reds in Havana don’t take the hint, I say we send a couple of carrier task forces and a divison or two of Marines to finish the job that should have been finished in April 1961.

See, slightly different takes, but I think we can work with either one

This is certainly not encouraging

Not encouraging at all

(Boston Globe) — America’s top military officer in charge of monitoring hostile actions by North Korea, escalating tensions between China and Japan, and a spike in computer attacks traced to China provides an unexpected answer when asked what is the biggest long-term security threat in the Pacific region: climate change.

Navy Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, in an interview at a Cambridge hotel Friday after he met with scholars at Harvard and Tufts universities, said significant upheaval related to the warming planet “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

“People are surprised sometimes,” he added, describing the reaction to his assessment. “You have the real potential here in the not-too-distant future of nations displaced by rising sea level. Certainly weather patterns are more severe than they have been in the past. We are on super typhoon 27 or 28 this year in the Western Pacific. The average is about 17.”

Good Grief!

 

Report: Island Ownership Dispute Could Lead To War Between China, Japan

Report: Island Ownership Dispute Could Lead To War Between China, Japan – Big Peace

The Senkakus Islands off the coast of Japan have become a point of contention that may draw the U.S and Japan into war with China in 2013.

According to reports, the islands are claimed by both Japan and China – China calls them the Diaoyu Islands – and the tensions over them are so great that Japan’s incoming Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has suspended the stationing of Japanese officials on the islands in order to stave off further conflict.

While there has been no explicit explanation for the focus on the islands, it is believed China has seized on them as a way to push back against growing U.S. involvement in Asia. To this end, China’s goal may be to drive a wedge between Tokyo and the Obama administration and get the U.S. to pressure Tokyo into giving up claim to the islands.

There seems to be an underlying belief on China’s part that if they keep pushing, the U.S. will eventually buckle and ask Japan to join them in capitulating.

And while a spectator to these events may be surprised at the audaciousness of China, others believe China is simply using the leverage they’ve created by nurturing an economic environment that makes it difficult for the U.S. to buck Beijing.

Suffice it to say, the tensions are multifaceted.

As of right now, America wants to hold to the power it enjoys in Asia, Japan doesn’t want to appear like a pushover to China, and China doesn’t want to give an inch to either country. It seems the only thing these three divergent views have in common is war.

Click HERE For Rest Of Story

You know, if I ever visit Japan…….

There are several nations I would like to visit, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Scotland, Ireland, and Japan being some. But, if I ever visit Japan, I will avoid taking a bath at all costs. Why? Well, Bill Quick explains that baths seem to be dangerous in Japan

Three times more Japanese die in bathtubs than car wrecks.

Japan’s health ministry is to launch an investigation into bath-time fatalities after it was estimated that 14,000 people die every year in the tub – three times as many as those who died in car accidents.

According to the figures, 4,612 people died as a result of traffic accidents across the nation in 2011.

That’s funny. I’d always assumed that a bunch of folks that could build such safe vehicles would have that whole ‘tub of warm water’ thing under control.

But, no. And guess who might just have to step in?…

Authorities are being urged to draw up guidelines on how to take a bath safely, encouraging people to avoid excessive changes in temperatures, gradually and carefully soaking oneself in hot water and drinking lots of fluids.

Well, I guess this ruins my fantasy of being bathed by beautiful Japanese women! DAMN!

21-foot-python found next to japanese mans dead body but did it kill him

Why people keep extremely dangerous”pets” is beyond me.Via The Blaze

Police in urban Japan on Monday were probing the death of a man whose body was found next to a 21-foot (6.5-meter) python.

Shoji Fujita, 66, was found dead outside his home in Ushiku city, 30 miles northeast of Tokyo, with a reticulated python next to him, a local police spokesman said.

Fujita was found with bite marks and bleeding but given that pythons are non-venoumous that squeeze prey to death, his cause of death is still being officially determined.

 

Your blog headline of the day

Is this jewel, If America is ever attacked by an army of pregnant women, they’ll be prepared. It comes from Doug Powers

Seriously?

CAMP ZAMA, Japan – The Army is ordering its hardened combat veterans to wear fake breasts and empathy bellies so they can better understand how pregnant soldiers feel during physical training.

This week, 14 noncommissioned officers at Camp Zama took turns wearing the “pregnancy simulators” as they stretched, twisted and exercised during a three-day class that teaches them to serve as fitness instructors for pregnant soldiers and new mothers.

Army enlisted leaders all over the world are being ordered to take the Pregnancy Postpartum Physical Training Exercise Leaders Course, or PPPT, according to U.S. Army Medical Activity Japan health promotion educator Jana York.

Wow,just wow.

Your blog headline of the day

Comes to us from Stacy McCain, who describes Chris Matthews to a T!

Chris Matthews: Exceptionally Idiotic

ABSOLUTELY perfect! Matthews is a person who I would describe as educated beyond their hat size, meaning that no matter how much knowledge they gain, their mind is too feeble to retain any of the knowledge. Anyway, McCain continues in classic fashion, responding to  Matthews statement that “Sometimes I think the critics of the president are just clearly unfair when they say he doesn’t love this country,” says Chris Matthews, anchor of MSNBC’s “Hardball” program in one of the “Lean Forward” ads directed by Spike Lee.

“And here’s a guy of mixed background, and he said ‘Only in this country, my country, is this story possible.’ I think that was the greatest testament to American exceptionalism. I don’t think that you can say that in Japan or in China. You can’t go these countries and become Chinese.”

This is a mantra Matthews and his Leftist cohorts use a lot! To them, Obama is special because of his race, more than any other reason. This is a big reason that they always claim any criticism of Obama is raaaaacist! They are totally obsessed with his race, so everyone else must be too right? Talk about a classic case of Racial Obsession Syndrome! But what of the claim that those who question the president’s patriotism are being unfair? McCain lays into this nonsense

The first objection is this: Which critics are saying Obama “doesn’t love this country”? Can Chris Matthews produce a list of such people, with relevant quotations? But if Obama’s critics are saying this, isn’t the accusation in some sense fair?

“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America,” Obama told a cheering crowd on Oct. 29, 2008. If he loves America so much, why the need for fundamental transformation? How can you, on the one hand, be a patriotic believer in “American exceptionalism” and then expect people to cheer when you proclaim you are intent on “fundamentally transforming” America? There is a discordance between these two ideas.

