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Posts Tagged ‘Japan Earthquake’

Japan Death Toll Estimate Rises Over 18,000, Rebuilding May Cost $235 Billion

ERIC TALMADGE and MARI YAMAGUCHI   03/20/11 11:54 PM   AP

FUKUSHIMA, Japan — The toll of Japan’s triple disaster came into clearer focus Monday after police estimates showed more than 18,000 people died, the World Bank said rebuilding may cost $235 billion and more cases of radiation-tainted vegetables and tap water turned up.

Japanese officials reported progress over the weekend in their battle to gain control over a nuclear complex that began leaking radiation after suffering quake and tsunami damage, though the crisis was far from over, with a dangerous new surge in pressure reported in one of the plant’s six reactors.

The announcement by Japan’s Health Ministry late Sunday that tests had detected excess amounts of radioactive elements on canola and chrysanthemum greens marked a low moment in a day that had been peppered with bits of positive news: First, a teenager and his grandmother were found alive nine days after being trapped in their earthquake-shattered home. Then, the operator of the overheated nuclear plant said two of the six reactor units were safely cooled down.

“We consider that now we have come to a situation where we are very close to getting the situation under control,” Deputy Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said.

Still, serious problems remained at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex. Pressure unexpectedly rose in a third unit’s reactor, meaning plant operators may need to deliberately release radioactive steam. That has only added to public anxiety over radiation that began leaking from the plant after a monstrous earthquake and tsunami devastated northeastern Japan on March 11 and left the plant unstable. As day broke Monday, Japan’s military resumed dousing of the complex’s troubled Unit 4.

The World Bank said in report Monday that Japan may need five years to rebuild from the catastrophic disasters, which caused up to $235 billion in damage, saying the cost to private insurers will be up to $33 billion and that the government will spend $12 billion on reconstruction in the current national budget and much more later.

The safety of food and water was of particular concern. The government halted shipments of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the nuclear plant after tests found iodine exceeded safety limits. Tokyo’s tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has cesium. Rain and dust are also tainted.

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Rush Limbaugh Mocks Japan Quake Refugees (VIDEO)

HuffPost- First Posted: 03/16/11 08:30 AM Updated: 03/16/11 08:30 AM

Rush Limbaugh laughed about Japanese refugees recycling after the earthquake that struck the country on his Tuesday show.

A caller asked Limbaugh, “If these are the people that invented the Prius, have mastered public transportation, recycling, why did Mother Earth, Gaia if you will, hit them with this disaster?”

Limbaugh called this an “interesting question,” and played a clip of ABC’s Diane Sawyer reporting from a shelter in Japan. In the clip, Sawyer is surprised that the refugees in the shelter have maintained a recycling program. Limbaugh first mocked Sawyer, doing an impression of her and saying that “she sounds like she saw her husband for the first time in six months.” He then turned to his caller’s question.

“He’s right,” Limbaugh said. “They’ve given us the Prius. Even now, refugees are recycling their garbage.” Here, he began to laugh, continuing, “and yet, Gaia levels them! Just wipes them out!”

This angle has been something of a theme for Limbaugh; last week, he wondered if environmentalists would “cheer” the quake.

Watch (via Media Matters):

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In this undated but recent photo released by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant reactors stand in line intact in Okumamachi in Fukushima Prefecture (state), northeastern Japan. Reactors encased in square boxes, from left,

Doomsday Scenario at Fukushima

Marvin Resnikoff- HuffPost
Senior Associate, Radioactive Waste Management Associates
Posted: March 15, 2011 11:03 AM

The slow motion events occurring at Japan’s (or GE’s) Fukushima reactor cannot be sugar-coated. It is a doomsday scenario unfolding.

Nuclear reactors are not the same as coal/oil/gas electricity plants. Unlike conventional plants, they cannot be turned off. So while brave workers were tending to Units 1, 2 and 3 reactors, attempting against all odds to keep the reactor from overheating, the fuel pool at Unit 4 was left untended; without makeup water to cool them, the fuel rods overheated. Above 1800 oF, an exothermic reaction, a fire, took place with the zirconium cladding around the uranium pellets. Zirconium burned, forming zirconium oxide and hydrogen gas, which then exploded and released radioactive cesium, a semi-volatile metal, to the atmosphere.

