Associated Press reports that Japan abandons stricken nuke plant.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Japan abandons stricken nuke plant over radiation
Mar 15, 10:35 PM EDT
By ERIC TALMADGE and SHINO YUASA
FUKUSHIMA, Japan (AP) -- Japan suspended operations to prevent a stricken nuclear plant from melting down Wednesday after a surge in radiation made it too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said work on dousing reactors with water was disrupted by the need to withdraw.
There are six reactors at the plant, and three that were operating at the time have been rocked by explosions. The one still on fire was offline at the time of the magnitude 9.0 quake, Japan's most powerful on record.
The Nuclear Industrial and 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 Industrial 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.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that a cloud of nuclear mistrust spreads around the world.
Cloud of nuclear mistrust spreads around the world
By Michael McCarthy
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
FOUR ATOMIC REACTORS IN DIRE TROUBLE AT ONCE, three threatening meltdown from overheating, and a fourth hit by a fire in its storage pond for radioactive spent fuel.
All day yesterday, dire reports continued to circulate about the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, faced with disaster after Japan's tsunami knocked out its cooling systems. Some turned out to be false: for example, a rumour, disseminated by text message, that radiation from the plant had been spreading across Asia.
Others were true: that radiation at about 20 times normal levels had been detected in Tokyo; that Chinese airlines had cancelled flights to the Japanese capital; that Austria had moved it embassy from Tokyo to Osaka; that a 24-hour general store in Tokyo's Roppongi district had sold out of radios, torches, candles and sleeping bags.
But perhaps the most alarming thing was that although Naoto Kan, Japan's Prime Minister, once again appealed for calm, there are many — in Japan and beyond — who are no longer prepared to be reassured.
The scale of the alarm is the remarkable thing: how it has gone round the world (Angela Merkel has imposed a moratorium on nuclear energy; in France, there are calls for a referendum); how it's even displaced the terrible story of Japan's tsunami itself from the front-page headlines. But then, public alarm about nuclear safety, as the Fukushima emergency proves, is very easy to raise — and, as the Japanese authorities are now discovering, very hard to calm.
The reason is an industry which from its inception, more than half a century ago, has taken secrecy to be its watchword; and once that happens, cover-ups and downright lies often follow close behind. The sense of crisis surrounding Japan's stricken nuclear reactors is exacerbated a hundredfold by the fact that, in an emergency, public trust in the promoters of atomic power is virtually non-existent. On too many occasions in Britain, in America, in Russia, in Japan — pick your country — people have not been told the truth (and have frequently been told nothing at all) about nuclear misadventures.
…Of particular concern has been the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), Asia's biggest utility, which just happens to be the owner and operator of the stricken reactors at Fukushima.
Tepco has a truly rotten record in telling the truth. In 2002, its chairman and a group of senior executives had to resign after the Japanese government disclosed they had covered up a large series of cracks and other damage to reactors, and in 2006 the company admitted it had been falsifying data about coolant materials in its plants over a long period.
The Belfast Telegraph reports that people fleeing in fear.
Japan: People fleeing in fear... the silent streets are eerie
By Sarah Rainey
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
A Belfast man living in Japan has told how hundreds of locals are fleeing the country as fears mount over the potential for nuclear explosions.
Philip Arneill (36), a teacher at a primary school in Tokyo, said the streets of the city are "eerie" and "deserted" after last week's quake.
"The threat of aftershocks and radiation has caused a large number of staff and families to flee to other cities and countries," he said. "It's very eerie to see my usual stomping grounds of Shibuya and Shimo-kitazawa, normally full of people, so strangely subdued.
"Shops and restaurants are closed from a combination of interrupted delivery routes, the call to conserve energy and the inability of staff to commute to work. Any businesses which are still open are dimly-lit and largely deserted.
"Most petrol stations have closed so even cars and motorbikes will only be a temporary blessing. Bread and milk are at a premium and I have seen no bottled water available since Saturday in any of the convenience stores and supermarkets."
"In a country where it is often so easy to look at the rest of the world and feel safe, suddenly nothing seems quite so certain."
My reaction: The situation is getting worse. I am glad I am not in Tokyo right now…