To be clear, Obama’s entire campaign was based on Hop and Change. The Change part centering on bringing that fundamental change to America. And, as president, Obama has, indeed, done his level best to change our nation. He has done his best to move far away from the founding ideals of men like Madison, Jefferson and Franklin. He has changed, and radically so, our heath care system, he has brought radical change to our energy policies, our economy, and clearly wants to do more to redistribute wealth, or “spread the wealth around, as Obama puts it. His reasons for this push? To bring what he deems “fairness” to our nation, because, as he has said, “art some point, you have made enough money”.

Frankly, it sounds to me that those questioning Obama’s belief in the greatness of our nation have more than ample cause for their concerns.

Daily Benefactor News – Security Level 7: Japan Ups Nuke Crisis Severity To Match Chernobyl

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Security Level 7: Japan Ups Nuke Crisis Severity To Match Chernobyl – The Blaze

Japan’s nuclear regulators raised the severity level of the crisis at a stricken nuclear plant Tuesday to rank it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

An official with the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, speaking on national television, said the rating was being raised from 5 to 7 – the highest level on the international scale.

The official, who was not named, said the amount of radiation leaking from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant was around 10 percent of the Chernobyl accident.

The level 7 signifies a “major accident” with “wider consequences” than the previous level, according to the standards scale.

“We have upgraded the severity level to 7 as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean,” said Minoru Oogoda of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

NISA officials said one of the factors behind the decision was that the total amount of radioactive particles released into the atmosphere since the incident had reached levels that apply to a Level 7 incident.

The action lifts the rating to the highest on an international scale designed by an international group of experts in 1989 and is overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

In Chernobyl, in the Ukraine, a reactor exploded on April 26, 1986, spewing a cloud of radiation over much of the Northern Hemisphere. A zone about 19 miles (30 kilometers) around the plant was declared uninhabitable, although some plant workers still live there for short periods and a few hundred other people have returned despite government encouragement to stay away.

Meanwhile, setbacks continued at Japan’s tsunami-stricken nuclear power complex, with workers discovering a small fire near a reactor building Tuesday. The fire was extinguished quickly, the plant’s operator said.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the disabled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, said the fire at a box that contains batteries in a building near the No. 4 reactor was discovered at about 6:38 a.m. Tuesday and was put out seven minutes later.

It wasn’t clear whether the fire was related to a magnitude-6.3 earthquake that shook the Tokyo area Tuesday morning. The cause of the fire is being investigated.

“The fire was extinguished immediately. It has no impact on Unit 4?s cooling operations for the spent fuel rods,” said TEPCO spokesman Naoki Tsunoda.

The plant was damaged in a massive tsunami March 11 that knocked out cooling systems and backup diesel generators, leading to explosions at three reactors and a fire at a fourth that was undergoing regular maintenance and was empty of fuel.

The magnitude-9.0 earthquake that caused the tsunami immediately stopped the three reactors, but overheated cores and a lack of cooling functions led to further damage.

Engineers have been able to pump water into the damaged reactors to cool them down, but leaks have resulted in the pooling of tons of contaminated, radioactive water that has prevented workers from conducting further repairs.

Aftershocks on Monday briefly cut power to backup pumps, halting the injection of cooling water for about 50 minutes before power was restored.

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Fukushima Disaster Updates For 04/06/11

Highly Radioactive Water Leaking Into Sea Stops: TEPCO – Nikkei

Tokyo Electric Power Co. succeeded in stopping highly radioactive water from leaking into the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant early Wednesday, while saying it is considering injecting nitrogen to prevent a possible hydrogen explosion from occurring at the No. 1 reactor.

The highly toxic water, confirmed to have been flowing from around a seaside pit located near the No. 2 reactor water intake on Saturday, stopped at 5:38 a.m. after the plant operator injected some 6,000 liters of chemical agents, including what is called water glass.

The government’s nuclear agency said it ordered the utility known as TEPCO to keep monitoring the pit to check whether the water leakage has completely stopped, and noted there is the possibility that the water, which has lost an outlet, may show up from other areas inside the plant’s premises.

The highly radioactive water is believed to have come from the No. 2 reactor core, where fuel rods have partially melted, and ended up in the pit. The pit is connected to the No. 2 reactor turbine building and an underground trench connected to the building, both of which were found to be filled with high levels of contaminated water.

To make room to store the highly radioactive water that is hampering the plant’s restoration work, TEPCO continued the work to dump massive amounts of low-level contaminated water from inside a nuclear waste disposal facility at the site, as well as that found from around the No. 5-6 unit buildings.

TEPCO aims to dispose a total of 11,500 tons of the low-level tainted water into the sea by this weekend from the plant on the coast, a move which has sparked concerns from neighboring countries.

Opening up the nuclear waste disposal facility may end as early as Wednesday, the nuclear agency said. The move would be followed by some repair work to make sure the facility can keep highly radioactive water safely without fear of the stored liquid leaking outside.

Meanwhile, TEPCO said it may inject nitrogen into the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel possibly later Wednesday.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said the move is considered with the aim to stop a possible hydrogen explosion ”in advance” and that it does not mean there is an ”immediate danger.”

The nitrogen injection process is expected to take several days, and may lead to the release of radioactive substances in the air.

Due to the magnitude-9.0 quake and ensuing tsunami, the plant’s power grid and most of the emergency diesel generators were knocked out, resulting in the loss of many of the reactors’ key cooling functions, partial melting of reactors cores and hydrogen explosions.

The utility has been pouring massive amounts of water into the reactors and their spent nuclear fuel pools as a stopgap measure to cool them down. But the measure is apparently connected to the massive amount of contaminated water found in various places at its premises, which TEPCO is now struggling to remove.

A seawater sample taken near the No. 2 reactor water intake Saturday showed a radioactive iodine-131 concentration of 7.5 million times the maximum level permitted under law, or about 300,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter.

As the first case of contamination levels in seafood have exceeded the limit, radioactive cesium over the limit was detected in young launce in the sea near the northern part of Ibaraki Prefecture.

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Fukushima Radiation: Modeling Shows Limited Spread In Ocean – AAAS

Daily computer simulations are suggesting that, so far, the hazardous radioactive materials being released into the sea by the Fukushima nuclear plants are still largely restricted to areas near the coast. In the model being run by French researchers, the powerful Kuroshiro current – the Pacific’s version of the Gulf Stream – tends to block contaminated seawater from flowing southward toward Tokyo Bay while picking up little contamination itself.

Figuring out where Fukushima radioactivity is going involves all the complexities and uncertainties that plagued early efforts to model the meanderings of oil last summer in the Gulf of Mexico, and then some, says ocean modeler Claude Estournel. She is a member of the SIROCCO group at the University of Toulouse in France running the SYMPHONIE-NH ocean model under the auspices of the French national research agency CNRS.