Near the plant, the radiation levels dangerously escalated to 400 milliseiverts/hour (or 40 rems/hour in U.S. parlance). Considering background is on the order of 1 milliseivert per YEAR, this means a yearly background dose every 9 seconds. Put plainly, workers at the Fukushima reactors are putting their lives in immediate jeopardy.

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Fukushima Explosion: Japan Nuclear Plant Rocked By Hydrogen Explosion (VIDEO)

AP/The Huffington Post First Posted: 03/14/11 01:33 AM Updated: 03/14/11 08:01 AM

SOMA, Japan – The second hydrogen explosion in three days rocked Japan’s stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Monday, sending a massive column of smoke into the air and wounding 6 workers. The plant’s operator said radiation levels at the reactor were still within legal limits.

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The explosion at the plant’s Unit 3, which authorities have been frantically trying to cool following a system failure in the wake of a massive earthquake and tsunami, triggered an order for hundreds of people to stay indoors, said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radiation levels at Unit 3 were 10.65 microsieverts, significantly under the 500 microsieverts at which a nuclear operator must file a report to the government.

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Smoke rises from Fukushima Daiichi No 1 plant after a blast at the power station following Japan's earthquake and tsunami. Photograph: Staff/Reuters

Japan earthquake: the nuclear crisis is not over yet

Japan says disaster has been averted at the Fukushima nuclear plant but serious questions remain

Posted by Julian Borger Saturday 12 March 2011 23.24 GMT guardian.co.uk

The Japanese authorities have told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the levels of radioactivity outside the Unit 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are falling and that there was no rupture in the unit’s containment vessel that would have led to a large-scale release of radiation. However, it now appears that the cooling systems in the No 3 reactor have also failed.

Sea water and boron are being pumped into the Unit 1 vessel with the aim of preventing a meltdown of the fuel inside. For the time being, the threat of a meltdown has receded. It is not immediately clear if the same is going to be done at the No 3 reactor.

It is the first time such desperate measures have been employed. Olli Heinonen, the former head of the IAEA’s safeguards department now at Harvard University, told me that the seawater has to be continually pumped out of the vessel as well as being pumped in, and he has so far seen no confirmation that the temperature of the water is stable or dropping.

Heinonen said that the equipment being used to do the pumping has necessarily been improvised, and will be therefore be highly vulnerable to aftershocks.

He also pointed out that there has been no word so far on the spent fuel at the site which would be kept in pools at the reactor. Any breakdown in the cooling system could cause the spent fuel to melt, with the risk of a significant release of radioactivity.

There is widespread uneasiness despite the reassuring noises coming from the authorities over the situation, in part because of the industry’s history of ignoring warnings and covering up safety problems.

SOURCE

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Japan Earthquake 2011: 8.9 Magnitude Earthquake Hits, 13-Foot Tsunami Triggered

AP/The Huffington Post First Posted: 03/11/11 04:54 AM Updated: 03/11/11 12:00 PM

TOKYO — A ferocious tsunami spawned by one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded slammed Japan’s eastern coast Friday, killing hundreds of people as it swept away boats, cars and homes while widespread fires burned out of control.

Hours later, the tsunami hit Hawaii and warnings blanketed the Pacific, putting areas on alert as far away as South America, Canada, Alaska and the entire U.S. West Coast. In Japan, the area around a nuclear power plant in the northeast was evacuated after the reactor’s cooling system failed.

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Police said 200 to 300 bodies were found in the northeastern coastal city of Sendai, the city in Miyagi prefecture (state) closest to the quake’s epicenter. Another 88 were confirmed killed and at least 349 were missing. The death toll was likely to continue climbing given the scale of the disaster.

The magnitude-8.9 offshore quake unleashed a 23-foot (seven-meter) tsunami and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks for hours, many of them of more than magnitude 6.0.

Dozens of cities and villages along a 1,300-mile (2,100-kilometer) stretch of coastline were shaken by violent tremors that reached as far away as Tokyo, hundreds of miles (kilometers) from the epicenter. A large section of Kesennuma, a town of 70,000 people in Miyagi, burned furiously into the night with no apparent hope of the flames being extinguished, public broadcaster NHK said.

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

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