Monday, March 28, 2011

Radiation rises to scary new high at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant - and another earthquake hits

Readings at Fukushima nuclear facility were 100,000 times more radioactive than normal.
Readings at Fukushima nuclear facility were 100,000 times more radioactive than normal.
Radiation leaking at a crippled nuclear plant in Japan spiked to new highs on Sunday, hindering frantic efforts to avert an all-out meltdown.
Samples of tainted water in a flooded area of the Fukushima Daiichi facility showed readings 100,000 times more radioactive than normal.
As scientists grappled with the escalating peril at the plant, a 6.5-magnitude earthquake shook an already devastated northern Japan early Monday morning, triggering a new tsunami warning.
There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries from the latest shaker, and the tsunami alert was canceled within hours.
Frustration over how to bring the nuclear crisis under control skyrocketed Sunday when an inaccurate reading put radiation levels at 10 million times above normal.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co. apologized for the erroneous reading that prompted the immediate evacuation of the plant.
Naoki Sunoda, a spokesman for the utility, said workers are trying to determine the safest way to proceed in battling to prevent a meltdown of the damaged reactors.
Up to 600 technicians, firefighters and soldiers are working at the plant day and night, in spite of the radiation risk.
"Radiation levels are high, but nothing will be resolved if we stay away," Sunoda told reporters. "Our objective is to restore power to all reactors so cooling functions can be restored."
On Thursday, two workers were burned after they waded into highly radioactive water inside the plant's No. 3 reactor.

A masked survivor walks in the devastated city of Kesennuma on Sunday. (Yu/AP)
Engineers are pumping fresh water onto the plant to try to keep fuel rods inside the reactor cores and pools from being exposed to the air.
Evidence of the worsening conditions were shown in radioactive iodine levels of 1,150 times the legal limit in seawater about 1,000 feet offshore from the facility, causing new concerns about seafood contamination.
Japanese government spokesman Yukio Edano revealed Sunday that workers were also testing the areas around the plant's six reactors for the presence of leaked plutonium.
Sakae Muto, vice president of the power company, conceded that the time line for getting the overheated plant cooled down is uncertain.
"Regrettably, we don't have a concrete schedule at the moment to enable us to say in how many months or years [the crisis will be over]," Muto said.
Meanwhile, Japan's National Police Agency said Sunday that the death toll from the quake and tsunami had jumped to 10,668, with 16,574 people still missing.

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