The International Atomic Energy Agency requested that the group run its model centered on the Fukushima plant on the coast northeast of Tokyo. The resulting daily simulations posted on the Web are rife with uncertainties, Estournel cautions, so that the group is presenting only “scenarios of dispersion” that provide an “orders of magnitude” idea of the actual amounts of radionuclides in the sea.

Caveats aside, the modeling is strongly confirming oceanographers’ intuition. The highest concentrations in the model are still within 5 kilometers or so of shore but have been carried up to 50 kilometers north and south by wind-driven currents. That contamination was released directly into the sea.

Radionuclides first released into the atmosphere only to fall into the sea are 20 to 100 times less concentrated but spread more widely, spanning 600 kilometers along the shore and reaching 150 kilometers offshore. In the model, concentrations are 1000 times lower than near Fukushima in the Kuroshiro as it shears off the southern extent of contamination and heads east into the Pacific. The modeling will guide Japanese authorities as they scramble to sample the expanse of ocean liable to contamination.

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Japan First Quake Reconstruction Budget To Exceed 3 Trillion Yen – The Hindu

The Japanese government plans to draw up a supplementary budget of more than 3 trillion yen (35 billion dollars) in about 10 days to finance measures to help rebuild areas ravaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, news reports said on Wednesday.

The money is to go to clearing rubble, building temporary housing, and restoring public facilities and infrastructure, the Kyodo News agency reported, citing a blueprint for the budget. The draft said the government would not depend on issuing bonds to fund the supplementary spending in the country with the world’s largest public debt. Its debt is nearly twice the size of its approximately 5-trillion-yen economy.

Instead of bonds, about 2.5 trillion yen for the first extra budget for this financial year, which began Friday, is to come from funds originally earmarked to maintain the government’s contributions to basic pensions at 50 per cent, Kyodo said. The rest is to be generated by scrapping some of the Democratic Party of Japan – led government’s key policies, such as increasing monthly child allowances and introducing more toll – free highways, Kyodo reported. But some party lawmakers were opposed to shelving some of their major policies.

Last month’s magnitude-9 quake, the largest every recorded in Japan, and the tsunami it unleashed on the east coast killed a confirmed 12,468 people, but as of Wednesday, another 15,091 people were listed as missing, Japan’s National Police Agency said.

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Japan Quake Forces Shutdown Of All US Toyota Plants – Gather

A spokesperson for the Toyota Motor Corporation has announced a temporary shut down of all of its North American factories. This shut down is due to the shortage of car parts following the Japan quake and tsunami, which damaged auto parts plants in Northeastern Japan.

This news will certainly be devastating for the 25,000 Toyota workers, who will be sent home until parts production can restart in Japan. These employees will be forced to use their vacation pay or take time off without pay, which will most definitely be difficult for those with families depending on their income.

According to a CBS News report, a spokesperson for Toyota, Mike Goss, said, “We’re going to get to a point this month where that gap in the pipeline starts to show up. So we’ll have to suspend production for a while.” While Toyota only gets about 15 percent of their parts from Japan, “you have to have them all to build the vehicles!”

Many American companies, who have outsourced parts of their manufacturing to Japan, are feeling the ripple effect following the quake. Unfortunately, it could take years for Japan to recover from the devastation that ravished the area.

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Daily Benefactor News – Japan Backs Off Venting Of Leaking Reactor

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Japan Backs Off Venting Of Leaking Reactor – News On Japan

The operator of Japan’s overheating, leaking nuclear plant backed off a tricky venting of radioactive gas from a troubled reactor Sunday as concerns grew about wider contamination of food and water.

After the cascading troubles at the Fukushima plant appeared to lessen Saturday, pressure inside the vessel holding the reactor of Unit 3 rose again Sunday, dealing a setback to the government and forcing officials to consider the dangerous venting. Nuclear safety officials said one of the options could release a cloud dense with iodine as well as the radioactive elements krypton and xenon.

The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., temporarily suspended the plans Sunday after the pressure inside the reactor stopped climbing, though it was at a relatively high level.

“It has stabilized,” Tokyo Electric manager Hikaru Kuroda told reporters. Kuroda said temperatures inside the reactor reached 572 Fahrenheit (300 degrees Centrigrade) and the option to release the highly radioactive gas inside – a maneuver he called a “dry vent” – is still under consideration if pressure rises.

The higher reactor pressure may have been caused by a tactic meant to reduce temperatures – the pumping of seawater into the vessel, Kuroda said.

Using seawater to douse Unit 3 and the plant’s five other reactor vessels or their nuclear fuel storage pools was a desperate measure since it’s corrosive, damaging the finely milled machine parts. The government acknowledged Sunday that the entire complex would be scrapped once the emergency is resolved.

“It is obviously clear that Fukushima Dai-ichi in no way will be in a condition to be restarted,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.

Growing concerns about radiation add to the overwhelming chain of disasters Japan has struggled with since the 9.0-magnitude quake. The quake spawned a tsunami that ravaged the northeastern coast, killing more than 8,100 people, leaving 12,000 people missing, and displacing another 452,000, who are living in shelters.

Fuel, food and water remain scarce for a 10th day in the disaster. The government in recent days acknowledged being caught ill-prepared by an enormous disaster that the prime minister has called the worst crisis since World War II.

Before the disasters, safety drills were seldom if ever practiced and information about radiation exposure rarely given in Futuba, a small town in the shadow of the nuclear plant, according to 29-year-old Tsugumi Hasegawa. In the aftermath, she is living in a shelter with her 4-year-old daughter and feeling bewildered.

“I still have no idea what the numbers they are giving about radiation levels mean. It’s all so confusing. And I wonder if they aren’t playing down the dangers to keep us from panicking. I don’t know who to trust,” said Hasegawa, crammed with 1,400 people into a gymnasium on the outskirts of Fukushima city, 80 miles (50 miles) away.

Another nuclear safety official acknowledged Sunday that the government only belatedly realized the need to give potassium iodide to those living within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the nuclear complex.

The pills help reduce the chances of thyroid cancer, one of the diseases that may develop from radiation exposure. The official, Kazuma Yokota, said the explosion that occurred while venting the plant’s Unit 3 reactor last Sunday should have triggered the distribution. But the order only came three days later.

“We should have made this decision and announced it sooner,” Yokota told reporters at the emergency command center in the city of Fukushima. “It is true that we had not foreseen a disaster of these proportions. We had not practiced or trained for something this bad. We must admit that we were not fully prepared.”

Contamination of food and water compounds the government’s difficulties, heightening the broader public’s sense of dread about safety. Consumers in markets snapped up bottled water, shunned spinach from Ibaraki – the prefecture where the tainted spinach was found – and overall express concern about food safety.

