Space Industry and Business News  





.
TECH SPACE
UN atomic watchdog raises alarm over Japan evacuations

by Staff Writers
Sendai, Japan (AFP) March 30, 2011
The UN atomic watchdog said Wednesday radiation in a village outside the evacuation zone around a stricken Japanese nuclear plant was above safe levels, urging that Japan reassess the situation.

In its first such call, the International Atomic Energy Agency added its voice to that of Greenpeace in warning over radioactivity in Iitate village, where the government has already told residents not to drink tap water.

Japan has struggled to contain its nuclear emergency since a 14-metre (45-foot) tsunami hit the Fukushima plant after a huge quake on March 11, with radioactive substances entering the air, sea and foodstuffs from the region.

Iitate village is 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of the crisis-hit plant -- outside both the government-imposed 20 kilometre exclusion zone and the 30-kilometre "stay indoors" zone.

"The first assessment indicates that one of the IAEA operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village," the IAEA's head of nuclear safety and security, Denis Flory, told reporters in Vienna on Wednesday.

The watchdog advised Japanese authorities to "carefully assess the situation and they have indicated that it is already under assessment," Flory said.

But he added the IAEA, which does not have the mandate to order national authorities to act, was not calling for a general widening of the exclusion zone.

Amid public fears over contamination from the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, campaign group Greenpeace called earlier Wednesday for the zone to be expanded to evacuate everyone within 30 kilometres of the plant.

It said the government should consider moving children and pregnant women beyond that, after urging Tuesday that residents of Iitate be moved.

Radiation expert Jan van der Putte said "remaining in Iitate for just a few days could mean receiving the maximum permissible annual dose of radiation".

On Wednesday he added: "Exposing a large number of people to this level of radiation creates a collective risk which is very significant over a long term, in terms of years. Our main concern is an increased incidence of cancer."

The reading in Iitate village was 2 megabecquerels per square metre, a "ratio about two times higher than levels" at which the IAEA recommends evacuations, said the head of its Incident and Emergency Centre, Elena Buglova.

The government on Monday told residents of Iitate not to drink tap water, with media reports saying 4,000 residents would be given bottled water.

Radiation worries in the area worsened Wednesday when iodine-131 detected in the Pacific Ocean water near Fukushima surged to a new high of 3,355 times the legal limit, officials said, against a previous high of 1,850 times the limit.

"The figures are rising further," said nuclear safety agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama. "We need to find out as quickly as possible the cause and stop them from rising any higher."

Japan has halted vegetable and dairy shipments from four prefectures around the plant and briefly said tap water in Tokyo should not be drunk by infants, but called for calm and said it was taking these measures as a precaution.

However pressure to come up with fresh ideas intensified Wednesday, as Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which operates the stricken plant, admitted it had no idea when the situation would be under control.

"Key factors are still unknown, such as how the nuclear incident will come to an end... In a word, the very difficult situation is expected to continue," TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata told reporters.

With crucial control room functions still disabled, experts are not sure what exactly is happening inside the stricken reactors -- and some international experts warned that a meltdown may already be in progress.

One of them is Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when it installed the Fukushima units, and who was quoted by Britain's Guardian newspaper.

Available reactor and radiation data from the troubled unit two "suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel" and onto the concrete floor, he was quoted as saying by the daily.

"I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."

Japan faces a dilemma in containing the crisis: it must pump water into reactors to stop them from overheating, even as highly radioactive runoff leaks out, halting crucial repair work and threatening the environment.

On Wednesday it was weighing a series of solutions, from draping reactors with special fabric to sending in military robots to do the risky work.

One stop-gap measure reported by local media involved covering three badly damaged outer reactor buildings with special fabric caps and fitting air filters to limit radiation.

Another plan was to anchor an empty tanker off reactor two, so that workers can pump several Olympic swimming pools' worth of highly-radioactive runoff water into its hull, media said.

