Tsunami Related News

Japan Declares No-Go Zone Around Nuclear Plant 

Japan declared a 12-mile (20-kilometer) evacuation zone around its tsunami-crippled nuclear power plant a no-go zone on Thursday, urging residents to abide by the order for the sake of their own safety.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the order to take effect at midnight, was meant to prevent unrestricted entry into the mostly deserted area ordered evacuated after last month's tsunami and earthquake wrecked the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant's power and cooling systems.
He gave no details of penalties for violating the order.
"We beg the understanding of residents. We really want residents not to enter the areas," Edano said. "Unfortunately, there are still some people in the areas."
Officials said the order was meant to limit exposure to radiation leaking from the plant, and to control entry to prevent theft.
Edano said authorities would arrange brief visits for residents, allowing them to return for about two hours to collect necessary belongings. Residents would be required to go through radiation screening, he said.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan was visiting the region Thursday to meet with local officials and evacuees to discuss the plans for strict enforcement of the evacuation zone.
Almost all the area's nearly 80,000 residents left when the area was evacuated on March 12, but some have been returning and police could not legally block them.


Japan's Emperor Makes First Trip to Disaster Zone

Royal couple kneel on mats and speak quietly with earthquake and tsunami evacuees, some of whom wipe tears from their eyes.

Japan's revered emperor made his first trip Thursday to the disaster zone since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami destroyed much of the northeast coast and set off a crisis of radiation leaks at a flooded nuclear plant.
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited two evacuation shelters Thursday in Asahi city, about 54 miles east of Tokyo near the Pacific coast. The royal couple knelt on mats and spoke quietly with evacuees, who bowed deeply. Some wiped tears from their eyes.
Thirteen people died, and some 3,000 homes were damaged or destroyed in the city. The emperor and empress plan additional visits to other tsunami-affected areas in coming weeks. Overall, more than 26,000 people are believed to have died in the disaster, though only about 11,250 bodies have been recovered so far.
Nearly 140,000 people are still living in shelters after losing their homes or being advised to evacuate because of concerns about radiation leaking from the nearby Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.


One Month On, Japan Rattled by Big Aftershock

Separately, high radiation levels force expansion of the nuclear evacuation zone

Japan on Monday expanded the evacuation zone around its crippled nuclear plant because of high levels of accumulated radiation, as a strong aftershock rattled the area one month after a quake and tsunami sparked the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.
A magnitude 6.6 tremor shook buildings in Tokyo and a wide swathe of eastern Japan on Monday evening, killing one man, knocking out power to 220,000 households and causing a brief halt to water pumping to cool three damaged nuclear reactors.
The epicentre of quake, the biggest of several sizable aftershocks on Monday, was 56 miles east of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex at the centre of the crisis.
The biggest tremor forced engineers to postpone plans to remove highly contaminated water from one reactor, but nuclear safety officials said work had resumed by nightfall.
The government announced earlier that because of accumulated radiation contamination, it would encourage people to leave certain areas beyond its 12-mile exclusion zone around the plant.
Children, pregnant women, and hospitalised patients should stay out of some areas 12-19 miles from the nuclear complex, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.
"These new evacuation plans are meant to ensure safety against risks of living there for half a year or one year," he said. There was no need to evacuate immediately, he added.
The move comes amid international concern over radiation spreading from the six damaged reactors at Fukushima, which engineers are still struggling to bring under control after they were wrecked by the 15-meter tsunami on March 11.


Tsunami Warning After 7.4 Magnitude Japan Quake

Warning covers northeastern coast still reeling from last month's disaster

A magnitude 7.4 earthquake has hit off the coast of Japan, and authorities have issued a tsunami warning for the country's northeastern coast, which was already ravaged by last month's devastating quake and tsunami.
The warning is for a tsunami of as much as four feet, NBC News reported.
The quake hit 73 miles from Fukushima, where workers are still trying to contain the damage at a stricken nuclear plant, and 207 miles from Tokyo, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.


Japan Nuke Firm Offers 'Condolence Money'

Highly radioactive water continues to pour into the sea amid ongoing attempt to seal crack.

The operator of Japan's crippled nuclear power plant started paying "condolence money" Tuesday to victims of the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl as highly radioactive water continued to pour into the sea.
In desperation, engineers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant have turned to what are little more than home remedies to stem the flow of contaminated water.
On Tuesday, they used "liquid glass" in the hope of plugging cracks in a leaking concrete pit.
"We tried pouring sawdust, newspaper and concrete mixtures into the side of the pit (leading to tunnels outside reactor No. 2), but the mixture does not seem to be entering the cracks," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).
"We also still do not know how the highly contaminated water is seeping out of Reactor No. 2," said Nishiyama.
Workers are struggling to restart cooling pumps — which recycle the water — in four reactors damaged by last month's 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami.
Their problem is that until those are fixed, they must pump in water from outside to prevent overheating and meltdowns. The process creates more contaminated water that has to be pumped out and stored somewhere else or released into the sea.
TEPCO faces a huge bill for the damage caused by its crippled reactors, but said it must first assess the extent of damage before paying actual compensation.
"We are still in discussion as to what extent we will pay on our own and to what extent we will have assistance from the government," TEPCO executive vice-president Takashi Fujimoto told a news conference.
He said TEPCO offered 20 million yen ($238,000) in condolence money to towns near the reactors whose residents were forced to evacuate.


Japan Nuke Plant Dumps Radioactive Water In Sea  

Russian treatment ship requested as water is pumped out of crippled power facility

Workers were pumping more than 3 million gallons of contaminated water from Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear power complex into the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, freeing storage space for even more highly radioactive water that has hampered efforts to stabilize the plant's reactors.

The government also asked nuclear superpower Russia to send a special radiation treatment ship used to decommission nuclear submarines as it fights to contain the world's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl, Japanese media said late on Monday. The plant also plans to bring in a floating storage facility.
But these other storage options have been slow to materialize, so the pumping began late Monday. It was expected to take about two days to get most of the less-radioactive water out.
"The measure was to prevent highly radioactive water from spreading. But we are dumping radioactive water, and we feel very sorry about this," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference Tuesday.
Radioactivity is quickly diluted in the ocean, and government officials said the dump should not affect the safety of seafood in the area.
The crisis has unfolded as Japan deals with the aftermath of twin natural disasters that devastated much of its northeastern coast. Up to 25,000 people are believed to have died and tens of thousands lost their homes.
Since the disaster, water with different levels of radioactivity has been pooling throughout the plant. People who live within 12 miles (20 kilometers) have been evacuated and have not been allowed to return.


Radioactive Water Leak From Reactor Stopped


Tokyo (CNN) -- The leak of highly radioactive water into the Pacific from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has stopped, Tokyo Electric Power Company said early Wednesday.
The leak had stopped as of 5:38 a.m. Wednesday (4:38 p.m. ET), said the company, which runs the plant.
Earlier, Tokyo Electric officials had said an attempt to plug the leak had shown a "significant difference," despite the material not setting as hoped. The company had injected a silica-based polymer dubbed "liquid glass" to reduce the leak.
The utility's assessment comes after the country's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the substance had not hardened as expected. The material had been pumped from below into the leaking shaft at the plant's No. 2 reactor.

The news was a bright spot amid a series of setbacks Japanese authorities faced Tuesday, including the detection of radiation in a fish and news that the water gushing into the Pacific had radiation levels millions of times above the regulatory limit. Readings from samples taken Saturday in the concrete pit outside the turbine building of the No. 2 reactor -- one of six at the crisis-plagued plant -- had radiation 7.5 million times the legal limit, a TEPCO official said. Newer findings, from Tuesday afternoon, showed a sizable drop to 5 million times the norm.


Efforts to Plug Japanese Reactor Leak Are 


TOKYO — Workers’ desperate struggle to plug a gush of highly contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, using sawdust, shredded newspaper and an absorbent powder, appeared to be failing late Sunday as the radiation threat from the crippled plant continued to spread

Water containing high amounts of radioactive iodine has been spewing directly into the Pacific Ocean from a large crack discovered Saturday in a 6-foot-deep pit at the coastal Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. After an unsuccessful attempt to flood the pit with concrete to stop the leak, workers on Sunday turned to trying to plug the apparent source of the water — an underground shaft thought to lead to the damaged reactor building — by plugging the shaft with a makeshift putty: more than 120 pounds of sawdust, three garbage bags full of shredded newspaper and about 9 pounds of a polymeric powder that officials said absorbs 50 times its volume of water.
Although the stopgap measure did not appear to be succeeding, workers would keep trying to stem the leak, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Experts estimate that about 7 tons an hour of radioactive water is escaping the pit. Safety officials have said that the water, which appears to be coming from the damaged No. 2 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, contains one million Becquerels per liter of iodine 131, or about 10,000 times levels normally found in water at a nuclear facility.
“There is still a steady stream of water from the pit,” Mr. Nishiyama said, but workers would continue to “observe and evaluate” the situation overnight.
The leak underscores the dangerous side effects of the strategy to cool the plant’s reactors and spent fuel storage pools by pumping them with hundreds of tons of water. While much of that water evaporates, a significant portion also turns into dangerous runoff that has been discovered accumulating in various parts of the plant, endangering workers at the plant and hindering repair efforts. Last week, three workers were injured when they stepped into a pool of radioactive water inside one of the plant’s turbine buildings.
Workers have in recent days tried to clear the contaminated pools, but have struggled to find enough places to store the water. Meanwhile, higher-than-normal levels of radiation have been detected in waters near the plant, raising fears of damage to sea life.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator, has said it has little choice but to pump more water into the reactors at the moment, since the normal cooling systems at the plant are inoperable and more radioactive material would be released if the reactors were allowed to melt down fully or if the rods caught fire.
Still, some experts expressed bewilderment at what they called an 11th-hour, improvised bid to plug the leak.
“I’ve never heard of anything like it at a nuclear power plant,” said Itsuo Kimura, Emeritus Professor at Kyoto University and director of the Japan-based Institute of Nuclear Technology. What is really needed, he said, is for the cooling systems to come back online at the plant’s six reactors. Those cooling systems work by circulating water around the nuclear fuel, producing little runoff.
“That is the best way to stop the leakage of radioactive water,” Mr. Kimura said. “But for now, they have to stop the water leaking the best they can.”

