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Breaking News: Explosions at Nuclear Plants Follow Japan 8.9 Earthquake
by Mei Bo Chan
Friday Mar 11th, 2011 4:05 PM
NHK, Japan's national broadcast system, reports more than 1,000 people have died or are missing after an 8.9 earthquake (8.8 on the Japanese earthquake magnitude scale). A tsunami of 30 feet or higher struck the northeast coast of Japan near the city of Sendai Thursday at 9:46pm California time. The nuclear agency in Japan reports 8 times normal radioactivity at a reactor called Dai-ichi in the prefecture of Fukushima, about 200 miles north of Tokyo.

UPDATES are being added as comments by indybay reporters following NHK news in Japanese, Al Jazeera English, and other key sources. Please post your comments as well.
The nuclear agency in Japan reports 8 times normal radioactivity at a reactor called Dai-ichi.  3,000 were  evacuated earlier, and now that the evacuation has been increased to a 10 km radius many more are being evacuated.  The reactor automatically shut down but it also shut down the system that cools it.  Emergency generators were flooded by the tsunami.

CNN reported that if batteries run out the core could overheat and melt down but American scientists they interviewed say this situation is not going to be as bad as Chernobyl.

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by Mei Bo Chan
Friday Mar 11th, 2011 4:53 PM
Kyodo News: The amount of radiation is reported to now be around 1,000 times the normal level in the control room of the reactor of the Fukushima's nuclear power plant. The report goes on to say that this raises concerns that radioactive steam could spread around the facility.
The radioactive cooling system isn't working at two nuclear plants, according to Japanese news sources. They are Daiichi and Daini, in Fukushima. Authorities have ordered the release of valves at two affected facilities. The evacuation radius is now 6 miles (10km). Despite this authorities are insisting that nearby residents aren't in danger. Atomic material might seep out of one of nuclear reactors according to a spokesman for Japan's nuclear regulatory agency. Small levels of radioactive materials have been released within the reactor and possibly outside as well.

At this point a melt-down is NOT inevitable according to American scientists reporting on CNN but they are calling the situation serious.
by Sophie T. Hans
Saturday Mar 12th, 2011 6:26 PM
The disaster unfolding in Japan is a terrible reminder of the dangers of nuclear power. Tell the President and your members of Congress that there is no place for taxpayer giveaways to the nuclear industry in this year’s budget by signing a petition. click on link here and you can also read more on the Green Peace website and sign on the petition through their site.
by MBC
Saturday Mar 12th, 2011 6:33 PM
Kyodo News: Radiation levels have risen above the safety limit around Tokyo Electric Power Co's nuclear plant and the company has informed the government of an emergency situation.
NHK live report at 8:35 PST today
by Sophie T. Hans/MBC
Saturday Mar 12th, 2011 9:05 PM
Also: Japan upgrade it's 8.8 to 9.0 on the Japanese magnitude scale. The USGS says that this makes it the 4th largest earthquake in recorded history
NHK: 80,000 people have been ordered to evacuate the area increased from radius 10km to a radius of 20 km around the plant in Fukushima.

NOTE: A meltdown is collapse of a power plant's systems and its ability to manage temperatures. A complete meltdown would release uranium and dangerous byproducts into the environment; if this were to happen the SF Bay area would see increased radiation within 6 to 10 days, according to an article in the Seattle Times. The dangerous elements dissipate as the flow travels across the Pacific Ocean, but the radiation levels would still be abnormally high. A scientist from Physicians for Social Responsibility said they would not be dangerous levels, however. Seattle Times article see:
by MBC
Saturday Mar 12th, 2011 10:51 PM
10 min ago, interview with Japanese Cabinet Secretary reporting on the Fukushima nuclear power plant situation.

Q: Has there been a meltdown?

A: A part of core, within the core, is become deformed, but we have to be careful with terminology, a meltdown in a general sense is very serious.

Q: Can you use the reactor after you have cooled it with seawater?

A: When you used seawater it will be very difficult to reuse it.

Q: you vented air from the it dangerous to humans?

A: Radiation level anyone has been to exposed to for one hour = same as 3 stomach X-rays. So it is not a harmful radiation level currently.