"We are in an unprecedented situation, so we need to think about different strategies, beyond what we normally think about," an official with the nuclear safety agency told AFP.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the government and nuclear experts were discussing "every possibility, including those mentioned in the press".

Workers will on Thursday begin to carpet two-thirds of the plant's 1.2 hectares (three acres) of grounds with a resin to trap the radioactive particles, the agency said later.

The United States has lent Japan robots of a model battle-tested in Iraq and Afghanistan that can navigate, film and clear rubble in the blast-hit reactor buildings, which humans cannot enter because of very high radiation levels.

US President Barack Obama vowed continued help as he talked to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan for the third time since the disaster, which has left over 11,000 confirmed dead and more than 16,000 listed as missing.

"The United States is determined to support the people of Japan in their efforts to deal with the devastating effects of this tragedy, both in the short and the long term," Obama said, according to the White House.

The strain of the crisis appeared to have taken a toll on TEPCO's president Masataka Shimizu, 66, who was hospitalised Tuesday evening with high blood pressure and dizziness, having not appeared in public for over two weeks.

The company's shares have plunged to about a fifth of pre-quake levels amid heavy criticism, most recently over news that it ignored expert warnings on the threat of a tsunami before a giant wave crashed into the plant on March 11.

TEPCO chairman Katsumata said he saw little chance that the four stricken reactors in the six-reactor complex could ever resume operations.




Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Space Technology News - Applications and Research



Tempur-Pedic Mattress Comparison

Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News
TECH SPACE
Anti-radiation resin to coat Japan plant grounds
Osaka (AFP) March 30, 2011
Workers at Japan's stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant plan to spray its grounds with a special resin to prevent further radioactivity being released, a nuclear safety agency official said Wednesday. Faced with an unprecedented crisis, authorities are grappling to control four crippled reactors that have been leaking dangerous radiation after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out ... read more

.
Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
  


TECH SPACE
UN atomic watchdog raises alarm over Japan evacuations

Cancer Risk Of Backscatter Airport Scanners Is Low

IAEA worried about radiation in Japan village

Taiwan fair to see 100 tablet launches: organisers

TECH SPACE
Raytheon BBN Technologies To Protect Internet Comms For Military Abroad

Gilat Announces New Military Modem For Robust Tactical Satcom-On-The-Move

Advanced Emulation Accelerates Deployment Of Military Network Technologies

Tactical Communications Group Completes Deployment Of Ground Support Systems

TECH SPACE
Another Ariane 5 Completes Its Initial Build-Up At The Spaceport

Two Ariane 5 And One Soyuz Flights Are Now Being Prepared

ILS Protests Unfair Subsidies To Arianespace

SES And ILS Announce Launch Of SES-6 On ILS Proton In 2013

TECH SPACE
Compact-Sized GLONASS/GPS Receiver

GPS Mundi Releases Points Of Interest Files For Ten More Major Cities

LockMart GPS III Team Completes Key Flight Software Milestone

N. Korea rejects Seoul's plea to stop jamming signals

TECH SPACE
Qantas cuts staff, flights over fuel costs, disasters

Japan Airlines emerges from bankruptcy

Bombardier, COMAC team up to market, sell jetliners

China airlines to challenge EU carbon tax: report

TECH SPACE
Tiny 'On-Chip Detectors' Count Individual Photons

'Quantum' computers said a step closer

Pruned' Microchips Are Faster, Smaller, More Energy-Efficient

Silicon Spin Transistors Heat Up And Spins Last Longer

TECH SPACE
RIT Researchers Help Map Tsunami And Earthquake Damage In Japan

Against The Tide: Currents Keep Dolphins Apart

Measurements Of Winter Arctic Sea Ice Shows Continuing Ice Loss

Secretary Salazar Charts Future For Landsat Satellite Program

TECH SPACE
Smithsonian Scientists Help Block Ship-Borne Bioinvaders Before They Dock

Seven injured in Greek landfill protest clashes: officials

Race to save oil slicked penguins on remote British island

EPA proposes 1st mercury emissions limits


The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement