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SCIENCE
March 31, 2011 | By Alan Zarembo and Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
The nuclear crisis in Japan is far from over. In recent days, highly radioactive water has been discovered in tunnels under reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and radioactive plutonium has been found in the soil nearby. Efforts to contain the leaking radioactive material are underway, and cleanup will take far longer. Here are answers to some basic questions. How did plutonium get into the soil? In two samples, tests suggest that the plutonium came from the Fukushima reactors.
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WORLD
March 31, 2011 | Reuters
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on Thursday for a reform of global nuclear standards by the end of the year during a first visit by a foreign leader to Japan since the earthquake and tsunami that triggered its atomic disaster. Group of 20 Chairman Sarkozy said France wants to host a meeting of the bloc's nuclear officials in May to fix new norms in the wake of the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant. Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan supported the idea. "In order to avoid recurrence of such an accident, it is our duty to accurately share with the world our experience," he said at a joint news conference.
WORLD
March 30, 2011 | By Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
The chairman of the utility that runs the crippled Fukushima power plant on Wednesday said the facility's four tsunami-battered reactors would have to be scrapped, and he apologized to the Japanese public for the nuclear disaster. Tsunehisa Katsumata, chairman of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., expressed his deep remorse for the accident at Fukushima in northern Japan, including explosions, the release of radiation and contamination of crops and tap water. Although Katsumata referred only to scrapping reactors No. 1 through 4, government officials and other experts have been saying for more than a week that the entire complex, including the less problematic reactors 5 and 6, eventually would have to be decommissioned.
WORLD
March 29, 2011 | By Kenji Hall and Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
They sleep with just one blanket apiece anywhere there's space — in a conference room, in the hallway, near the bathroom. Because deliveries of supplies are limited, they get by on very little food: Breakfast is packages of high-calorie emergency crackers and a small carton of vegetable juice; dinner consists of a small bag of "magic rice" (just add bottled water) and a can of chicken, mackerel or curry. There is no lunch — handing out a noontime meal would be too complicated in the crowded two-story building.
SCIENCE
March 29, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan for the first time criticized Tepco, which owns the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, for inadequate preparations for a tsunami at the facility. The sea wall at the plant was designed to withstand an 18-foot wave, while the actual tsunami that struck after the magnitude 9 Tohoku earthquake was estimated to be more than 40 feet high. "It's undeniable their assumptions about tsunamis were greatly mistaken," Kan said Tuesday of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. in an address to the Japanese parliament.
SCIENCE
March 28, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Highly radioactive water is building up in tunnels underneath at least three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, impairing the ability of workers to reestablish power connections at the facility. Officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the facility, also said that tests last week found trace levels of plutonium in soil outside the plant, an indication that the containment vessel of reactor No. 3, the only one that is fueled with plutonium, may have been breached.
WORLD
March 27, 2011 | By Julie Makinen and Kenji Hall, Los Angeles Times
Officials at Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant late Sunday retracted their announcement that they had found puddles at the facility's No. 2 reactor containing 10 million times more radioactivity than would be found in water in a normally functioning nuclear reactor. "The number is not credible," Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita, said, according to the Associated Press. "We are very sorry. " It was not immediately clear what led to the inaccurate reading of the water, or what the real level was. The company said on its website that there was a "mistake in the assessment of the measurement of iodine-134.
WORLD
March 27, 2011 | By Julie Makinen and Kenji Hall, Los Angeles Times
For the better part of Sunday, media outlets in Japan and around the world carried scary-sounding news about radiation at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant's No. 2 reactor. In a typical report, Japanese broadcaster NHK said: "Power company says it has detected radioactive materials 10 million times normal levels. " After nightfall came the mea culpa. There was a "mistake in the measurement of the assessment" of radiation in a building near the reactor, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said on its website.
WORLD
March 26, 2011 | By Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
Japan's government urges residents within 18 miles of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to leave their homes, as new information suggests that the core of reactor No. 3 may have been breached. Japan's government Friday urged residents within 18 miles of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to leave their homes, as new information suggested that the core of reactor No. 3 may have been breached. Although people living within 12 miles of the plant were evacuated early in the crisis, those between 12 and 18 miles had been told it was safe to remain as long as they stayed indoors.
WORLD
March 25, 2011 | By Julie Makinen, Los Angeles Times
As Japan marked two weeks since the giant earthquake and tsunami, the number of people dead or missing grew to more than 27,000, with at least 200,000 others in shelters and radioactivity from a stricken nuclear plant continuing to cast a pall over daily life. Two workers at the hobbled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility were hospitalized for radiation exposure Thursday after stepping into contaminated water during repair operations at reactor No. 3, officials at the nation's nuclear safety agency said.
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