NOTE: Al Jazeera English and other non-Japanese sources are referring to the situation as a partial meltdown or a likely partial meltdown. Also some Japanese in official and semi-official capacities are saying "their may have been a meltdown." In an interview between CNN and Toshihiro Bannai, Director of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency International Affairs Office today, Bannai said "there is a possibility, we see the possibility of a meltdown. At this point we have still not confirmed that there is an actual meltdown, but there is a possibility".

Also, in interpretation of Japanese Cabinet Secretary's press conference above, note that many scientists are saying that there is never a chance of re-using a reactor that is cooled down with seawater. The Japanese literal statement in interview above, "very difficult to use" can also be interpreted as "impossible to use".

See also: Meltdown could affect US West Coast in link here:
by Sophie T. Hans
Sunday Mar 13th, 2011 12:41 AM
This is from major US news sources:

Japan's prime minister, Naoto Kan, declared a state of emergency at the Fukushima nuclear reactor site... actually this is not breaking news, as it happened about 24 hours ago.

This is the fourth largest earthquake in recorded history, according to the USGS

Citizens Nuclear Information Center wants a nuclear free world and is sharply criticizing the Japanese government.
Philip White of the organization said: people could get lethal doses in worst case, though this is not happening now. Evacuating people is important; 20km is probably just a convenience, as it is hard to relocate people. The farther people can get away from this is important. We've been warning of a nuclear disaster for a long time, the Japanese gov't has refused to listen to us. As for seawater into the core, experts spoke at a conference we held last night and said that there is NO Future for this reactor. Also, if black rain falls over populated areas radioactivity is deposited in the soil and can be ingested. (CNN)

by MBC
Sunday Mar 13th, 2011 12:53 AM
Philip White is the editor of Nuke Info Tokyo at the Citizens Information Nuclear Center in Japan.
Website in English and Japanese. English website is here

6 million people are without power and stores are running out of food. People being interviewed by NHK are saying they do not have enough to eat or drink. A man is announcing "please do not take more food than you need" at a supermarket.
The nuclear reactor disaster has caused the outages.
by R. Robertson
Sunday Mar 13th, 2011 1:13 AM
Japan NHK is indeed reporting regularly on the reactor situation, but a lot of what they are doing in their 24/7 coverage is helping people know where to find help, how to find the missing, and warning them not to return to their uninhabitable homes. They are using uncharacteristically strong language like "yamete-kudasai" (please stop doing it) instead of the polite "go-enryo kudasai" (please refrain from doing so) when issuing warnings. My impression is some of the language used is meant to speed up delivery of important news. NHK is mandated to use only the most proper Japanese, but in one report the news caster said (using an English word "announce sareta" = "it was announced" when there are many Japanese words that can be used without using a borrowing from English.

"Even if the nuclear reactor explodes it will not be a problem" the Cabinet Secretary is saying....much of this may be to calm people down.
by Union Jack
Sunday Mar 13th, 2011 3:41 PM
The ecological organic movement for sustainable power has been saying that Atomic Nuclear Power is a catastrophic disaster waiting to happen for forty-seven years now, and is inevitablly catastrophic.

This has been ignored and or suppressed by the Imperialist Camp which insists it is progressive and scientific clean fuel. In point of truth Atomic Nuclear Power Plants are failed twentieth century technology as they 1) cannot contain the radioactive wastes, 2) also they cannot stop the disasters that mother nature delivers when storms, psunamis earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons, hurricanes, and etc. delivers up occasionally, 3) they are also susceptible to being sabotaged during the numerous aggressive wars that are being waged by those that think blowing up their opponents power is victory, 4) they are also easily targeted by the Imperial nations that posess missles and have a proven record of destroying power sources during their numerous wars, such as America (Vietnam) Germany (Holland), Germany ( Soviet Russia) UK (Germany) and the numerous other times unrecorded.

These Atomic Nuclear Power sources are not just conventionally dangerous, they infact threaten the entire livability of the planet. If they explode for one reason or another pollution results that destroys the plants, animals, people, air, land, water with contamination lasting for thousands if not millions of years.
Do not believe the company propaganda about they are clean fuel. They are polluting the planet daily with radiation and sickening the web of life. (Chernoble one million killed).