Japan Tsunami Debris to Wash Up on West Coast

But it'll likely take one to three years for beachcombers to see it show up

John Anderson has discovered just about everything during the 30 years he's combed Washington state's beaches — glass fishing floats, hockey gloves, bottled messages, even hundreds of mismatched pairs of Nike sneakers that washed up barnacled but otherwise unworn.
The biggest haul may come in one to three years when, scientists say, wind and ocean currents eventually will push some of the massive debris from Japan's tsunami and earthquake onto the shores of the U.S. West Coast.
"I'm fascinated to see what actually makes it over here, compared to what might sink or biodegrade out there," said Anderson, 57, a plumber and avid beachcomber who lives in the coastal town of Forks, Wash.
The floating debris will likely be carried by currents off of Japan toward Washington, Oregon and California before turning toward Hawaii and back again toward Asia, circulating in what is known as the North Pacific gyre, said Curt Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer who has spent decades tracking flotsam.
Ebbesmeyer, who has traced Nike sneakers, plastic bath toys and hockey gloves accidentally spilled from Asia cargo ships, is now tracking the massive debris field moving across the Pacific Ocean from Japan.
"If you put a major city through a trash grinder and sprinkle it on the water, that's what you're dealing with," he said.
As to whether any of the debris might be radioactive from the devastation at Japanese nuclear power plants, James Hevezi, chair of the American College of Radiology Commission on Medical Physics, said there could be.

Missing Workers Found Dead at Japan Nuclear Plant

Effort to plug up leak of radioactive water into Pacific Ocean fails

Two missing Fukushima nuclear plant workers were found dead on Sunday as more highly radioactive water spilled into the sea and authorities struggled to seal the leak.
Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s announcement Sunday is the first confirmation of deaths at the plant. The workers had been missing since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Spokesman Naoki Tsunoda said the bodies were found Wednesday and had to be decontaminated. The announcement was delayed out of consideration for the families.
Also, the National Police Agency said that 12,009 people were officially reported dead and 15,472 missing in the aftermath of the magnitude-9.0 earthquake, which spawned a devastating tsunami on March 11.
The tsunami damaged the plant, leading to the world's worst nuclear crisis since the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.
On Saturday, workers discovered an 8-inch-long crack in a maintenance pit at the Fukushima plant that they said was believed to have been caused by the earthquake. Water containing levels of radioactive iodine far above the legal limit spilled from it into the Pacific, said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
A picture released by TEPCO shows water shooting some distance away from a wall and splashing into the sea, though the amount of water was not clear. The contaminated water was expected to quickly dissipate in the ocean but could pose a danger to workers at the plant.

Radiation may prevent recovery of some bodies in Japan

Tokyo (CNN) -- Thousands of Japanese, still awaiting answers on the fate of their loved ones nearly three weeks after an immense earthquake and subsequent tsunami, were dealt another blow Thursday.

Media reports suggest their relatives' bodies, located near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, may not be recovered because of radiation fears.

Authorities may not be able to reach some bodies -- victims of the 9.0-magnitude quake and resulting tsunami March 11 -- inside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone surrounding the crippled plant, because of high levels of radiation, Japanese news outlets reported.

No one knows exactly how many bodies are unrecovered inside the evacuation zone. Fukushima Prefecture police told CNN on Thursday that police were unable to recover one body, that of a man, in the town of Okuma after high levels of radiation were detected. Because officials were unable to bring the body back, they moved it from its outside location to under a roof, police said.

The reports, however, raise a grim possibility for loved ones: that their relatives' bodies may by lying inside the evacuation zone and may not be recovered -- a painful situation for Japanese, who typically stage elaborate Buddhist funerals and cremate their dead.

In Fukushima Prefecture, 4,760 people remain missing. Their names, addresses and photos are listed on websites by relatives desperate for answers.

But, police noted, authorities have already gone through the area to search for the missing. They are unaware of any bodies on the streets. Police conceded some could be indoors, but said they do not believe that number is high.

Bodies can absorb radiation much like any other object, said Dr. Wally Curran, head of Emory University's Winship Cancer Center and a radiation oncologist. Proper handling of the bodies would depend on their levels of radioactivity, he said, and would have to be assessed by those on the ground.

"It's a real tragedy," he said. "I'm sure the recovery workers will be assessing the radioactivity in any of the remains of people, animals and buildings as they go along. Hopefully, if they do find a large number of bodies, they can still be dealt with respectfully."

Three Day Intensive Search for Missing Tsunami Victims Begins

The Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. military began on Friday a three-day intensive search for those still missing three weeks after a quake-triggered massive tsunami wiped out a swath of coastal cities and towns in Japan's northeast.
Using dozens of ships and helicopters, about 18,000 SDF personnel and about 7,000 U.S. military personnel will engage in the operation, with members of the police, the Japan Coast Guard and fire departments also taking part, according to the Defense Ministry and other sources.
The areas covered include shores that were largely submerged or remain under water and mouths of major rivers in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, which were hit hard by the March 11 tsunami, within about 18 kilometers from the coastline.
The tsunami and the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that triggered it has claimed at least 11,578 lives in 12 prefectures and has left at least 16,451 people officially unaccounted for as of Friday morning.
Many of those who remain missing are believed to have been carried offshore after the tsunami struck the Pacific coast following the quake, which occurred off northeastern Japan.
The latest search drive was timed to coincide with a spring tide that began Friday, while search efforts hit a snag in coastal areas that remain flooded. The tide, with waters ranging between high and low maximum, makes it easier to find victims when it ebbs.
About 100 aircraft and 50 ships from the SDF are to engage in the operation, with about 20 aircraft and 15 ships taking part from the U.S. military. Divers from the SDF, police, the coast guard and fire departments are also being mobilized.
However, the search will not be conducted within a 30-kilometer radius of the crisis-stricken Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Fukushima Prefecture, which is leaking radioactive materials into the environment, according to the authorities.
With elevated levels of radiation observed in the area, local residents have been ordered to leave a 20-km exclusion zone, while those who live in a 20-30 km ring have been instructed to stay indoors.

High Radiation Found Far From Japan Nuke Plant

Atomic watchdog: Criteria for evacuation exceeded in village 25 miles from reactors

Radiation levels recorded at a village about 25 miles from a stricken nuclear power plant are over recommended levels, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday.
The official said the IAEA has told Japan of the finding.
Iitate village lies northwest of the Fukushima Dai-ichi facility, beyond the 19-mile zone in which Japan has urged people to evacuate.
"The first assessment indicates that one of the IAEA operational criteria for evacuation is exceeded in Iitate village," IAEA official Denis Flory told a news conference.
Japan set up a 12.5-mile evacuation zone around the plant and maintained that people living further away were safe for about two weeks. However, as the crisis worsened, officials started advising people living up to 19 miles away to consider leaving voluntarily.
Flory also said that Singapore had told the U.N. nuclear watchdog that some cabbages imported from Japan had radiation levels up to nine times the levels recommended for international trade.
Radiation has seeped into the soil and seawater near the stricken nuclear facility and made its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far as Tokyo, 140 miles to the south.


Japan Engineers Knew Nuke Plant Vulnerable to Tsunami

Study by utility found a roughly 10 percent chance that a tsunami could test or overrun the defenses of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant

Over the past two weeks, Japanese government officials and Tokyo Electric Power executives have repeatedly described the deadly combination of the most powerful quake in Japan's history and the massive tsunami that followed as "soteigai," or beyond expectations.
When Tokyo Electric President Masataka Shimizu apologized to the people of Japan for the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant he called the double disaster "marvels of nature that we have never experienced before."
But a review of company and regulatory records shows that Japan and its largest utility repeatedly downplayed dangers and ignored warnings — including a 2007 tsunami study from Tokyo Electric Power Co's senior safety engineer.
"We still have the possibilities that the tsunami height exceeds the determined design height due to the uncertainties regarding the tsunami phenomenon," Tokyo Electric researchers said in a report reviewed by Reuters.