Experts have said the amounts of iodine detected in milk, spinach and water pose no discernible risks to public health unless consumed in enormous quantities over a long period of time. Edano, the government spokesman, tried to reassure the public for a second day running Sunday.

“If you eat it once, or twice or even for several days, it’s not just that it’s not an immediate threat to health, it’s that even in the future it is not a risk,” Edano said. “Experts say there is no threat to human health.”

No contamination has been reported in Japan’s main food export – seafood – worth about $3.3 billion a year, less than 0.5 percent of its total exports. But the island of Taiwan, just to the south and a huge market for Japanese goods, said Sunday that radiation had been detected in a batch of Japanese fava beans but at levels too small to harm human health.

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Status Of Reactors At Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants As Of 03/16/11

Status Of Reactors At Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants As Of 03/16/11 – Japan Today

The following is the known status as of Wednesday evening of each of the six reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the four reactors at the Fukushima No. 2 plant, both in Fukushima Prefecture, which were crippled by Friday’s magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the ensuing tsunami.

Fukushima No. 1 plant

—Reactor No. 1 – Suspended after quake, cooling failure, partial melting of core, vapor vented, building damaged Saturday by hydrogen explosion, seawater being pumped in.

—Reactor No. 2 – Suspended after quake, cooling failure, seawater being pumped in, fuel rods fully exposed temporarily, vapor vented, building housing reactor damaged Monday by blast at reactor No. 3, damage to containment vessel on Tuesday, potential meltdown feared.

—Reactor No. 3 – Suspended after quake, cooling failure, partial melting of core feared, vapor vented, seawater being pumped in, building housing reactor damaged Monday by hydrogen explosion, high-level radiation measured nearby on Tuesday, plume of smoke observed Wednesday, damage to containment vessel likely.

—Reactor No. 4 – Under maintenance when quake struck, fire Tuesday possibly caused by hydrogen explosion at pool holding spent fuel rods, abnormal temperature rise in spent-fuel storage pool but water level not observed, fire observed Wednesday at building housing reactor, no water poured in to cool pool, spraying of boric acid being considered.

—Reactors No. 5, No. 6 – Under maintenance when quake struck, temperatures slightly rising in spent-fuel storage pools.

Fukushima No. 2 plant

—Reactors No. 1, No. 2, No. 4 – Suspended after quake, cooling failure, then cold shutdown.

—Reactor No. 3 – Suspended after quake, cold shutdown

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Daily Benefactor News – Fear The Media Meltdown, Not The Nuclear One

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Fear The Media Meltdown, Not The Nuclear One – Pajamas Media

The March 11 earthquake off the coast of Japan has been an unprecedented disaster. Now estimated to have been a magnitude 9 earthquake – one of the top five earthquakes measured since reporting started in 1900 – it was the result of a “megathrust” in which an area of sea floor bigger than the state of Connecticut broke free and moved under the force of colliding tectonic plates. It was so strong that it literally moved the entire island of Honshu eight feet to the east. The earthquake was then followed by a tsunami comparable to the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 – but since the epicenter of the quake was only a few miles off the coast of Japan, the tsunami struck the heavily populated coast of Honshu with almost no warning, basically washing many coastal villages off the face of the earth.

The earthquake and tsunami seriously damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi (“number one”) and Daini (“number two”) in Okuma, in Fukushima Prefecture, and also damaged the Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture. In total, of the 55 nuclear power generation plants in Japan, 11 have been forced to shut down, cutting power generation capacity in Japan dramatically and forcing the country to adopt a series of rolling blackouts. It would seem impossible to overstate the severity of the crisis.

The media, however, has risen to the challenge, with a combination of poor information, ignorance, and alarmism, along with antinuclear activists passing themselves off as unbiased experts.

Let’s try to make some sense of it all.

Basics of How Reactors Work

The Fukushima plants have several reactors built on the same basic design, either by GE or by Japanese companies licensed by GE. These are all “boiling water” reactors, which means just what it sounds like: the heat of the nuclear reaction boils water; the steam generated is used to drive turbines and thereby generate power. The water in direct contact with the reactor core known as “coolant” is nothing particularly special, just demineralized; water itself isn’t very susceptible to becoming radioactive, but minerals and contaminants in the water can be. If the water is purified, there’s less radioactive waste to deal with.

The cooling water is pumped past the reactor core in normal operation to get the energy with which power is generated, and of course to cool the core. If there’s an accident, the reactor is shut down by inserting the “control rods,” made of some material that absorbs neutrons and so slows the nuclear fission from which the reactor gets its power. Even a shut down reactor continues to need cooling, however; there’s an immense amount of residual heat still left in the reactor core. This means continuing to run the pumps, and of course with the reactor shut down they can’t be run from the reactor’s power, so there are diesel generators as a backup, and batteries as a further backup to the generator.

If all the cooling fails for some reason, the accumulated heat can’t escape; the water boils away, and once it’s gone, the materials that make up the reactor core break down. This is a Bad Thing, because the controls on the reactor fuel also break down; it starts to heat up again. This is what’s called a meltdown. When this happened at Chernobyl, the reactor core quickly became hot enough to vaporize the reactor’s fuel and a good part of the other material around it, leading to an explosion that destroyed the building that housed the reactor.

To prevent that from happening in commercial reactors in the capitalist bloc, the reactor is inside three concentric safety vessels: first, the “boiler” itself; second, a massive steel bottle; and third, an even larger and more massive reinforced steel, concrete, and graphite outer containment vessel. In case of a meltdown, the whole reactor should be contained within the steel secondary containment vessel, but if it’s not, the molten reactor core drops to the graphite floor of the third vessel, where it spreads out across the floor. This causes the reactor to stop, and it can cool naturally. Eventually the pieces can be cleaned up.

This whole structure is then inside a big conventional steel building that is the outside wall of the reactor complex.

What happened at Fukushima Daiichi

The original earthquake hit. Three of the six reactors were in operation, the other three were shut down for scheduled maintenance. The reactors were designed to sustain an earthquake of magnitude 8.2; at magnitude 9, the Honshu quake was 16 times more powerful. This caused the plant to automatically shut down; this was apparently successful, but…

About an hour later, the tsunami hit. The tsunami did two significant things: it destroyed the backup generators that kept the pumps running, and it apparently so contaminated the reserve coolant that it was not only no longer pure, but was so mucked up with the scourings of the tsunami that it couldn’t be safely pumped. At this point, the reactor was in some trouble.

