Japan’s Darkest Hour Since WW-II
Japan’s Darkest Hour Since WW-II
Toll Tops 10,000 3 Reactors In 1 N-Plant At Risk, Emergency At Another
Fukushima: Japan struggled to avert a nuclear disaster and care for millions of people without power or water, three days after an earthquake and tsunami killed an estimated 10,000 people or more in the nation’s darkest hour since World War II. Hours before the world’s thirdlargest economy opens for business on Monday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan described the crisis as Japan’s worst since 1945 as officials confirmed that three nuclear reactors were at risk of overheating, raising fears of an uncontrolled radiation leak.
“The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War II,” Kan told a news conference. “We’re under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis.” As he spoke, officials worked desperately to stop fuel rods in the damaged reactors from overheating. If they fail, the containers that house the core could melt, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere.
The most urgent crisis centres on the Fukushima Daiichi power plant complex, where all three reactors are threatening to overheat, and where authorities say they have been forced to release radioactive steam into the air to relieve reactor pressure.
The complex was rocked by an explosion on Saturday which blew the roof off a reactor building. The government did not rule out further blasts there but said this would not necessarily damage the reactor vessels. Authorities have poured sea water in all three of the complex's reactor to cool them down. The complex, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co, is the biggest nuclear concern but not the only one: on Monday, the UN nuclear watchdog said Japanese authorities had notified it of an emergency at another plant further north, at Onagawa.
But Japan’s nuclear safety agency denied problems at the Onagawa plant, run by Tohoku Electric Power Co, noting that radioactive releases from the Fukushima Daiichi complex had been detected at Onagawa, but that these were within safe levels at a tiny fraction of the radiation received in an x-ray. Shortly later, a cooling-system problem was reported at another nuclear plant closer to Tokyo, in Ibaraki prefecture. Fukushima’s No. 1 reactor, where the roof was ripped off, is 40 years old and was originally set to go out of commission in February but had its operating licence extended by 10 years. Kan said the crisis was not another Chernobyl, referring to the 1986 disaster in Soviet Ukraine. “Radiation has been released in the air, but there are no reports that a large amount was released,” Jiji news agency quoted him as saying. “This is fundamentally different from the Chernobyl accident.” Nevertheless, France recommended its citizens leave the Tokyo region, citing risk of furtherearthquakes and uncertainty about the nuclear plants. Another threat emerged in southwestern Japan, when a volcano erupted on Sunday after nearly two weeks of relative silence, sending ash and rocks up to 4km into the air. It was not immediately clear if the eruption was a direct result of the earthquake. The 1,421-metre Shinmoedake volcano saw its first major eruption for 52 years in January. There had not been any major activity at the site since March 1.Broadcaster NHK, quoting a police official, said more than 10,000 may have been killed after Friday’s 8.9-magnitude quake triggered tsunami waves across the coastline, reducing whole towns to rubble. Almost 2 million households were without power in the freezing north, the government said. There were about 1.4 million without running water. Kyodo news agency said about 300,000 people were evacuated nationwide. Authorities have set up a 20km exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant and a 10km zone around another nuclear facility close by. The nuclear accident, the worst since Chernobyl, sparked criticism that authorities were ill-prepared for such a massive quake and the threat it could pose to the country’s nuclear power industry. Chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said there might have been a partial meltdown of the fuel rods at the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima. Engineers were pumping in seawater, trying to prevent the same happening at the No. 3 reactor, he said in apparent acknowledgement they had moved too slowly on Saturday. A Japanese official said 22 people have been confirmed to have suffered radiation contamination and up to 190 may have been exposed.
AGENCIES RISING THREAT
JAPAN BRACES FOR ANOTHER N-REACTOR BLAST
Japan faces risk of second housing the core About 200,000 people explosion at Fukushima N- Meltdown of reactor 3 around plants evacuated. No plant, 240km north of Tokyo, could be more serious as it is danger yet of radiation where a blast in reactor 1 on fuelled by plutonium and travelling beyond the country Saturday blew away the roof uranium. Other units have Japan, with 54 reactors, is Rising heat in all three only uranium. Workers trying world’s 3rd largest generator reactors at the plant has to cool rods with seawater of nuclear power
raised fears of overheated Emergency declared at Japan suffered world’s only fuel rods exploding or another N-plant, Onagawa, N-holocaust in 1945, killing melting the container with high radiation levels 1.5 to 2.4 lakh people.