Workers Endure Austere Conditions In Averting Nuclear Disaster

Tokyo (CNN) -- They sleep anywhere they can find open space -- in conference rooms, corridors, even stairwells. They have one blanket, no pillows and a leaded mat intended to keep radiation at bay.
They eat only two meals each day -- a carefully rationed breakfast of 30 crackers and vegetable juice and for dinner, a ready-to-eat meal or something out of a can.They clean themselves with wet wipes, since the supply of fresh water is short.
These are the grueling living conditions for the workers inside Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. They've been hailed as heroes risking their lives by braving high levels of radiation as they work to avert a nuclear meltdown.
But until now, the outside world has known little about the workers' routine.
Tuesday, safety inspector Kazuma Yokota, who spent five days at the plant last week, spoke with CNN about the plight of the 400 workers staying in a building within 1 kilometer (.6 of a mile) of Reactor No. 1. Japanese officials ordered mandatory evacuations for everyone else within 20 (12.4 miles) kilometers of the plant.
The workers look tired, Yokota said. They are furiously connecting electrical cables, repairing instrument panels and pumping radioactive water out.
They work with the burden of their own personal tragedies always weighing heavily.
"My parents were washed away by the tsunami, and I still don't know where they are," one worker wrote in an e-mail that was verified as authentic by a spokesman for the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the Fukushima plant.
"Crying is useless," said another e-mail. "If we're in hell now, all we can do is crawl up towards heaven."
But they are doing it all with the kind of determination required in a task with such high stakes. There's no room for plummeting morale and the workers are not showing any signs of spirits flagging, Yokota said.
However upbeat the workers are, there's no denying the conditions are beyond difficult.
"On the ground at the nuclear power plant, the workers are working under very dangerous and very hard conditions, and I feel a great deal of respect for them," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters Tuesday.
The workers spend three days on site and go off for one. They start their work day at 8 a.m. and go for 12 long hours.
Gary Was, a nuclear engineering expert at the University of Michigan, told CNN Tuesday that contaminated seawater brings potential danger "and they need to take all precautions."
Particulates that land on the skin or are ingested "can be a constant source of radiation into the future," Was said. "You need to be very careful not to ingest any of that."
Was said officials need to remove and store contaminated water.
Last week, three men who were laying electrical cable in the turbine building of the No. 3 reactor stepped in tainted water, exposing themselves to high levels of radiation. Tokyo Electric apologized and said their exposure might have been avoided with better communication.
Radiation alarms went off while the three men were working, but they continued with their mission for 40 to 50 minutes after assuming it was a false alarm. They were hospitalized after it was determined they had been exposed to 173 to 181 millisieverts of radiation -- two of them with direct exposure on their skin. They were later released.
By comparison, a person in an industrialized country is naturally exposed to 3 millisieverts per year, though Japan's Health Ministry has said that those working directly to avert the nuclear crisis could be exposed to as much as 250 millisieverts before they must leave the site.
The incident also prompted further criticism of Tokyo Electric and how well it is safeguarding the workers.
Yokota said the power company hoped to improve living conditions for the workers by moving them to another facility. Edano said officials also hope to find replacements in order to relieve the workers at the plant.
Until then, they will continue as the faceless heroes in Japan's tragedy, the nation's only hope of thwarting further disaster.

Highly Radioactive Water Found In Tunnel Outside Nuclear Plant

Tokyo (CNN) -- Water found in a tunnel at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has alarmingly high radiation readings, officials said Monday, adding that it is unclear how or why the tainted water got out of the building.
The water at the plant is emitting more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour of radioactivity -- a level the plant's owner had said is at least 100,000 times normal levels for coolants inside a nuclear reactor.
It was in a tunnel that contains electrical cables and is connected to the No. 2 reactor's turbine building, an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The measurements were taken Monday afternoon.
Earlier, officials had announced that 1,000 millisieverts per hour of radiation was emanating from water pooling inside the No. 2 unit turbine building's basement.
The officials said they don't know how or why the contaminated water got out of the building and into the tunnel, or if it might have spilled out and seeped into the Pacific Ocean.
The measurement is more than 330 times the dose an average person in a developed country receives per year, and four times the top dose Japan's health ministry has set for emergency workers struggling to control the further emission of radioactive material from the damaged plant.
"Is the water overflowing or not?" Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official with Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency, said Monday evening. "Right now, it is not known."
On Monday, the agency reported that seawater tested at an offshore monitoring post near the plant's Nos. 5 and 6 nuclear reactors had radiation levels 1,150 times the control level.
This is north of the discharge canal for the Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 reactors, where a reading of 1,850 times normal was recorded Sunday.
Readings of atmospheric radiation taken Monday near the No. 2 unit's tunnel came in between 100 and 200 millisieverts, according to Nishiyama.
This figure is much higher than the measurements outside of the plant's gates, but still less than a 400-millisieverts-per-hour reading measured between Units 3 and 4 on March 15.
Authorities also worked Monday to test water and airborne radiation readings in tunnels coming from the Nos. 1 and 3 reactor's turbine buildings, where highly radioactive water was also found in those structures' respective basements.
Both the water and air around the No. 1 unit's tunnel measured 0.4 millisieverts per hour of radiation, Nishiyama said.
The atmospheric radiation reading outside of the No. 3 unit's tunnel was 0.8 millisieverts, but debris and damage caused by the March 11 quake and subsequent tsunami prevented authorities from getting a reliable reading of radioactivity in the water in that tunnel.
Three pumps are being used to pump water from the basement of the No. 1 turbine building. But Nishiyama noted that there is no place to put water pooled in the No. 2 building's basement.
The plan is to extract the water using what he called a condenser. But that apparatus is "almost full," as are several storage tanks nearby. A similar challenge is holding up the removal of collected water in the No. 3 unit's turbine building basement.
"So we will first have to empty some of the tanks," he said, adding later only that the tainted water needs to be removed "as soon as possible." "Once that process is over, the puddle would be removed."

Japan: Huge Radiation Spike at Plant Was a Mistake

Measurement of at 10 million times higher than normal 'not credible,' plant official says

Emergency workers struggling to pump contaminated water from Japan's stricken nuclear complex fled from one of the troubled reactors Sunday after reporting a huge increase in radioactivity — a spike that officials later apologetically said was inaccurate.
The apology came after employees fled the complex's Unit 2 reactor when a reading showed radiation levels had reached 10 million times higher than normal in the reactor's cooling system. Officials said they were so high that the worker taking the measurements had withdrawn before taking a second reading.
On Sunday night, though, plant operators said that while the water was contaminated with radiation, the extremely high reading was a mistake.
"The number is not credible," said Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman Takashi Kurita. "We are very sorry."
He said officials were taking another sample to get accurate levels, but did not know when the results would be announced.
The situation came as officials acknowledged there was radioactive water in all four of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex's most troubled reactors, and as airborne radiation in Unit 2 measured 1,000 millisieverts per hour — four times the limit deemed safe by the government, Kurita said.
Officials say they still don't know where the radioactive water is coming from, though government spokesman Yukio Edano has said some is "almost certainly" seeping from a cracked reactor core in one of the units.
While the discovery of the high radiation levels — and the evacuation of workers from one reactor unit — again delayed efforts to bring the deeply troubled complex under control, Edano insisted the situation had partially stabilized.
"We have somewhat prevented the situation from turning worse," he told reporters Sunday evening. "But the prospects are not improving in a straight line and we've expected twists and turns. The contaminated water is one of them and we'll continue to repair the damage."
The discovery over the last three days of radioactive water has been a major setback in the mission to get the plant's crucial cooling systems operating more than two weeks after a massive earthquake and tsunami.

Plutonium Found In Soil Outside Japanese Nuke Plant

Tiny amounts of plutonium have been detected in the soil outside of the stricken Japanese nuclear complex, the plant operator said Monday.

Experts had expected traces would be detected once crews began searching for it, because plutonium is present in the production of nuclear energy.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the amounts found at five sites during testing last week were very small and were not a risk to public health.
TEPCO official Jun Tsuruoka said only two of the plutonium samples were believed to be from a leaking reactor. The other three samples were from earlier nuclear tests, he said. Years of weapons testing in the atmosphere have left trace amounts of plutonium in many places around the world.
But finding plutonium is a concern because it is the most toxic of isotopes that can be released from a nuclear reactor. It can be fatal to humans in very tiny doses and does not decay quickly.
The report followed another discovery Monday: New pools of radioactive water are leaking from the plant.
Officials believe the contaminated water was responsible for radioactivity levels soaring at the coastal complex on Sunday, causing more radiation to seep into soil and seawater, before levels fell again.
Experts warn that Japan faces a long fight to contain the world's most dangerous atomic crisis in 25 years.

Nurse Haunted by Screams of Patients She Could Not Save As Tsunami Hit

Rikuzen-Takata, Japan (CNN) -- At a hospital in northeastern Japan, the remnants of lives stolen in seconds are scattered on each of its four floors. Metal beds are bent, I-V bags are filled with muddy water, and blood pressure monitors sit underneath splintered trees.

But Takata Hospital nurse Fumiko Suzuki doesn't just see the damage, she hears the haunted screams of the patients she could not save."The patients couldn't walk," said Suzuki, recalling the moment the tsunami hit.