As the reactor heated up, water began to react with the zirconium fuel-rod containers, liberating hydrogen, which started to build up in the boiler. The operators began to vent gases from the reactor to reduce the pressure, liberating the hydrogen into the outer facade building. These gases are mildly radioactive, mainly with nitrogen-16 and several isotopes of xenon, all products of the fission reaction that powers the reactor; apparently they were vented into the outer building in order to slow their dispersion and give them a chance to lose radioactivity.

Hydrogen in combination with the oxygen in the air can be explosive, and at some time after the venting started in reactor 3, the hydrogen in the outer facade exploded, blowing off the walls of upper half of the building and leaving the steel structure exposed. This explosion put six workers in hospital, with various injuries and one apparent heart attack. This was the first spectacular explosion that raised great clouds of white smoke.

This was reported in the New York Times as “radiation poisoning.” No other source has reported this, including the IAEA. Apparently, according to the Times, radiation poisoning breaks arms.

The second explosion was another hydrogen explosion; as before, apparently what was destroyed was the outer building that surrounds the containment, not the containment itself.

Confusion

This is the point at which the media confusion starts. Many stories concentrating on the reactor accidents were illustrated with blazing pictures of a natural gas plant explosion and a burning oil refinery, much more visually impressive than a building with the facade stripped off, but giving the false impression of a blazing inferno at the reactors.

Several headlines said “nuclear explosion,” which is something very different from “an explosion in a nuclear power plant.”

Anti-nuclear politicians like Senator Ed Markey and anti-nuclear activists from groups like the Institute for Policy Studies warned ominously of “another Chernobyl” – which this isn’t and never will be; the reactors are wildly, radically, different in design. (More on this below.)

Television talking heads talked about the “containment building.” Which is strictly true, since the building in which the containment is housed would be the “containment building” – but misleading and confusing, because the containment for all three reactors remained intact.

So there’s the first bottom-line point: at least so far, the inner, steel, containment vessel on all three Fukushima reactors remains intact.

Radiation

When the gases started to be released from the containment vessels, that meant there was some release of radiation. With their usual nuance, the media reported only that there was radiation released; since there was detectable radioactivity on the clothes and bodies of the men injured in the explosion, this apparently turned into “radiation poisoning,” even for the poor guy who had the heart attack.

But how much radiation was really released? There are several ways to measure radiation, but what we’re usually concerned with is the dose received – that is, how much radiation has hit the body of someone who gets exposed. It can be thought of like sunburn – if you’re out in strong sunlight for fifteen minutes, you are getting a “small dose” of sun; four hours, and you get a “big dose” and may get a sunburn.

In the U.S., this is usually measured as Roentgen, named for the discoverer of X-rays. (Strictly, it’s measured as “Roentgen absorbed dose” or rad, and the dose in humans is “Roentgen equivalent in man” or rem, but for our purposes it’s close enough to say 1 Roentgen = 1 rad, = 1 rem.) In the rest of the world, dose is measured in Sievert, with 100 Roentgen to 1 Sievert. A whole-body dose of 6 Sievert or 600 Roentgen is called the “LD 50/30 dose,” meaning that 50 percent of the people who get that dose will die within 30 days.

The highest dose rate – that is, the dose received in a period of time – that was observed around the Fukushima reactors was about 1015 microSeiverts per hour, but rapidly dropped to about 70 microSeiverts per hour. In other words, 0.001015 Sieverts per hour, or about 0.1 Roentgen per hour. The highest total body dose reported so far has been 106 milliSieverts, 0.106 Sieverts, or about 10 Roentgen.

What does this mean? Well, in the U.S., the average background radiation is around 7 milliSieverts (700 milli-Roentgen) a year; we here in Colorado nearly double that (more in some places, like Leadville) and some places have a background radiation of 50 times that or more.

So 1015 microSieverts is pretty significantly above normal background radiation, but that’s not the whole story either. By comparison, a CT scan exposes you to about 5 milliSieverts, 0.5 Roentgen; the total dose of the highest exposure reported has been about 20 CT scans. High altitude commercial flights have more radiation than normal background; 10 Roentgen is about twice what a intercontinental flight attendant gets in a year.

Effects of radiation

There’s no question that the effects of big doses of radiation are pretty awful; various systems break down, you can’t absorb food – in fact, vomiting and diarrhea are some of the first symptoms, along with hair loss – and eventually, your immune system fails and you die as a result of massive infections, or hemorrhaging, or dehydration. These effects are known as acute radiation syndrome, ARS.

Low levels of radiation are another thing. Obviously, we all are exposed to some radiation because of the normal background. The usual model, based on the people affected in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and later Chernobyl, is called a “linear dose response model,” and assumes that if a dose of 100 rem causes there to be 10 percent more deaths in a population, then a dose of 10 rem will mean 1 percent more, 1 rem about 1/10th of one percent more, and so on.

This is a conservative model, but it has a problem – it predicts that places with high background radiation, like Colorado, will have higher cancer rates than places with low background radiation.

What really happens is exactly the opposite – we in Colorado have a lower cancer rate than people at sea level.

Why this would happen is currently unknown, and in any case the rates of cancer are small enough it’s hard to be sure how much of it is due to normal radiation exposure anyway, but there’s certainly some reason to think that the linear dose-response model is too conservative, that some amount of radiation has no particular harmful effect.

What happens, though, is that the model affects how we think about radiation. Very small amounts of radiation are detectable – it’s literally “shining a light” at us, begging to be detected. Following the linear dose response model, there are assumed to be health effects of very small radiation exposures, and that means the regulations require even very very small releases to be reported.

Unfortunately, they tend to be reported as “a very small release of RADIATION.”

Another Chernobyl?

Still, what some people are saying is this is “another Chernobyl.” So let’s talk about Chernobyl for a minute. The accident at Chernobyl was the biggest reactor accident that’s well-known, although probably not the worst reactor accident of any kind. In the Chernobyl accident, a reactor of a radically different design, with a containment building but no containment vessel, overheated and exploded; most sources say the graphite that made up the bulk of the reactor core caught fire, although some sources say the graphite didn’t actually catch fire, combust, it just was very hot. According to the UN report, about 50 people died as a result of the accident, some of them dying from acute radiation syndrome. The highest exposure reported was about 16 Gray – which is another damn unit. There are more physicists than there are things to measure, I guess they have to pack them in somehow. But a Gray is a Sievert, approximately.

That 16 Gray dose is about 1600 Roentgen, 1600-1700 rem, or nearly three times the “lethal” dose. That’s 160 times as great as the worst dose reported from Fukushima.