The way to proceed is to RE-TOOL THE ENTIRE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION TO WIND, TIDAL, AND SOLAR POWER, which transforms to electricity and is more power than can be used by society. This natural and renewable power has sustained life on the planet for billions of years and is more power than all fossil fuels combined.

End pollution wars, not endless wars for more and more pollution. End private and public subsidies to the Atomic nuclear power plants, and support instead natural renewable power. Viva socialist liberation.
by R. Robertson
Sunday Mar 13th, 2011 8:16 PM
Following NHK live via cable: Officials say the blast was outside, not within the reactor. Japanese officials keep insisting that the situation is under control and levels of radiation, while higher than normal, do not present a health risk.

Prime Minister encouraging family togetherness in this time of stress.

In the NYTimes today: "Some also said there might have been missteps in handling Reactor No. 1. A quick alternative source of water for cooling the destabilizing core should have been immediately available, said Nils J. Diaz, a nuclear engineer who led the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2003 to 2006 and had visited the Daiichi plant. Mr. Diaz suggested that the Japanese might have acted too slowly to prevent overheating, including procedures that might have required the venting of small amounts of steam and radiation, rather than risk a wholesale meltdown. Fear among Japanese regulators over public reaction to such small releases may have delayed plant operators from acting as quickly as they might have, he said — a problem arising in part from the country’s larger nuclear regulatory culture."

Elsewhere in the NY Times today there is a comparison on Japanese and American culture in terms of transparency, with Americans being "used to transparency" while Japanese are not.
by R. Robertson
Sunday Mar 13th, 2011 8:22 PM
Full name and title: Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano
NY Times: While federal officials expected little danger in the United States from Japanese plumes, they were taking no chances. On Sunday, Energy Department officials, [spoke] on the condition of anonymity... One main player is the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Officials said they had activated its National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center, which draws on meteorologists, nuclear scientists and computer scientists to forecast plume dispersal.
NY Times: "Over the years, Japanese plant operators, along with friendly government officials, have sometimes hidden episodes at plants from a public increasingly uneasy with nuclear power".
Examples follow in the article.
Over the years, Japanese plant operators, along with friendly government officials, have sometimes hidden episodes at plants from a public increasingly uneasy with nuclear power.

In 2007, an earthquake in northwestern Japan caused a fire and minor radiation leaks at the world’s largest nuclear plant, in Kashiwazaki City. An ensuing investigation found that the operator — Tokyo Electric — had unknowingly built the facility directly on top of an active seismic fault. A series of fires inside the plant after the earthquake deepened the public’s fear. But Tokyo Electric said it upgraded the facility to withstand stronger tremors and reopened in 2009.

Last year, another reactor with a troubled history was allowed to reopen, 14 years after a fire shut it down. The operator of that plant, the Monju Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor, located along the coast about 220 miles west of Tokyo, tried to cover up the extent of the fire by releasing altered video after the accident in 1995.
Good reporting at blog above and you can follow it with very recent updating. Latest news:

Latest News from Al Jazeera:
A new explosion rocked Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex, sending a plume of smoke into the air and touching off fresh concerns of radioactive leak in the quake and tsunami-hit country.
Tokyo Electric Power Co [TEPCO], the plant operator, in a press release on Monday said, it was believed to be a hydrogen explosion at the plant's No.3 reactor and that 11 workers were injured. The blast was similar to an earlier one at a different unit at the facility.
by MBC
Tuesday Mar 15th, 2011 8:46 AM reports:The nuclear reactor situation in Japan has deteriorated significantly. Two more explosions occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on March 15.

The first occurred at 6:10 a.m. local time at reactor No. 2, which had seen nuclear fuel rods exposed for several hours after dropping water levels due to mishaps in the emergency cooling efforts. Within three hours the amount of radiation at the plant rose to 163 times the previously recorded level, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Read more: Red Alert: Radiation Rising and Heading South in Japan | STRATFOR
Japan Prime Minister said today there is a "high risk" that more radioactive material will be released as workers struggle to prevent further explosions and leaks at a quake-damaged nuclear plant.