"I heard someone screaming, 'Auntie, I can't save you. I'm sorry.' Then she ran out of the room." Suzuki said a glance out of the window revealed a wave as high as the fourth floor.

The nurse said she told the patient "I'm sorry" as she raced up the stairs.

"If I tried to save this person who was lying on the bed, I would have lost my life as well," she said. Suzuki pauses, grief etched on her face.

"It is the biggest regret I have," she said of leaving patients behind. The tsunami following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 engulfed every floor of the hospital just as Suzuki stepped onto the roof. At least 10,901 were killed nationwide.

Of the 51 patients hospitalized, doctors and nurses could not move 12 and they drowned in their beds, said Mikihito Ishiki, a medical director at the hospital. One patient died as the hospital staff moved him to the roof while two more died on the frigid roof awaiting rescue.

"Ten of my staff also died with the patients," Ishiki said. The doctor lost his staff, his patients and the hospital he proudly called his home. His wife remains missing and is presumed dead. 

As soon as rescuers plucked the doctor from the engulfed building, he started working from a makeshift clinic on higher ground. The doctor's composure cracks as he lifts a handwritten note from a satellite phone sitting in his clinic. "Yokosawa is helping us from heaven," he reads, referring to a 60-year-old hospital administrator, Shigeru Yokosawa, set to retire in April. After the tsunami warning, Ishiki asked Yokosawa to find the satellite phone on the first floor of the hospital. Satellite phones are vital lines of communication after a natural disaster because phone lines are usually knocked out.

Yokosawa got the phone and moments before a massive wave swallowed him, tossed it to a colleague, who ran to the roof. Seconds later, the tsunami engulfed the hospital. His sacrifice is part of the reason Ishiki won't leave this clinic, now fully operational and treating patients across Rikuzen-Takata. His fellow survivors tirelesslesly work along him.

Suzuki, who brought her elderly and sick mother to the clinic, said the doctors and nurses can't feel guilty for surviving the disaster. "When I hear that," she said, "it breaks my heart. It's a natural disaster. They want to save everyone, but in this situation, they can't."

Suzuki said she is grateful to see familiar faces of her colleagues, and hope they realize they are making a difference in the present. She pushes her pain -- the loss of her home, her friends and her relatives -- to the back of her mind as she focuses on her patients. The town has given her not just a refuge from the pain, but donations of clothes for days she's not wearing her nurse uniform.

"Whatever the situation, I will stay here. Talking with the patients will be my cure. I feel like I'm not the one taking care of others, but the one being taken care of," she said.


Japan Calls Off Tsunami Advisory

   Monday's 6.5-magnitude temblor was located near the site of the 9.0-magnitude March 11 earthquake.

(CNN) -- Japanese authorities on Monday called off a tsunami advisory after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake off the country's northeast coast produced little more than ripples.However, the Japan Meteorological Agency urged coastal residents to remain prepared to evacuate because of a continued threat of aftershocks that could spawn tsunamis.Authorities issued a tsunami advisory Monday morning for coastal areas of Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan after a quake struck the region at 7:24 a.m. The tsunami advisory was cancelled at 9:05 a.m.

The tsunami height had been expected to climb to half a meter, or 1.6 feet, tall. Video of the coastal area in the tsunami zone aired by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed slight ripples to the water, which "could be indicative of rises" in water levels, CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras said.

Hirofumi Yokoyama, a meteorological official, said Monday's temblor was the latest of a series of aftershocks to rattle the region since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami it triggered devastated coastal villages, killed thousands of people and set off Japan's worst nuclear disaster since World War II.

"We have to be ready for jolts with the intensity of 6 or so, and so people have to be on the alert," Yokoyama told reporters.

Yokoyama said aftershocks of this magnitude could still produce dangerous tsunamis. The Monday morning quake struck about 70 miles east of Sendai at a depth of 3.7 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, not far from where the March 11 quake hit.


Dangerous Breach Suspected at Japan Nuke Site

'We are not in a position where we can be optimistic,' prime minister says; workers hurt after wading into water 10,000 times more radioactive than normal

A suspected breach in the core of a reactor at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant could mean more serious radioactive contamination, Japanese officials revealed Friday, as the prime minister called the country's ongoing fight to stabilize the plant "very grave and serious."
A somber Prime Minister Naoto Kan sounded a pessimistic note at a briefing hours after nuclear safety officials announced what could be a major setback in the urgent mission to stop the plant from leaking radiation, two weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami disabled it.
"The situation today at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant is still very grave and serious. We must remain vigilant," Kan said. "We are not in a position where we can be optimistic. We must treat every development with the utmost care."
The uncertain situation halted work at the nuclear complex, where dozens of workers had been trying feverishly to stop the overheated plant from leaking dangerous radiation. The plant has leaked some low levels of radiation, but a breach could mean a much larger release of contaminants.
Suspicions of a possible breach were raised when two workers waded into water 10,000 times more radioactive than is typical and suffered skin burns, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said.
Kan apologized to farmers and business owners for the toll the radiation has had on their livelihoods: Several countries have halted some food imports from areas near the plant after milk and produce were found to contain elevated levels of radiation.

Workers from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex are shielded with tarps before receiving decontamination treatment at a hospital on Friday.

New Problems at Japanese Plant Subdue Optimism

Engineers say some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks are still ahead

The Japanese electricians who bravely strung wires this week to all six reactor buildings at a stricken nuclear power plant succeeded despite waves of heat and blasts of radioactive steam.
The restoration of electricity at the plant, the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, stirred hopes that the crisis was ebbing, but nuclear engineers say some of the most difficult and dangerous tasks are still ahead — and time is not necessarily on the side of the repair teams.
The tasks include manually draining hundreds of gallons of radioactive water and venting radioactive gas from the pumps and piping of the emergency cooling systems, which are located diagonally underneath the overheated reactor vessels. The health warning that infants should not drink tap water — even in Tokyo, far from the stricken plant — raised alarms about extensive contamination.
“We’ve got at least 10 days to two weeks of potential drama before you can declare the accident over,” said Michael Friedlander, who worked as a nuclear plant operator for 13 years.
Western nuclear engineers have become increasingly concerned about a separate problem that may be putting pressure on the Japanese technicians to work faster: salt buildup inside the reactors, which could cause them to heat up more and, in the worst case, cause the uranium to melt, releasing a range of radioactive material.
Richard T. Lahey Jr., who was General Electric’s chief of safety research for boiling-water reactors when the company installed them at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said that as seawater was pumped into the reactors and boiled away, it left more and more salt behind.
He estimates that 57,000 pounds of salt have accumulated in Reactor No. 1 and 99,000 pounds apiece in Reactors No. 2 and 3, which are larger.
The big question is how much of that salt is still mixed with water and how much now forms a crust on the reactors’ uranium fuel rods. Chemical crusts on uranium fuel rods have been a problem for years at nuclear plants.
Crusts insulate the rods from the water and allow them to heat up. If the crusts are thick enough, they can block water from circulating between the fuel rods. As the rods heat up, their zirconium cladding can ignite, which may cause the uranium inside to melt and release radioactive material.
Some of the salt might be settling to the bottom of the reactor vessel rather than sticking to the fuel rods. But just as a heating element repeatedly used to warm tea in a mug tends to become encrusted in cities where the tap water is rich with minerals, boiling seawater is likely to leave salt mainly on the fuel rods.
The Japanese have reported that some of the seawater used for cooling has returned to the ocean, suggesting that some of the salt may have flowed out again rather than remaining in the reactors. But clearly a significant amount remains.


Radiation in Tokyo Tap Water is Double The Amount Safe for Infants

Black smoke prompts evacuation at radiation-leaking Fukushima plant

A spike in radiation levels in Tokyo tap water spurred new fears about food safety Wednesday as rising black smoke forced another evacuation of workers trying to stabilize Japan's radiation-leaking nuclear plant.
Radiation has seeped into vegetables, raw milk, the water supply and seawater since a magnitude-9 quake and killer tsunami crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant nearly two weeks ago. Broccoli was added to a list of tainted vegetables, and U.S. officials announced a block on Japanese dairy and other produce from the region.
The crisis is emerging as the world's most expensive natural disaster on record, likely to cost up to $309 billion, according to a new government estimate. The death toll continued to rise, with more than 9,400 bodies counted and more than 14,700 people listed as missing.
Concerns about food safety spread Wednesday to Tokyo after officials said tap water showed elevated levels: 210 becquerels per liter of iodine-131 — more than twice the recommended limit of 100 becquerels per liter for infants. The recommended limit for adults is 300 becquerels.
"It is really scary. It is like a vicious negative spiral from the nuclear disaster," said Etsuko Nomura, a mother of two young children ages 2 and 5. "We have contaminated milk and vegetables, and now tap water in Tokyo, and I'm wondering what's next."
Infants are particularly vulnerable to radioactive iodine, which can cause thyroid cancer, experts say. The limits refer to sustained consumption rates, and officials urged calm, saying parents should stop giving the tap water to babies, but that it was no worry if the infants already had consumed small amounts.
They said the levels posed no immediate health risk for older children or adults.
"Even if you drink this water for one year, it will not affect people's health," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.
Tokyo residents shouldn't worry, said Dr. Lim Sang-moo, director of nuclear medicine at the Korea Cancer Center Hospital in Seoul.
Parents might want to be more cautious if they have a choice. "Nobody wants to drink radioactive water," he said. But "it's not a medical problem but a psychosocial problem: The stress that people get from the radioactivity is more dangerous than the radioactivity itself."
Experts also say iodine-131 dissipates quickly in the air, with half of it disappearing every eight days.
Richard Wakeford, a public health radiologist at the University of Manchester in Britain, blamed the spike in radiation on a shift in winds from the nuclear plant toward Tokyo. He predicted lower levels in coming days once the wind shifts back to normal patterns.
"I imagine that bottled water is now quite popular in Tokyo," he said.


