March 17, 2011 |
Who are the "Fukushima 50" -- the workers trying to take regain control of Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant? Twitter messages and blog posts by the workers' families offer an inkling of the "Fukushima 50," so nicknamed because the 180 employees at the site work in 50-person shifts. One of the workers is a veteran power plant worker, a 59-year-old who volunteered to take on the assignment, according to Jiji Press, a Japanese news wire service, quoting a woman who claimed to be his daughter on Twitter.
March 13, 2011 |
Japanese officials have begun pumping seawater into a second nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant 140 miles north of Tokyo to cool the reactor core in a last-ditch effort to stave off a core meltdown. The action indicates that the reactor's normal backup cooling system has failed and is no longer able to supply fresh water to the core. Officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the plant, have been struggling to keep six shut-down nuclear reactors cooled because seawater from the tsunami that followed Friday's magnitude 9.0 earthquake damaged the diesel generators that power the circulating pumps.
March 15, 2011 |
Another fire at Japan's stricken Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power complex broke out early Wednesday and authorities said about 70% of another reactor's fuel rods had been damaged by the spate of accidents and breakdowns since Friday's earthquake and tsunami. The ominous disclosure, after authorities insisted throughout the previous day that damage to the overheating reactors was negligible, compounded a sense of escalating hazards and fear five days after the disasters expected to take historic peacetime tolls on Japan's people and economy.
March 23, 2011 |
[Update 12:47 a.m.] Tokyo's utility company says black smoke has been seen emerging from Unit 3 of the crippled nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, prompting a new evacuation of the complex. Officials with Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that workers from the entire Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have been temporarily evacuated. _________________ Control room lights were on and electronic thermometers were functioning Wednesday at several of Japan's stricken nuclear reactors, marking small but potentially critical steps toward controlling overheated fuel that has been spewing radiation for more than a week.
March 14, 2011 |
The fuel rods at a third nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have been fully exposed to air for short periods of time and at least partially exposed for more than three hours, allowing them to heat up and sharply raising the risk of a meltdown, according to officials of the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the plant. The cooling problems at reactor No. 2 represent the most serious development in the ongoing problems at the nuclear power plant to date, according to nuclear specialist Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
April 12, 2011 |
Japanese nuclear regulatory officials Tuesday raised the severity rating at the earthquake- and tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant to the highest level by international standards, equaling the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in the former Soviet Union. The country's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency announced that because of the amount of radioactive material released from the plant after the magnitude 9 earthquake a month ago, the rating would be changed to level 7, a "major accident" on the International Atomic Energy Agency's scale, up from a level 5, an "accident with wider consequences.
March 27, 2011 |
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.
March 25, 2011 |
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.
March 21, 2011 |
Although officials of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday that conditions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant appear to have stabilized and that the containment vessels at three reactors had not been seriously breached, smoke was reported rising from two reactors Monday evening. The cause of the smoke was unknown, however, and it did not appear to be associated with a radiation spike. The executive director of the NRC, Bill Borchardt, said Monday that the agency's staff in Japan reported that the three reactors that had shut down following the magnitude 9.0 Tohoku earthquake 10 days ago probably have suffered some core damage but do not appear to be leaking significant quantities of radiation.
March 18, 2011 |
Engineers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant worked all day Friday attempting to connect a newly restored power line to reactors No. 1 and 2, but their task was repeatedly interrupted by the need to withdraw workers because of high radiation levels. The team said they hoped the task would be completed sometime Friday evening or in the early morning hours Saturday. It is not clear yet, however, whether restoring power to the two damaged reactors will help with cooling. Some engineers believe the cooling pumps were irretrievably damaged by the hydrogen explosions that wracked the reactor buildings in the first four days after the March 10 magnitude 9 Tohoku quake, or by corrosion from the seawater that has been pumped into the reactor.