What’s more, the Chernobyl fire distributed large amounts of radioactive material around – including about 10 tons of the actual reactor core. Unlike the Fukushima reactors, Chernobyl had no containment vessel, so once it was burning it was open to the outside, and diffused easily through the atmosphere, eventually spreading across much of northern Europe and a good bit of western Asia.

At the time of the accident, there were many terrifying predictions of the long-term health effects of the radiation.

The UN investigated these effects, and reported on them, in 2005, 2008, and 2011. The report concludes that there may be as many as 4000 additional deaths total that can be attributed to the effects of Chernobyl, but that’s among all the deaths in one of the most densely populated parts of the world. In other words, the linear dose-response model predicts that perhaps one person in a million might die somewhat earlier than they would have otherwise. Statistically. But we can never know if the prediction is correct.

In fact, the 2005 report says that a much, much bigger effect on public health comes from the rumors and uncertainty:

Alongside radiation-induced deaths and diseases, the report labels the mental health impact of Chernobyl as “the largest public health problem created by the accident” and partially attributes this damaging psychological impact to a lack of accurate information. These problems manifest as negative self-assessments of health, belief in a shortened life expectancy, lack of initiative, and dependency on assistance from the state.

The fatalistic feeling of being doomed leads to passivity, as well as other more significant mental health issues; this is entirely due to poor information and uninformed alarmism.

“Experts” in the media

Now, let’s look at some of the media reports.

One of the first ones I saw (pointed out to me by my PJ colleague Richard Pollock) was this story in Channel News Asia:

Several experts, in a conference call with reporters, also predicted that regardless of the outcome at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant crisis, the accident will seriously damage the nuclear power renaissance.

And who are these experts?

“The situation has become desperate enough that they apparently don’t have the capability to deliver fresh water or plain water to cool the reactor and stabilize it, and now, in an act of desperation, are having to resort to diverting and using sea water,” said Robert Alvarez, who works on nuclear disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Hmm. Robert Alvarez. At the Institute for Policy Studies. Which, according to its web site:

IPS became involved in environmental issues through the anti-nuclear movement, a natural extension of its long history of work on the “national security state.” In 1979, IPS Fellow Saul Landau won an Emmy for his documentary “Paul Jacobs and the Nuclear Gang,” which tells the story of the cover-up by the U.S. nuclear program and of the hazards of radiation to American citizens. In 1985, Fellow William Arkin published Nuclear Battlefields: Global Links in the Arms Race, which helped galvanize anti-nuclear activism through its revelations of the impact of nuclear infrastructure on communities across America.

Anti-nuclear movement? Next?

“It is considered to be extremely unlikely but the station blackout has been one of the great concerns for decades,” said Ken Bergeron, a physicist who has worked on nuclear reactor accident simulation.

Kenneth Bergeron, author of Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power.

I wonder, who else was on this call?

“Joseph Cirincione, the head of the Ploughshares Fund.” This would be the same Ploughshares Fund that:

…supports a global network of experts and advocates who are now poised to realize the vision of a nuclear weapon-free world. We leverage the impact of those funds with our own advocacy, with our ability to raise the profile and visibility of key issues, and by convening and engaging with organizations and leaders in the field.

“Paul Gunter is [sic] the U.S. organization Beyond Nuclear,” which:

…aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abandon both to safeguard our future. Beyond Nuclear advocates for an energy future that is sustainable, benign and democratic. The Beyond Nuclear team works with diverse partners and allies to provide the public, government officials, and the media with the critical information necessary to move humanity toward a world beyond nuclear.

Gunter also, according to ecologia.org:

…is a co-founder of the Clamshell Alliance. A resident of Warner, New Hampshire, he has been arrested at Seabrook for nonviolent civil disobedience on several occasions.

I begin to see a pattern. Google those several names; you’ll find that over and over again, these same four names are being quoted as “nuclear power experts.” All of them closely associated with anti-nuclear organizations.

I wonder if they might have an agenda?

What to make of all this

No one can tell you that there will absolutely not be a catastrophic failure – really catastrophic, like Chernobyl or worse – at one or more of the Fukushima reactors. At the absolutely worst case, some combination of accidents and failures could break through all three major containments and release a large amount of radiation through the “China Syndrome” or something like it.

It’s very likely that there has been at least a partial meltdown in one or more of the reactors – but “meltdown” doesn’t mean “catastrophic release.” The reactor would not just have to melt down, but also penetrate both the still containment vessel and the concrete outer layer, and both were designed explicitly to keep that from happening.

What we can say is that it’s not very likely to be a catastrophic accident, and gets less likely with every minute. The Japanese are cooling the reactors down, and adding boron, which “poisons” the nuclear reaction by absorbing neutrons, the “sparks” that make the reaction go.

The amount of radiation that has been released is, so far, actually very minor. Instead of being “another Chernobyl,” which the IAEA put at INES level 7, this is INES level 4 – and Three Mile Island was level 5. So far, Fukushima is not just not another Chernobyl, it’s not even another Three Mile Island.

And finally, when you hear someone in the media giving one of these catastrophic predictions, check who it is. So far, the catastrophic predictions are consistently coming from people who have been professionally and personally committed to shutting down nuclear weapons and nuclear power for decades.

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Daily Benefactor News – Japan’s Fears Of Nuclear Mayhem Recede As Reactor Starts To Cool

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Japan’s Fears Of Nuclear Mayhem Recede As Reactor Starts To Cool – The Guardian

For a few unnerving hours, Japan faced a bleak and unsettling prospect. The devastation wreaked by Friday’s earthquake and tsunami seemed set to be followed by a nuclear meltdown that could have spread radioactive waste over large parts of the country.

The nation was one short step away from enduring genpatsu-shinsai – an atomic disaster triggered by earthquake that leading Japanese seismologists had been predicting for several years.

Fears of nuclear mayhem were raised when a massive explosion rocked the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant following damage to one of its reactors in Friday’s earthquake. A pall of grey-white smoke rose over the plant, operated by Tokyo Electric Power, and it was reported that four workers had been injured.

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Government officials revealed plans to distribute iodine tablets – a treatment for radiation poisoning – to locals while a 20km exclusion zone were set up round the plant. Residents outside the zone were urged to stay inside, close doors and windows and turn off air conditioning. Scientists had detected eight times the normal radiation levels outside the facility and 1,000 times normal levels inside the affected unit’s control room.

Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, declared a state of emergency at the crippled unit and at its sister plant, the Fukushima Daini, as engineers tried frantically to determine whether the reactor had gone into meltdown.

For locals in Fukushima prefecture, still reeling from frequent aftershocks and clearing up after the first disaster, the prospect of another on the way in the form of nuclear meltdown was unwelcome in the extreme.