Lines Hooked to Japan Nuclear Plant, But Power Stays Off During Safety Checks

Atomic safety agency says radiation still leaking at Fukushima

Workers reconnected power lines to all six reactor units at Japan's radiation-leaking nuclear plant Tuesday, its operator said, marking a significant step in bringing the overheated complex under control.
However, problems were far from over as a senior U.N. atomic agency official said on Tuesday that radiation is continuing to be emitted from Japan's Fukishima Dai-ichi site but it is unclear exactly what the source of it is, a senior U.N. atomic agency official said on Tuesday.
"We continue to see radiation coming from the site ... and the question is where exactly is that coming from?" James Lyons, a senior official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a news conference.
Other repercussions from the massive earthquake and tsunami March 11 continued to ripple across the nation as economic losses mounted at three of Japan's flagship companies
In making an announcement after days of anxious waiting by the public, Tokyo Electric Power Co. cautioned that much work needed to be done before the electricity can be turned on. Workers are checking all additional equipment for damage to make sure cooling systems can be safely operated, Tokyo Electric said.
Late Tuesday night, Tokyo Electric said lights went on in the central control room of Unit 3, but that doesn't mean power had been restored to the cooling system. Officials will wait until sometime Wednesday to try to power up the water pumps to the unit.
In another advance, emergency crews dumped 18 tons of seawater into nearly boiling storage pool holding spent nuclear fuel, cooling it to 105 degrees Fahrenheit, Japan's nuclear safety agency said. Steam, possibly carrying radioactive elements, had been rising for two days, and the move lessens the chances that more radiation will seep into the air.
The power lines and the sustained dousing together mean authorities are closer to bringing the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, with its six reactors and spent fuel pools, under control. Officials and experts, however, have said days, even weeks would be needed to replace damaged equipment and vent any volatile gas to make sure electricity does not spark an explosion.

Spent Fuel Pool At Japan Nuke Site Heating Up, Official Says

If water in the pool bubbles away and exposes fuel rods, more radiation would be released

A Japanese nuclear safety official said on Tuesday that a pool for storing spent fuel at the crippled nuclear plant was heating up, with temperatures around the boiling point.

The hot storage pool is another complication in bringing the plant under control and ending a nuclear crisis that followed the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the northeast coast. If water in the pool bubbles away and exposes fuel rods, more radiation would be released.
Nuclear safety agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama told reporters that the high temperatures in the spent fuel pool are believed to be the cause of steam that has wafted from Fukushima Dai-ichi's Unit 2 since Monday.
Meanwhile, seawater near the Fukushima plant was showing elevated levels of radioactive iodine and cesium, prompting the government to test seafood.
Also on Tuesday, the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, said power lines had been hooked up to all six reactor units. TEPCO cautioned that workers must check pumps, motors and other equipment before the electricity is turned on.
Reconnecting the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex to the electrical grid is a significant step in getting control of the overheated reactors and storage pools for spent fuels. But it is likely to be days if not longer before the cooling systems can be powered up, since damaged equipment needs to be replaced and any volatile gas must be vented to avoid an explosion.
No-man's land Earlier, Japan said there was no need to extend a 12-mile evacuation zone around its tsunami-damaged nuclear plant, despite elevated radiation readings outside the area.

More than 170,000 people have been moved out of the zone, a virtual no-man's land, since an earthquake and 30-ft tsunami smashed into the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex on March 11.
"At the moment, there is no need to expand the evacuation area," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a briefing.
The latest available readings from an area six miles outside the evacuation zone show a level of 110 microsieverts per hour in the air, well below a level that would cause health risks but much higher than normal background levels.
It is unclear what background levels would have been this far away from the plant before the tsunami struck, but a reading of 110 microsieverts is roughly 3,000 times Tokyo's normal pre-disaster background level.
Exposure to 100,000 microsieverts a year is the lowest level at which any increase in cancer risk is clearly evident.
The government is advising people living within six miles of the evacuation zone to stay indoors, but radiation in the atmosphere is not the only problem for these people with some food and even tap water having been found to be contaminated.
Elevated levels of radioactive cesium particles in the air are causing particular concern, because cesium can linger longer than, say, radioactive iodine, another element that has been found not only in the atmosphere but also in tap water.
Edano said there were no health risks, even at the highest cesium readings.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said that radiation seeping into the environment is a concern and needs to be monitored. "We are still in an accident that is still in a very serious situation," said Graham Andrew, senior adviser to IAEA chief Yukiya Amano.
Tainted food Radiation fears are reaching well beyond those living near Fukushima and the 430,000 displaced by the earthquake and tsunami to encompass large segments of Japan. Traces of radiation are being found in vegetables and raw milk from a swath of farmland, forcing a government ban on sales from those areas.
China, Japan's largest trading partner, has ordered testing of imports of Japanese food. The World Health Organization has urged Japan to adopt stricter measures and reassure the public.
Government officials and health experts say the doses are low and not a threat to human health unless the tainted products are consumed in abnormally excessive quantities. But the government measures to release data on radiation amounts, halt sales of some foods and test others are feeding public worries that the situation may grow more dire.
People at Fukushima city's main evacuation center waited in long lines for bowls of hot noodle soup. A truck delivered toilet paper and blankets. Many among the 1,400 people living in the crowded gymnasium came from communities near the nuclear plant and worry about radiation and weary of the daily routine of the displaced.
"It was an act of God," said Yoshihiro Amano, a grocery store owner whose house is 4 miles from the reactors. "It won't help anything to get angry. But we are worried. We don't know if it will takes days, months or decades to go home. Maybe never. We are just starting to be able to think ahead to that."

'Crisis is still going on' at Japan nuclear plant
Workers flee two units; traces of radiation found in vegetables, some water

Gray smoke rose from two reactor units Monday, temporarily stalling critical work to reconnect power lines and restore cooling systems to stabilize Japan's radiation-leaking nuclear complex.

Workers are racing to bring the nuclear plant under control, but the process is proceeding in fits and starts, stalled by incidents like the smoke and by the need to work methodically to make sure wiring, pumps and other machinery can be safely switched on.
"Our crisis is still going on. Our crisis is with the nuclear plants. We are doing everything we can to bring this to an end," Gov. Yuhei Sato of Fukushima prefecture, where the plant is located, told the more than 1,000 people moved away from the plant into a gymnasium. "Don't give up. We know you are suffering."
"Please get us out of here," yelled Harunobu Suzuki, a 63-year-old truck driver.
What caused the smoke to billow first from Unit 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant and later from Unit 2 is under investigation, nuclear safety agency officials said. In the days since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami wrecked the plant's cooling systems, both reactors have overheated and seen explosions. Workers were evacuated from the area to buildings nearby, though radiation levels remained steady, the officials said.
Smoke rises Monday from the site housing Unit 3 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.
Problems set off by the disasters have ranged far beyond the devastated northeast coast and the wrecked nuclear plant, handing the government what it has called Japan's worst crisis since World War II. Rebuilding the ruined northeast coast may cost as much as $235 billion. Police estimate the death toll will surpass 18,000.
Traces of radiation are tainting vegetables and some water supplies, although in amounts the government and health experts say do not pose a risk to human health in the short-term. China, Japan's biggest trading partner, ordered testing of Japanese food imports for radiation contamination.

"Please do not overreact, and act calmly," said Chief Cabinet spokesman Yukio Edano in the government's latest appeal to ease public concerns. "Even if you eat contaminated vegetables several times, it will not harm your health at all."

However, the health ministry has urged some residents near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to stop drinking tap water after high levels of radioactive iodine were detected.
Japan is a net importer of food, but has substantial exports — mainly fruit, vegetables, dairy products and seafood — with its biggest markets in Hong Kong, China and the United States.
The World Health Organization said Monday that radiation entering the food chain was a "serious situation."
"It's a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometers (12 to 18 miles)," Peter Cordingley, spokesman for the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office for the Western Pacific, told Reuters. "It's safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone."
He added that there was no evidence of contaminated food from Fukushima reaching other countries.
But Tsugumi Hasegawa was skeptical as she cared for her 4-year-old daughter at a shelter in a gymnasium crammed with 1,400 people about 50 miles from the plant.
"I still have no idea what the numbers they are giving about radiation levels mean. It's all so confusing," said Hasegawa, 29, from the small town of Futuba in the shadow of the nuclear complex. "And I wonder if they aren't playing down the dangers to keep us from panicking. I don't know who to trust."
"There's no way I can check if those radioactive particles are in my tap water or the food I eat, so there isn't much I can really do about it," added Setsuko Kuroi, an 87-year-old woman shopping in a Tokyo supermarket with a white gauze mask over her face.
The troubles at Fukushima have in some ways overshadowed the natural catastrophe, threatening a wider disaster if the plant spews more concentrated forms of radiation than it has so far.
The nuclear safety agency and Tokyo Electric reported significant progress over the weekend and Monday. Electrical teams, having finished connecting three of the plant's six units, worked to connect the rest by Tuesday, the utility said.
Once done, however, pumps and other equipment have to be checked — and the reactors cleared of dangerous gas — before the power can be restored. For instance, a motorized pump to inject water into Unit 2's overheated reactor and spent fuel storage pool needs to be replaced, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA.

