Japan to Seek Direct U.S. Military Help to Cool Reactors

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japan-nuclear-reactorJapan will seek US military help to cope with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, its spokesman said, after the plant was evacuated of all emergency workers today. A second fire in the No.4 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi apparently burned itself out this morning but at the same time white steam and smoke began venting from the crippled No.3 reactor, source of the worst radiation levels at the plant.

As on-site levels soared and operator Tokyo Electric Power Co was still unable to get cooling water into No. 4 after more than a day, the remaining 50 people struggling to contain the plant crisis were evacuated.

“Probably we might need the help of the US military,” chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said in response to a question about the shortage of emergency radiation protection for the workers.

Radiation levels had begun to subside from the 10am peak, Mr Edano said.

But he conceded that the containment vessel for the No.3 reactor was probably breached – allowing uncontrolled release of irradiated gases and particle – as was feared for the No.2 reactor after an explosion on Sunday.

A Washington think-tank, Institute for Science and International Security warned the Fukushima situation had “worsened considerably” and could reach the maximum nuclear emergency level.

“This accident can no longer be viewed as a level 4 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Events scale that ranks events from 1 to 7,” ISIS said in a statement.

Noting that a level 4 incident involves “only local radiological consequences”, the institute said the crisis was “now closer to a level 6, and it may unfortunately reach a level 7”, a worst-case scenario with extensive health and environmental consequences.

Japan asked the International Atomic Energy to urgently send technical experts to Fukushima, 250km northeast of Tokyo.

“We want the IAEA team to go to the site as speedily as possible,” said ambassador Takeshi Nakane in Vienna overnight, who said the agency’s help was needed with environmental monitoring and coordination of international assistance to Japan.

General Electric, the US manufacturer of the six Fukushima reactors, all now more than 30 years old, has offered 1000 engineers to work on the multiple serious problems at the plant.

GE is also sending 10 truck-mounted generators – the shortage and unreliable supply of electricity is one of the largest problems for engineers and emergency service workers at Fukushima Daiichi.

Officials had earlier said they would use helicopters and fire trucks to spray water in a desperate effort to prevent further radiation leaks and to cool down the reactors.

Tens of thousands have been evacuated from a 20km zone around the plant, and thousands of others within a 20-30 km radius were urged to stay indoors.

The UN weather agency said winds were currently blowing radioactive material towards the ocean, and that there were “no implications” for Japan or nearby countries.

The prospect of a meltdown sent stocks and commodity prices plunging around the globe yesterday, as markets feared the crippling effects on the world’s third-largest economy.

In Japanese towns and cities, fearful citizens stripped shelves of food and water, prompting the government to warn that panic buying could hurt its ability to provide aid to areas devastated by Friday’s massive quake and tsunami.

In Tokyo, 250km to the southwest, authorities also said that higher-than-normal but not harmful radiation levels had been detected in the capital, the world’s biggest urban area.

But scared Tokyo residents filled outbound trains and rushed to shops to stock up on face masks and emergency supplies amid heightening fears of radiation headed their way.

The official death toll rose to 3,373 confirmed dead, police said, with the number of those unaccounted for at 6,746. Officials have said at least 10,000 were likely to have perished.

Sales of Geiger counters and potassium iodide supplements that can block some radiation have surged in the US since Friday, fueled by concerns among some Americans that radiation released from Japanese nuclear plants could spread.

{The Australian/Matzav.com Newscenter}


  1. That Japanese officials waited until now to request outside help with the reactors (my have been able to prevent some of the radiation spillage and injury), was a little bit of wicked arrogance. Now, they have been compelled to have more humility, realize their limitations, and ask for outside help.

    In general, this aspect of this terrible calamity shows the extreme limitations of human ability.

    See the superb (situation update) article at http://www.aolnews.com/2011/03/16/when-nuclear-plant-planning-for-the-worst-is-not-enough/?icid=main%7Chtmlws-main-n%7Cdl1%7Csec1_lnk3%7C206224. There, there is related in detail how the engineers who constructed the reactors DID go through the proper protocols of preparing and testing for major catastrophes, such as earthquakes and tsunamis. However, they did not think to plan for an earthquake and tsunami of this very high magnitude.


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