Japanese nuclear technicians began releasing moderately radioactive water into the sea from Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station on Monday to create room to store more highly contaminated water building up under the crippled plant, reports the FT. A manager at Tepco, the station’s operator, broke into tears while announcing the emergency measure on Monday, and apologised for their impact on communities near the plant, 240km north of Tokyo. Bloomberg adds that Tepco shares plunged a further 15% in Tuesday intraday trading, to their lowest level since listing in 1951 after Tepco began discharging 11,500 tons of contaminated water into the sea on Monday; meanwhile, radioactive iodine and cesium were found in fish caught in waters near the plant. Read more
Extremely high levels of radioactivity were detected on Sunday in a building beside the No 2 reactor at Japan’s stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, reports the FT. The discovery sparked fresh concerns after reports that the No 3 reactor was unlikely to have been breached, as feared earlier. Efforts to repair the cooling systems at the No 2 and No 3 reactors have been delayed by the need to drain radioactive water from the floors, Tepco, the plant’s owner, said. Workers were ordered out of the No 2 reactor building on Sunday after radiation 100,000 times the normal level was detected in water in the turbine housing unit. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Tepco’s president Masataka Shimizu is facing calls to resign after the crisis that wiped $26bn off the company’s market value. Read more
Japan moved on Friday to widen the exclusion zone around its crippled Fukushima nuclear power station, advising residents in a 20-30km band around the plant to leave the area and telling them to prepare for a possible mandatory evacuation, reports the FT. Yukio Edano, chief cabinet secretary, cited the increasingly difficult living conditions inside the band, where for nearly two weeks people have ordered to stay inside. Keeping the area supplied with food and water – an operation carried out largely by military personnel – is diverting resources from emergency efforts elsewhere, he added. Radiation exceeding legal limits has already been detected in food and water in areas outside the evacuation zone. The US has advised its nationals to stay at least 80km from the plant. Two workers were moved to a radiation treatment centre near Tokyo on Friday, authorities said. Earlier, the FT reported that emergency crews resumed work at the power station on Thursday after smoke cleared from its No 3 reactor, prompting authorities to lift an evacuation order issued a day earlier. Read more
High radiation levels have been found in the sea off Japan’s earthquake-stricken nuclear power plant, fuelling fears about the impact on the nation’s fishing industry, the FT reports. Operator Tokyo Electric Power said unusual amounts of five kinds of radioactive material had been found in water samples near the Fukushima Daiichi plant. One of the substances, Iodine-131, was found at nearly 127 times the permitted level. Officials said there was no immediate threat to human health from the apparent contamination of the water by radiation leaking from the power station, which had its cooling systems knocked out by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports, radiation levels in Tokyo tap water have been found to be more than twice what was considered safe for infants leading authorities to advise against consumption. Read more
There is a growing backlash in Japan about what many Japanese — and also expats, judging by sentiments voiced in conversations we’ve had in Tokyo — see as sensational or even hysterical reporting in the wake of Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Foremost are complaints about (mainly foreign) media coverage of Japan’s efforts to contain radioactive leakages from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, with some more extreme reports suggesting a nuclear holocaust is imminent. Read more
Radiation leaked into the sea from Japan’s crippled nuclear plant, contaminating the water and raising concern that fish and vegetables may become tainted, as workes at the plant continued to try to contain leakages at troubled reactors, reports Bloomberg. Japan has been battling for 12 days to prevent a meltdown at the nuclear plant. Electricity from the power grid and back- up power systems to the reactor were cut off and damaged in the March 11 quake and tsunami, leading to explosions at the steel- and-concrete structures around the reactors and overheating fuel rods.Tepco, the plant operator, expects to restore power to parts of the building housing the most damaged reactors, 1 through 4, by the end of Tuesday, a spokesman said. Reactors 5 and 6 were shut down before the earthquake and suffered little damage. Power was restored to those units this week. The government, which says it hasn’t detected radiation readings in food that might be harmful to health, dispatched a ship to the site as part of increased monitoring. Read more
Japan has widened a ban on shipments of spinach and milk from areas around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, after levels of radiation found in samples exceeded legal limits, reports the FT. Other countries including China and South Korea have stepped up monitoring of food imported from Japan. Tokyo Electric Power will compensate local farmers, the FT adds. Meanwhile, the food bans fuelled further tensions in Tokyo on Tuesday over the issue of whether Tepco or the government should be responsible for compensating farmers. Separately, the FT reports that the World Health Organisation described the contamination reports as “serious”. Read more