Family Mourns American Teacher's Death In Japan

The body of Taylor Anderson, left, a 24-year-old teacher, has been found in Japan, her family says. She was last seen in Ishinomaki, Japan, on March 11 after the earthquake.

An American family was in mourning Monday after learning that their daughter and sibling, a teacher and lifelong student of Japanese culture, had been found dead in Japan –- the first known American victim of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Taylor Anderson, a 24-year-old from Richmond, Va., had lived in Japan since August 2008. She was last seen after the powerful earthquake struck Japan on March 11, riding her bike away from the school where she taught after helping to get her students home.
“It is with deep regret that we inform you that earlier this morning we received a call from the U.S. Embassy in Japan that they had found our beloved Taylor's body,” the Anderson family wrote in a statement. “We would like to thank all those (whose)  prayers and support have carried us through this crisis.  Please continue to pray for all who remain missing and for the people of Japan.”
Anderson’s family, who had mounted a long-distance search for Anderson, could not immediately be reached for comment.
But a Facebook poster, who gave his name as Ramon Badcock, said he met Anderson in Japan and will remember her positive spirit.
"She was of a rare breed of people, always happy and positive, kind and generous, with a smile that seemed to go on forever," he wrote in an email to msnbc.com. "I will mourn, but more importantly I will celebrate her life, for it was a beautiful life and I know she would prefer that."
Until Monday's announcement, none of the estimated 50,000-plus Americans living in or visiting Japan when the quake hit had been confirmed killed. The U.S. State Department said it was seeking further information regarding the death.
Most of Taylor’s friends and colleagues in the JET Programme (the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme), stayed at their schools overnight after the quake, but not Taylor, said her sister, Julia Anderson.
“Taylor helped in the evacuation of the students onto the athletic field, waited for parents to pick up the students and whoever was leftover went to higher ground. Taylor decided to go back to her apartment, but by her bike, and so we know she left her school and that’s the last we know,” Anderson said late last week.
“Shortly thereafter, the tsunami warning sirens started to sound," her father, Andy, a 53-year-old real estate developer, said last week. “She probably had 10, 15 minutes of bike riding before the water hit.”
Taylor, who was living in Ishinomaki in Miyagi prefecture, started learning Japanese when she was in middle school, and eventually minored in Asian Studies at college. When she left for Japan, the departure was emotional but the family was proud of her. 
“She was living the life that she always wanted and she was getting to know a culture she was always fascinated with,” Julia said last week. “Her students loved her.”

Tsunami disruption spreads deep into Japan

MORIOKA, Japan (AFP) – Ten days after Japan's tsunami disaster, towns far from the impact zone are still experiencing shortages that have thrown the neat, ordered lives of local residents completely out of gear.
Gas station queues stretching for several kilometres, long waits at supermarkets, empty store shelves and shuttered businesses have become a part of the landscape in post-tsunami Japan.
At the foot of the Mount Iwate volcano, the people of Morioka city -- almost 100 kilometres (60 miles) west of the devastated coast -- are still trying to adjust to the sudden absence of many things they had simply taken for granted.
At a gas station on the outskirts of the city, motorists waited hours on end before finally reaching the gas pump, clutching a 2,000 yen ($25, 17 euros) daily rationing coupon in their hands. The coupon is barely enough to buy a third of a tank on an average-sized city car.
One man wasted so much gas queuing up that his car ran dry and needed several people to push it up to the station.
Kabuya Kubo said she had waited for nearly six hours to put gas in her tank. Ever since the tsunami, she has had to bike to work whenever the car runs low on fuel -- a one-hour trip, versus 15 minutes by car.
"Now, again, I realize that electricity, gas, all of that is really important," she said. "Because there's no gas, I can't go anywhere that's far away. It's difficult."
Most gas stations have been cordoned off or closed for the better part of the day due to disruptions in the supply system caused by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami that devastated Japan's northeastern coastline.
The tidal wave that intruded 10 kilometres (six miles) inland in certain areas engulfed large tracts of arable land in the agriculturally rich prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.
"There are no more meat and vegetables. I'm eating instant meals all the time," said Naohiko Seki. "I would like to regain my old life, but when I think about people who suffered from the tsunami, I tell myself I shouldn't complain."
A ramen noodle restaurant on the main shopping street downtown only offered a single type of plain fried rice for sale. There were no customers in sight at 2:00 pm and the usually busy room stood empty.
"Ever since the disaster, our suppliers haven't been able to reach us. We haven't been getting many customers recently," said cook Toshiyo Sasaki.
"Our restaurant is usually open 24/7 but now we can't stay open all the time. We have reduced working hours because we can't get the products we need."
As fresh produce grows scarcer, restaurants are serving more prepared foods and noodle- or rice-based dishes than ever before.
Convenience stores, usually open around the clock, had row after row of empty shelves, where prepared foods like the normally ubiquitous 'onigiri' rice balls, water and milk products once stood.
Popular French bakery Pompadour opened at 1:00 pm and had sold out its entire stock of bread and pastries in two hours.
Outside a shopping mall, a handful of school students held up signs about the tsunami disaster and asked customers for donations to buy food and clothes for the victims.
A group of green-clad boy and girl scouts on the main shopping street also urged passersby to donate -- and many did, even encouraging their young children to drop a few coins in the box.
Yoshii Sato said he was a "little afraid" for his very young daughter.
"It's really strange. The stores have almost no baby food and other items. It makes me uneasy and anxious. I am worried because I don't know whether or not I will be able to buy what my child needs," he said.
Still, Sato stressed that others had to cope with much worse.
"In Morioka, we are getting by okay, but toward the coast, many more people have lost their homes and are forced to suffer. We feel very sad for them."

Radiation In Japan's Food 'More Serious Than Anybody Thought In The Early Days'

Contaminated vegetables and milk stoke anxiety; workers evacuated from site after smoke rises from reactor unit

The World Health Organization said on Monday that radiation in food after an earthquake damaged a Japanese nuclear plant was a "serious situation," eclipsing the first clear signs of progress in a battle to avert a catastrophic meltdown in the reactors.
Engineers have restored electricity to three reactors at the Fukushima complex, 150 miles north of Tokyo, and hope to soon test water pumps there to reverse the overheating that has triggered the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.
The Japanese government says the March 11 earthquake and tsunami left more than 21,000 people dead or missing and will cost the economy some $250 billion in damages.
The health ministry has urged some residents near the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant to stop drinking tap water after high levels of radioactive iodine were detected.
Cases of contaminated vegetables and milk have already stoked anxiety despite assurances from officials that the levels are not dangerous. The government has prohibited the sale of raw milk from Fukushima prefecture and spinach from a nearby area.
"Quite clearly it's a serious situation," Peter Cordingley, Manila-based spokesman for the World Health Organization's (WHO) regional office for the Western Pacific, told Reuters.
"It's a lot more serious than anybody thought in the early days when we thought that this kind of problem can be limited to 20 to 30 kilometers (12 to 18 miles) ... It's safe to suppose that some contaminated produce got out of the contamination zone."
He added that there was no evidence of contaminated food from Fukushima reaching other countries.
'So confusing'
Japan is a net importer of food, but has substantial exports — mainly fruit, vegetables, dairy products and seafood — with its biggest markets in Hong Kong, China and the United States.
The government halted shipments of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the nuclear plant after tests found iodine exceeded safety limits. But the contamination spread to spinach in three other prefectures and to more vegetables — canola and chrysanthemum greens. Tokyo's tap water, where iodine turned up Friday, now has cesium. Rain and dust are also tainted.


Listen To Japan's Massive Quake

Tsunami Takes Miyako City, Iwate, Japan


Radiation Found In Japanese Milk, Spinach

Official insists contaminated foods 'pose no immediate health risk'; situation at nuke plant 'stabilizing'

In the first sign that contamination from Japan's stricken nuclear complex had seeped into the food chain, officials said Saturday that radiation levels in spinach and milk from farms near the tsunami-crippled facility exceeded government safety limits.

