Friday, March 25, 2011

Japan Preparing More Evacuations Around Fukushima As Relief Efforts Continue

A new aerial video survey was taken over the stricken Fukushima reactor complex, and you can see snow falling, but more ominously is the steam that continues belching from the damaged reactor buildings.

That compares with the video taken during the tsunami as it roared ashore:

The ongoing nuclear emergency is forcing the Japanese government to expand evacuations around the Fukushima reactor complex.
Japan's government Friday urged residents living within 18 miles of the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant to voluntarily leave their homes and suggested that officials could expand the mandatory evacuation zone.

People living within 12 miles of the plant have been evacuated, yet those living between 12 and 18 miles of the facility have been told it is safe to remain as long as they stay indoors. But two weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the country and hobbled the plant, causing radiation to leak, the situation has yet to be resolved.

"It has become increasingly difficult for goods to arrive, and life has become harder," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said at a news conference. He called upon local governments in the zone near the plant to encourage people to leave. It was not immediately clear how many people remained within 18 miles of the plant.
It's feared that the radiation leaking from the reactor complex is much worse, particularly after several workers were injured by highly radioactive water.
The possible breach was suspected when two workers waded into water 10,000 times more radioactive than normal and suffered skin burns, according to the Nuclear and Industry Safety Agency.

"It is possible there may be damage somewhere in the reactor," spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said, adding that the cause of the burns still remains unclear.

Nishiyama said there is no data suggesting there were any cracks, and that a leak in the plumbing or the vents could be the cause.

Meanwhile, the death toll in Japan reached a milestone as NHK broadcasting reported the latest estimates of 10,175 people dead and more than 17,400 still missing since the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami rattled the country March 11.

The U.S. military is now taking a direct role in attempts to cool reactors at the damaged nuclear plant, according to U.S. and Japanese officials.

As a first step, the U.S. military plans to ship 525,000 gallons of fresh water on two U.S. Navy barges from a U.S. base in Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Forces Japan.
The move to ship fresh water is critical to restarting the coolant systems because the sea water contains salt that can gum up critical components and would need to be flushed out before they can be safely restarted.

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