“It is frightening. You get used to living with the nuclear plants and then something like this happens. When I saw smoke from the plant, I thought, ‘Uh oh’,” said Kato Tomiyama, a convenience store employeet. “I couldn’t believe it,” said Seiko Sato, a teacher. “We need more information.”

For several hours, observers feared the worst: loss of coolant inside one of the plant’s six reactors had caused a dangerous build-up of heat. A second, more deadly explosion – one that would have released a vast radioactive plume over the nation – seemed a real prospect until it was announced that, although the outer structure of the 40-year-old reactor building had been blown off by the blast, the actual reactor inside had not been breached.

Disaster had been avoided – but by the narrowest of margins. It was confirmed last night that radioactive caesium, one of the elements released when overheating causes core damage, had been detected around the plant. The discovery indicates that meltdown, caused by a nuclear reaction running out of control, had indeed affected the reactor’s fuel rods – although possibly only to a limited extent. The revelation did little to reassure local people.

“Everyone wants to get out of the town, but the roads are terrible,” said Reiko Takagi, a middle-aged woman, standing outside a taxi company. “It is too dangerous to go anywhere. But we are afraid that winds may change and bring radiation towards us.”

The operators of the Fukushima plant announced they had started to fill the containment vessels in which the reactor rests with sea water in a bid to cool it down, a process that would take from five to 10 hours, an official told reporters.

It was also revealed that the International Atomic Energy Agency was planning an investigation. “We are aware of the media reports and we are urgently seeking further information,” an IAEA official told Reuters in Vienna.

In the wake of the impact of Friday’s earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima incident has strained life in Japan to an almost unendurable level, and although catastrophe appears to have been averted the incident has raised serious concerns about Japan’s enthusiastic use of nuclear energy.

Reactors generate almost a third of the country’s electricity and there are plans, already well advanced, to raise this to 50%. For the nuclear industry, the Fukushima incident could not have come at a worse time. Unravelling what happened and how close the nation came to disaster will preoccupy scientists and engineers for years.

It will be a complex business, as John Luxat, professor of nuclear safety analysis at McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, makes clear. “When the quake hit the reactors at Fukushima, three were up and running – the other three were shut down for regular inspection,” he said. “The three that were running shut down immediately, as they are designed to do when the ground shakes above a certain level.

“After that, the emergency back-up diesel generators that provide electricity to the shutdown cooling system operated as designed for about an hour. Then they failed for some reason that’s not clear. They lost power to the pumps providing cooling water.”

Last night reports suggested that the emergency pumps had failed because they had been swamped by the tsunami triggered by the initial earthquake – an embarrassing failure by those who had planned the reactor’s back-up systems.

Whatever the reason, the consequences were dramatic. Without pumps taking away the water that acted as the coolant, the reactors heated up and steam built up inside.

“To reduce the pressure, you would have to release some steam into the atmosphere from the system,” said Paddy Regan, professor of nuclear physics at Surrey University. “In that steam, there will be small but measurable amounts of radioactive nitrogen 16 [produced when neutrons hit water]. This remains radioactive for only about five seconds, after which it decays to natural oxygen.”

The steam that built up inside the damaged reactor was released into the reactor housing, outside the containment vessel. The aim was to vent it , but before that could happen there was an explosion. A huge pall of smoke erupted from the plant, injuring several workers.

Government spokesman Yukio Edano said that the explosion had destroyed the exterior walls of the building where the stricken reactor is located, but not the actual metal housing that enveloped the reactor.

However, it is still possible the reactor could have sustained serious damage. If its fuel rods reached too high a temperature, they would have melted at least partly. “If any of the fuel rods have been compromised, there would be evidence of a small amount of other radioisotopes in the atmosphere called fission fragments – radiocaesium and radioiodine,” said Regan. “The amount that you measure would tell you to what degree the fuel rods have been compromised. Scientists in Japan should be able to establish this very quickly using gamma ray spectroscopy as the isotopes have characteristic decay signatures.”

Despite the revelation that caesium had been detected, Japanese officials still claim the reactor’s container had not been damaged and that radiation levels had started to fall. However, the Japanese nuclear industry has a bad reputation for owning up to accidents and many observers remain cautious about accepting these claims too quickly.

“If the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear power station has resulted in a significant release of radioactive material then this will soon be readily apparent from the radiation monitoring that is undoubtedly under way around the plant,” said Richard Wakeford, visiting professor in epidemiology at Manchester University. “Until we have reliable information on the results of such monitoring from Japan, some of the speculation in which some commentators have indulged is just that – speculation.”

This point was backed by Professor Malcolm Sperrin, director of medical physics and clinical engineering at Royal Berkshire hospital. “There is a lot we don’t know at the moment, but this looks very serious. However, there are a number of things that we should remember. The big difference between something like this and previous accidents elsewhere in the world is that there will be mechanisms in place to deal with the explosion and any impacts it might have. And although there is a lot we don’t know, it is very unlikely that this was an explosion involving the core.”

However, Naoto Sekimura, a professor at Tokyo University, insisted there was little chance that Japan came close to experiencing a Chernobyl-style meltdown. “No Chernobyl is possible at a light water reactor,” he said. “Loss of coolant means a temperature rise, but it also will stop the reaction. Even in the worst-case scenario, that would mean some radioactive leakage and equipment damage, but not an explosion.

“If venting is done carefully, there will be little leakage. Certainly not beyond a radius of three kilometres.”

The danger to the Fukushima Daiichi appears to be receding. By contrast, the problems facing the nuclear industry, particularly in Japan, are likely to rise dramatically over the next few months as the impact of the incident sinks in. Those opposed to nuclear power will not let it be forgotten, as Jan Beranek, head of Greenpeace’s international nuclear campaign, made clear.

“How many more warnings do we need before we finally grasp that nuclear reactors are inherently hazardous? The nuclear industry always tells us that situation like this cannot happen with modern reactors, yet Japan is currently in the middle of a potentially devastating nuclear crisis,” he said.

“Once again, we are reminded of the inherent risks of nuclear power, which will always be vulnerable to the potentially deadly combination of human error, design failure and natural disaster.”

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Daily Benefactor News – Hundreds Dead, Thousands Missing After Massive Earthquake, Tsunami Devastate Japan

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Hundreds Dead, Thousands Missing After Massive Earthquake, Tsunami Devastate Japan – Fox News

Japanese police say 200 to 300 bodies have been found in a northeastern coastal area where a massive earthquake spawned a ferocious tsunami Friday that swept away boats, cars and homes.