Minuscule amounts of radioactive iodine also were found in tap water Friday in Tokyo and elsewhere in Japan — although experts said none of those tests showed any health risks. The Health Ministry also said that radioactive iodine slightly above government safety limits was found in drinking water at one point Thursday in a sampling from Fukushima prefecture, the site of the nuclear plant, but later tests showed the level had fallen again.
Six workers trying to bring the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant back under control were exposed to more than 100 millisieverts of radiation — Japan's normal limit for those involved in emergency operations, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the complex. The government raised that limit to 250 millisieverts on Tuesday as the crisis escalated.
Officials said the crisis at the plant appeared to be stabilizing, with near-constant dousing of dangerously overheated reactors and uranium fuel, but the situation was still far from resolved.
"We more or less do not expect to see anything worse than what we are seeing now," said Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Japan has been grappling with a cascade of disasters unleashed by the 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11. The quake spawned a tsunami that ravaged Japan's northeastern coast, killing more than 7,600 people and knocking out cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, causing the complex to leak radiation.
More than 11,000 people are still missing, and more than 452,000 are living in shelters.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, meanwhile, insisted the contaminated foods "pose no immediate health risk."

The tainted milk was found 20 miles from the plant, a local official said. The spinach was collected from six farms between 60 miles and 75 miles to the south of the reactors.
Those areas are rich farm country known for melons, rice and peaches, so the contamination could affect food supplies for large parts of Japan.
More tests were being done on other foods, Edano said, and if they show further contamination, then food shipments from the area would be halted.
Officials said it was too early to know if the nuclear crisis caused the contamination, but Edano said air sampling done near the dairy showed higher-than-normal radiation levels.
Iodine levels in the spinach exceeded safety limits by three to seven times, a food safety official said. Tests on the milk done Wednesday detected small amounts of iodine-131 and cesium-137, the latter being a longer-lasting element that can cause more types of cancer. But only iodine was detected Thursday and Friday, a Health Ministry official said.

Japan Races To Restore Power At Crippled Reactors

'Work has so far not progressed as fast as we had hoped,' official says.

Low levels of radiation have been detected well beyond Tokyo, which is 150 miles (240 kilometers) south of the plant, but hazardous levels have been limited to the plant itself. Still, the crisis triggered by last week's earthquake and tsunami has forced thousands to evacuate and drained Tokyo's normally vibrant streets of life, its residents either leaving town or holing up in their homes.
The official death toll from the disasters stood at 5,692 as of Friday morning, with 9,522 missing, the national police agency said.
President Barack Obama appeared on television to assure Americans that officials do not expect harmful amounts of radiation to reach the U.S. or its territories. He also said the U.S. was offering Japan any help it could provide, and said he was asking for a comprehensive review of U.S. nuclear plant safety.
Japanese and American assessments of the crisis have differed, with the plant's owner denying Jazcko's report Wednesday that Unit 4's spent fuel pool was dry and that anyone who gets close to the plant could face potentially lethal doses of radiation. But a Tokyo Electric Power Co. executive moved closer to the U.S. position Thursday.


US Raises New Alarm Over Japan Nuclear Crisis

Atomic energy chief says 'extremely high' radiation levels at one damaged reactor

The United States expressed increasing alarm Wednesday about the the threat posed by Japan's nuclear crisis, with its top nuclear energy chief suggesting that one crippled reactor was in danger of a complete meltdown.
The U.S. urged Americans to evacuate a wider area around the plant. Other governments advised their citizens to leave the country altogether.
Amid the controversy, Japan's military began dropping water from a helicopter onto another crippled reactor.
Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, painted a much bleaker picture of the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant than Japanese officials. He told a congressional hearing in Washington that all the water was gone from the spent fuel pools at Unit 4, one of six reactors at the complex.
"There is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures," he said.
Japanese officials denied that all the cooling water was gone. Hajime Motojuku, spokesman for plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., said the "condition is stable" at Unit 4.
If Jaczko is correct, it would mean there's nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down. The outer shells of the rods could also ignite with enough force to propel the radioactive fuel inside over a wide area.
Jaczko did not say how the information was obtained, but the NRC and U.S. Department of Energy both have experts at the Fukushima complex along Japan's northeastern coast, which was ravaged by last week's magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

As international concern mounted, the chief of the U.N. nuclear agency said he would go to Japan to assess what he called a "serious" situation and urged Tokyo to provide better information to his organization.
Yukiya Amano of the International Atomic Energy Agency spoke of a "very serious" situation and said he would leave for Tokyo within a day.

He said it was "difficult to say" if events were out of control, but added, "I will certainly have contact with those people who are working there who tackled the accident, and I will be able to have firsthand information."
The U.S. Air Force said an unmanned drone was scheduled to fly over the Fukushima plant Thursday to collect data and images for the Japanese government, Lt. Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, said in an e-mail reported by Bloomberg.
The drone, best known for missions over Iraq and Afghanistan and which started flying anti-drug missions over Mexico last month, “is being used to help assess damage to towns, industrial infrastructure, and other facilities affected during the earthquake and flood waters,” U.S. Pacific Air Forces said.
Japanese officials raised hopes of easing the crisis on two fronts.
Two Japanese military CH-47 Chinook helicopters began dumping seawater on the damaged reactor of Unit 3 at the Fukushima complex at 9:48 a.m., said defense ministry spokeswoman Kazumi Toyama. The first water-dropping operation was completed at around 10:15 a.m.
A helicopter accompanying the Chinooks measured radiation levels.
The dumping was intended both to help cool the reactor and to replenish water in a pool holding spent fuel rods, Toyama said. The plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co., or TEPCO, said earlier that the pool was nearly empty, which might cause the rods to overheat.
A high-pressure fire truck from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is also set to begin spraying water onto the No. 4 reactor building.
Also Thursday officials said that they were close to completing a new power line that could restore the reactors' cooling systems.
Naoki Tsunoda, a TEPCO spokesman, said the new power line to the plant was almost finished and that officials planned to try it "as soon as possible." Kyodo said that could be as early as Thursday afternoon.

Devastation of Japan In Photos 
Sometimes listening to the news and hearing people talk about what is going on is sometimes not enough to understand the severity and gravity of situations. Everyone knows about Japan's crisis and how it is effecting the world. But I wanted to post these pictures so that we can truly see the devastation of what has occurred. It doesn't get  more raw than this. This will show how in just 5 days, a powerful nation was brought to heel by mother nature and how this can happen to everyone of us in a moment's notice. Lastly, I wanted to post this so that not only can we see what has occurred but also to have the victims of this catastrophic disaster be heard. Not only the living but the ones who lives were snuffed out and were never able to truly say goodbye, I hope that in some small way, this brings you some peace. I will warn you all that some of these photos will be hard to witness.

Tsunami tidal waves hit houses after a powerful earthquake in Natori on Friday, March 11.

A massive tsunami hits the coastal areas of Iwanuma, Miyagi prefecture.

Whirlpools are caused by a tsunami in Fukushima prefecture on Saturday.
WARNING: Next Image may be disturbing to some Viewers!

                                                                            A victim of the disaster lies on the stairs of a destroyed house in Sendai, Japan, March 13.

A Japanese home is seen adrift in the Pacific Ocean, in this photograph taken on March 13 and released on March 14. Ships and aircrafts from the U.S. Navy's Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group are searching for survivors in the coastal waters near Sendai.

A pleasure boat sitting on top of a building amid a sea of debris in Otsuchi town in Iwate prefecture on March 14.
Oil leaks from ships that sank following the tsunami in Fudai Village, Iwate prefecture on Monday.

Japanese vehicles pass through the ruins of the leveled city of Minamisanriku, northeastern Japan, on Tuesday March 15
A man shops in a convenience store where shelves on food aisles are left empty in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan on Tuesday, four days after a powerful earthquake-triggered tsunami hit Japan's east coast.

A couple walks under falling snow amongst the rubble in Yamada, Iwate prefecture, on Tuesday.
A town clock lies stopped at 03:00 p.m. in the tsunami-devastated city of Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, northern Japan on Tuesday.The strong magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit at 2:46 p.m. on March 11, and the first wave of tsunamis reached the city at 3:01 p.m.

A baby is tested for radiation in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture in northern Japan on Tuesday.
 Soldiers and a rescue worker carry the body of a resident through Kesennuma City on Tuesday, March 15, days after the area was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami.

Members of the Japan Self Defense Force walk in a deployment line as they search tsunami damaged parts of Ofunato on Tuesday.

Bodies found in the ruins of the devastated residential area of Otsuchi are collected in a sports hall, Tuesday. In the fishing town of Otsuchi, 12,000 out of a population of 15,000 have disappeared.

I hope this gives more insight to how demolished this country is. There are TONS more pictures but these seemed very powerful and moving to me. If you would like to see the rest, please click on the link below.

How Real is Radiation Threat?


