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The explosive truth behind Fukushima's meltdown
David McNeill in Tokyo and Jake Adelstein, The Independent
It is one of the mysteries of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis: How much damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi reactors before the tsunami hit?
The stakes are high: if the earthquake structurally compromised the plant and the safety of its nuclear fuel, then every similar reactor in Japan may have to be shut down. With almost all of Japan's 54 reactors either offline (in the case of 35) or scheduled for shutdown by next April, the issue of structural safety looms over any discussion about restarting them...
Throughout the months of lies and misinformation, one story has stuck: it was the earthquake that knocked out the plant's electric power, halting cooling to its six reactors. The tsunami then washed out the plant's back-up generators 40 minutes later, shutting down all cooling and starting the chain of events that would cause the world's first triple meltdown.
But what if recirculation pipes and cooling pipes burst after the earthquake – before the tidal wave reached the facilities; before the electricity went out? This would surprise few people familiar with the 40-year-old reactor one, the grandfather of the nuclear reactors still operating in Japan...
(17 August 2011)
(17 August 2011)
Mushrooms Join Growing List of Radioactive Threats to Japan’s Food Chain
Naoko Fujimura and Chris Cooper, Bloomberg
Mushrooms joined the threats to Japan’s food chain from radiation spewed by Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, as the country expands efforts to limit the effects of the disaster.
Japan is under pressure to enhance food inspections as it has no centralized system for detecting radiation contamination. About two-thirds of Japan’s prefectures now plan to check rice crops, the Mainichi newspaper reported yesterday, citing its own survey. Half of Japan’s rice is grown within range of emissions from the crippled nuclear plant, and farmers are awaiting the results of tests before harvesting begins this month.
“By strengthening inspection on rice, we want to make sure only safe produce are in the market,” Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano said at a press conference on Aug. 12.
Nameko mushrooms grown in the open air in Soma, a city about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, were found to contain nine times the legal limit of cesium, the local government said Aug. 12. Japan’s farm ministry asked growers in Fukushima prefecture to refrain from harvesting mushrooms off raw wood left outside, public broadcaster NHK reported Aug. 13.
Authorities in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures are conducting spot checks on a range of products in cooperation with local farmers. Radiation exceeding safety levels has been found in produce, tea, milk, fish and beef sourced as far as 360 kilometers from the nuclear plant...
(14 August 2011)
5 Months After Meltdown, Fukushima Citizens Still Face Radioactive Risks
PBS News Hour, Independent News
(16 August 2011)
Japan utility may face delay in Fukushima cleanup plan
Tetsushi Kajimoto and Shinichi Saoshiro, Reuters
The operator of Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant said Wednesday that it would stick to its timetable of trying to achieve "cold shutdown" of damaged reactors by January, though technical problems could delay the plan.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant was damaged in March by a earthquake and tsunami that left more than 20,000 people dead or missing. The nuclear accident was the worst of its kind since the explosion and fire at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.
"There is no change to the basis of our timeframe. But regarding our aim to bring rectors and fuel pools to cold shutdowns, we have succeeded in further stabilizing the situation, Zengo Aizawa, Tepco's vice president, told reporters...
(17 August 2011)
Fukushima Daiichi Radioactivity Down to 20% of July Levels
Environment News Service
The amount of radioactive material being emitted from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has fallen to one-fifth that of a month ago, the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company said today.
Maximum radiation levels near the plant measured since the beginning of August were 200 million becquerels per hour. Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, said today the 200 million becquerel reading is an estimate, and he promised to seek ways of making precise measurements and for containing radioactivity inside the plant.
Still, the 200 million becquerel estimate is one-fifth the levels measured in July, and one-10 millionth the levels in mid-March, just after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and 14 meter tsunami struck, causing a station blackout and cooling function shutdown at the nuclear facility on the Japan's Pacific coast....
(17 August 2011)
Japan reopens first nuclear reactor since tsunami
Danielle Demetriou, The Daily Telegraph
A nuclear power plant in northern Japan has become the first reactor in the country to resume full operations since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Tomari nuclear power plant's reactor number three, in Japan's northernmost Hokkaido island, restarted full commercial operations after receiving the official go ahead from central government.
Close to 75 per cent of Japan's 54 reactors are currently off line for safety checks since the Fukushima power plant was badly damaged in the earthquake and tsunami, triggering the on-going nuclear crisis.
A wave of anti-nuclear sentiment has been gathering pace across many communities, particularly those hosting power plants, resulting in local authorities increasingly opposing a resumption of operations...
(18 August 2011)