The magnitude 8.9 offshore quake – the largest in Japan’s history – unleashed a 23-foot tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.

The bodies found were in Sendai city, the closest major city to the epicenter, Japanese police said. Officials said another 110 were confirmed dead, with 350 people missing. Police also said 544 people were injured. The death toll was likely to continue climbing given the scale of Friday’s disaster.

Tsunami waves generated by the massive quake hit as far as Hawaii, Alaska and the Oregon coast Friday morning. The first waves crashed into the Hawaii island of Kauai at 3:13 a.m. local time. Officials predicted they would experience waves up to 6 feet.

Alaska Emergency Management also reported a 5.1-foot wave at Shemya, 1.5-foot at Adak, and 1.6-foot at Dutch Harbor in the Aleutian Islands. Shemya is 1,200 miles southwest of Anchorage.

Emergency Management Specialist David Lee at Fort Richardson said there are no reports of damage and no significant damage expected on the coast of Alaska, although that could still depend on the surge in different areas.

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The Alaska Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the coastal areas of Alaska from Attu to Amchitka Pass in the Aleutians and an advisory from Amchitka Pass along the West Coast to Oregon.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the 2:46 p.m. quake was a magnitude 8.9, the biggest earthquake to hit Japan since officials began keeping records in the late 1800s, and one of the biggest ever recorded in the world.

The quake struck at a depth of six miles, about 80 miles off the eastern coast, the agency said. The area is 240 miles northeast of Tokyo.

The Japanese government ordered thousands of residents near a nuclear power plant in Onahama city to evacuate because the plant’s system was unable to cool the reactor. The reactor was not leaking radiation but its core remained hot even after a shutdown. The plant is 170 miles northeast of Tokyo.

Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

“The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan,” Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference.

A passenger train with an unknown number of people aboard was unaccounted for Friday, Kyodo News reported. The East Japan Railway Co. train was running near Nobiru Station on the Senseki Line connecting Sendai to Ishinomaki when a massive quake hit, triggering a 33-foot tsunami, according to the station.

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A Japanese coast guard official said a search is also under way for a ship carrying 80 dock workers that was swept away when a tsunami struck the northeastern coast. The vessel was washed away from a shipbuilding site in Miyagi prefecture (state). That’s the area most affected by a massive offshore earthquake on Friday. The quake triggered the tsunami.

Trouble was also reported at two other nuclear plants as well, but there was no radiation leak at any.

Even for a country used to earthquakes, this one was of horrific proportions because of the tsunami that crashed ashore, swallowing everything in its path as it surged several miles inland before retreating.

The apocalyptic images of surging water broadcast by Japanese TV networks resembled scenes from a Hollywood disaster movie.

Large fishing boats and other sea vessels rode high waves into the cities, slamming against overpasses or scraping under them and snapping power lines along the way. Upturned and partially submerged vehicles were seen bobbing in the water. Ships anchored in ports crashed against each other.

The highways to the worst-hit coastal areas were severely damaged and communications, including telephone lines, were snapped. Train services in northeastern Japan and in Tokyo, which normally serve 10 million people a day, were also suspended, leaving untold numbers stranded in stations or roaming the streets. Tokyo’s Narita airport was closed indefinitely.

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Waves of muddy waters flowed over farmland near the city of Sendai, carrying buildings, some on fire, inland as cars attempted to drive away. Sendai airport, north of Tokyo, was inundated with cars, trucks, buses and thick mud deposited over its runways. Fires spread through a section of the city, public broadcaster NHK reported.

More than 300 houses were washed away in Ofunato City alone. Television footage showed mangled debris, uprooted trees, upturned cars and shattered timber littering streets.

The tsunami roared over embankments, washing anything in its path inland before reversing directions and carrying the cars, homes and other debris out to sea. Flames shot from some of the houses, probably because of burst gas pipes.

“Our initial assessment indicates that there has already been enormous damage,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. “We will make maximum relief effort based on that assessment.”

He said the Defense Ministry was sending troops to the quake-hit region. A utility aircraft and several helicopters were on the way.

A large fire erupted at the Cosmo oil refinery in Ichihara city in Chiba prefecture and burned out of control with 100-foot-high flames whipping into the sky.

From northeastern Japan’s Miyagi prefecture, NHK showed footage of a large ship being swept away and ramming directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city.

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NHK said more than 4 million buildings were without power in Tokyo and its suburbs.

Also in Miyagi, a fire broke out in a turbine building of a nuclear power plant, but it was later extinguished, said Tohoku Electric Power Co. the company said.

A reactor area of a nearby plant was leaking water, the company said. But it was unclear if the leak was caused by tsunami water or something else. There were no reports of radioactive leaks at any of Japan’s nuclear plants.

Jefferies International Limited, a global investment banking group, said it estimated overall losses to be about $10 billion.

A tsunami warning was extended to a number of Pacific, Southeast Asian and Latin American nations, including Japan, Russia, Indonesia, New Zealand and Chile. In the Philippines, authorities ordered an evacuation of coastal communities, but no unusual waves were reported.

Thousands of people fled their homes in Indonesia after officials warned of a tsunami up to 6 feet high. But waves of only 4 inches were measured. No big waves came to the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory, either.

In downtown Tokyo, large buildings shook violently and workers poured into the street for safety. TV footage showed a large building on fire and bellowing smoke in the Odaiba district of Tokyo. The tremor bent the upper tip of the iconic Tokyo Tower, a 1,093-foot steel structure inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

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Footage on NHK from their Sendai office showed employees stumbling around and books and papers crashing from desks. It also showed a glass shelter at a bus stop in Tokyo completely smashed by the quake and a weeping woman nearby being comforted by another woman.

Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday that caused no damage.

Hiroshi Sato, a disaster management official in northern Iwate prefecture, said officials were having trouble getting an overall picture of the destruction.

“We don’t even know the extent of damage. Roads were badly damaged and cut off as tsunami washed away debris, cars and many other things,” he said.

Dozens of fires were reported in northern prefectures of Fukushima, Sendai, Iwate and Ibaraki. Collapsed homes and landslides were also reported in Miyagi.

Japan’s worst previous quake was in 1923 in Kanto, an 8.3-magnitude temblor that killed 143,000 people, according to USGS. A 7.2-magnitude quake in Kobe city in 1996 killed 6,400 people.

Japan lies on the “Ring of Fire” – an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching around the Pacific where about 90 percent of the world’s quakes occur, including the one that triggered the Dec. 26, 2004, Indian Ocean tsunami that killed an estimated 230,000 people in 12 nations. A magnitude-8.8 temblor that shook central Chile last February also generated a tsunami and killed 524 people.

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