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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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WORLD
April 7, 2011 | Julie Makinen and Ralph Vartabedian
For nearly four weeks, Japanese emergency crews have been spraying water on the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, a desperate attempt to avert the calamity of a full meltdown. Now, that improvised solution to one nuclear nightmare is spawning another: what to do with the millions of gallons of water that has become highly radioactive as it washes through the plant. The water being used to try to cool the reactors and the dangerous spent fuel rods is leaking through fissures inside the plant, seeping down through tunnels and passageways to the lowest levels, where it is accumulating into a sea of lethal waste.
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
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 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.
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
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.
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.
SCIENCE
March 18, 2011 | By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times
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.
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