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WORLD
March 22, 2011 | By Victoria Kim, Los Angeles Times
Radiation has been detected in seawater in areas surrounding the earthquake and tsunami-ravaged Fukushima nuclear plant in northeastern Japan, creating one more cause for concern after radiation was found in food items and tap water. Officials stressed that the levels -- which they said would have minuscule impact on the human body even if the seawater were ingested daily over a year -- were not cause for alarm. Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the plant, said it detected radioactive iodine-131 more than 125 times higher than the legal limit in a sample of ocean water found about 0.2 miles south of the Fukushima Daiichi plant on Monday, Kyodo News Agency reported.
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SCIENCE
March 12, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
Another nuclear reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 facility in Japan has lost its emergency cooling capacity, according to the Associated Press, bringing to three the number of reactors at that facility to fall prey to Friday's magnitude 8.9 earthquake and tsunami. Added to failure of three reactors at Fukushima No. 2, the count is now six overall. So far, the only reactor that seems to pose an immediate risk of widespread danger is one of the two shut-down reactors at Fukushima No. 1, also known as Fukushima Daiichi, which was disabled by an explosion overnight that destroyed the building housing the reactor and the backup cooling system.
WORLD
March 15, 2011 | By Kenji Hall and Carol J. Williams, Times Staff Writers
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.
WORLD
March 23, 2011 | By Julie Makinen and Don Lee, Los Angeles Times
[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.
WORLD
April 12, 2011 | By Kenji Hall and John M. Glionna, Los Angeles Times
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.
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.
SCIENCE
March 14, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
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.
WORLD
March 18, 2011 | By Laura King, Kenji Hall and Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times
Fighting exhaustion and radiation fears, engineers struggled anew Saturday to complete the crucial task of hooking up a damaged nuclear plant to the electricity grid to help cool damaged reactors. The official count of dead and missing in the quake and tsunami soared above 17,000, making this Japan's worst disaster since World War II. In the earthquake zone, tears trickled down the cheeks of some survivors and rescue workers as a solemn moment of silence was observed at 2:46 p.m. Friday, marking a week since the magnitude 9 temblor slammed Japan's northeastern coast.
OPINION
April 1, 2011 | By Anupam Chander
Since the nuclear plant disaster in Fukushima in Japan, the stock of the company that designed the reactors, General Electric, has fluctuated less than $1 a share. Meanwhile, the operator of the facility, Tokyo Electric Power Co., has seen its share price plunge more than 70%. The explanation: Japanese law reportedly limits liability to the operator, not the designer, of a nuclear power plant. A year ago, we heard similar arguments about the limited exposure of BP in the wake of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
SCIENCE
March 21, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
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.
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