Fire Flares Up as Japan Nuclear Plant Spews Radioactivity

A fire broke out anew at an earthquake-damaged nuclear reactor Wednesday, a day after the power plant emitted a burst of radiation that panicked an already edgy Japan.
Nuclear power plant operator Tokyo Electric Power, or TEPCO, said it is considering dispersing boric acid, a fire retardant, from a helicopter over the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant's No. 4 reactor, where flames and smoke from the outer housing of the containment vessel were no longer visible three hours after they broke out.
However, Japan's nuclear safety agency said it was unable to confirm that the blaze had been put out.
The newly troubled reactor left the Japanese government struggling to contain a spiraling crisis caused by last week's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami. The plant sent low levels of radiation wafting into Tokyo, prompting some people to flee the capital and triggering growing international alarm.
The reactor is one of four in serious trouble at the Dai-ichi plant, home to six reactors.
On Tuesday, a fire broke out in the same reactor's fuel storage pond — an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool — causing radioactivity to be released into the atmosphere. TEPCO said the new blaze erupted because the initial fire had not been fully extinguished.
The earlier blast and fire at Unit 4 cracked the roof of the reactor building.
Two workers inside the unit were missing after the first fire, Japan's nuclear safety agency said. The status of the nuclear reactor and storage pool inside the building was not known.
Also Wednesday, TEPCO estimated an estimated 70 percent of the nuclear fuel rods have been damaged at the No. 1 reactor and 33 percent were damaged at the No. 2 reactor.
The reactors' cores are believed to have partially melted when the Friday quake disrupted  their cooling functions, the Kyodo News Agency said.
Officials were also concerned about the reactors in Units 5 and 6.
Units 5 and 6 were loaded with nuclear fuel but not producing when Friday's quake and tsunami struck. They had been considered stable, but on Tuesday a senior Japanese official said temperatures there were also slightly elevated.
"The power for cooling is not working well and the temperature is gradually rising, so it is necessary to control it," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.
"Plant operators were considering the removal of panels from units 5 and 6 reactor buildings to prevent a possible buildup of hydrogen," the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement.
"It was a buildup of hydrogen at units 1, 2, and 3 that led to explosions at the Dai-ichi facilities in recent days," it added.
After the first Unit 4 fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the pool used to cool the spent fuel rods might still be boiling, though the reported levels of radiation had dropped dramatically by evening.
Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water. It had not been emitted directly by fuel rods, which would be far more virulent, they said.
"It's not good, but I don't think it's a disaster," said Steve Crossley, an Australia-based radiation physicist.
The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said. But they acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers.
Tuesday night, Japan ordered TEPCO to inject water into the pool "as soon as possible to avert a major nuclear disaster."
The IAEA also said Tuesday that an explosion Monday at the plant, this one within Unit 2, "may have affected the integrity of its primary containment vessel." That means radioactivity could be leaking from the containment vessel.
After the first Unit 4 fire, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said low levels of radiation had spread from the complex along Japan's northeastern coast.

"The possibility of further radioactive leakage is heightening," a grim-faced Kan said in an address to the nation.
Levels of 400 millisieverts per hour had been recorded near unit 4 after the first fire, the government said. Exposure to over 100 millisieverts a year is a level which can lead to cancer, according to the World Nuclear Association.
The radiation releases prompted Japan on Tuesday to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors and a 30-kilometer (19-mile) no-fly zone was imposed around the site for commercial traffic.


Japanese Students Talk About Their Homeland

Source Via Source

Japan 'Overwhelmed By The Scale of Damage'

Bodies wash up along devastated coastline; coffins in short supply

A tide of bodies washed up along the coastline on Monday and crematoriums were overwhelmed as Japan faced a mounting humanitarian, nuclear and economic crisis following the massive earthquake and tsunami.
Millions of people were facing a fifth day without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures along the devastated northeast coast. Meanwhile, a third reactor at a nuclear power plant lost its cooling capacity, raising fears of a meltdown, while the Japanese stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda.
On the coastline of Miyagi prefecture, which took the full force of the tsunami, a Japanese police official said 1,000 bodies were found scattered across the coastline on Monday. The Japanese news agency Kyodo reported that 2,000 bodies washed up on two shorelines in Miyagi.
While the official death toll rose to nearly 1,900, the discovery of the washed-up bodies and other reports of deaths suggest the true number is much higher. In Miyagi, the police chief has said 10,000 people are estimated to have died in his province alone.
In nearby Soma, the crematorium was unable to handle the crush of bodies being brought in for funerals.
"We have already begun cremations, but we can only handle 18 bodies a day. We are overwhelmed and are asking other cities to help us deal with bodies. We only have one crematorium in town," said Katsuhiko Abe, an official in Soma.
In Japan, most people opt to cremate their dead, a process that requires permission first from local authorities. But the government took the rare step Monday of waiving that requirement to speed up funerals. 
"The current situation is so extraordinary, and it is very likely that crematoriums are running beyond capacity," said Health Ministry official Yukio Okuda.
Friday's double-headed tragedy has caused unimaginable deprivation for people of this industrialized country that has not seen such hardships since World War II. 
The quake, originally listed as a magnitude 8.9, was upgraded Monday to 9.0 by the U.S. Geological Survey. The change means that the quake was about 1.5 times stronger than initially thought.
In many areas there is no running water, no power and five-hour lines for gasoline. People are suppressing hunger with instant noodles or rice balls while dealing with the loss of loved ones and homes. 
"People are surviving on little food and water. Things are simply not coming," said Hajime Sato, a government official in Iwate prefecture, one of the three hardest hit.
He said authorities were receiving just 10 percent of the food and other supplies they need. Even body bags and coffins are running so short the government may turn to foreign funeral homes for help, he said.
"We have repeatedly asked the government to help us, but the government is overwhelmed by the scale of damage and enormous demand for food and water," he said.


Explosion Rocks Third Japanese Reactor 

A third explosion in four days rocked the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in northeast Japan early Tuesday, the country's nuclear safety agency said.

The blast at Dai-ichi Unit 2 followed two hydrogen explosions at the plant — the latest on Monday — as authorities struggled to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami.
The troubles at the Dai-ichi complex began when Friday's massive quake and tsunami in Japan's northeast knocked out power, crippling cooling systems needed to keep nuclear fuel from melting down


Japan's nuclear reactor problems mount



Report: 2,000 bodies found in northeast Japan


Approximately 2,000 bodies were found Monday in Miyagi Prefecture on Japan's northeast coast, the Kyodo news agency reported.

If confirmed, the discovery would be the largest yet of victims from last week's devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Roughly 1,000 bodies were found coming ashore on Miyagi's Ojika Peninsula, while another 1,000 were seen in the town of Minamisanriku, where some 10,000 people are unaccounted for, Kyodo reported.
Officials said earlier Monday that the official death toll from the disaster stands at 1,627, with more missing.
As of 10:00 a.m. Monday (9:00 p.m. Sunday ET), at least 1,720 people were missing and 1,962 injured, according to the National Police Agency Emergency Disaster Headquarters.
The number of dead is expected to go up as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas.

Death Toll "Above 10,000"

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – A hydrogen explosion rocked the earthquake-stricken nuclear plant in Japan where authorities have been working desperately to avert a meltdown, while media said a fresh tsunami was heading for the same coastline that was hit last week.
Japan's nuclear agency confirmed there was an explosion at the No. 3 reactor of the Daiichi plant in Fukushima, and TV images showed smoke rising from the facility, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.
Officials said they could not immediately confirm whether the blast had caused a radioactive leak.
Operators had earlier halted injection of sea water into the reactor, resulting in a rise in radiation levels and pressure. The government had warned that an explosion was possible because of the buildup of hydrogen in the building housing the reactor.
Japan battled through the weekend to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for the millions without power or water in its worst crisis since World War Two, after a huge earthquake and tsunami that likely killed more than 10,000 people.
A badly wounded nation has seen whole villages and towns wiped off the map by a wall of water, leaving in its wake an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant remained worrisome and that the authorities were doing their utmost to stop damage from spreading.
"The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War Two," a grim-faced Kan had told a news conference on Sunday.
"We're under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis."
Officials confirmed on Sunday that three nuclear reactors north of Tokyo were at risk of overheating, raising fears of an uncontrolled radiation leak.
Engineers worked desperately to cool the fuel rods in the damaged reactors. If they fail, the containers that house the core could melt, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere.
The world's third-biggest economy also faced rolling power blackouts to conserve energy, and Tokyo commuters reported long delays as train companies cut back services.

New Blast at stricken Japan plant, new tsunami heads for already ravaged coast.

FUKUSHIMA, Japan (Reuters) – A hydrogen explosion rocked the earthquake-stricken nuclear plant in Japan where authorities have been working desperately to avert a meltdown, while media said a fresh tsunami was heading for the same coastline that was hit last week.
Japan's nuclear agency confirmed there was an explosion at the No. 3 reactor of the Daiichi plant in Fukushima, and TV images showed smoke rising from the facility, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo.
Officials said they could not immediately confirm whether the blast had caused a radioactive leak.
Operators had earlier halted injection of sea water into the reactor, resulting in a rise in radiation levels and pressure. The government had warned that an explosion was possible because of the buildup of hydrogen in the building housing the reactor.
Japan battled through the weekend to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and to care for the millions without power or water in its worst crisis since World War Two, after a huge earthquake and tsunami that likely killed more than 10,000 people.
A badly wounded nation has seen whole villages and towns wiped off the map by a wall of water, leaving in its wake an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant remained worrisome and that the authorities were doing their utmost to stop damage from spreading.
"The earthquake, tsunami and the nuclear incident have been the biggest crisis Japan has encountered in the 65 years since the end of World War Two," a grim-faced Kan had told a news conference on Sunday.
"We're under scrutiny on whether we, the Japanese people, can overcome this crisis."
Officials confirmed on Sunday that three nuclear reactors north of Tokyo were at risk of overheating, raising fears of an uncontrolled radiation leak.
Engineers worked desperately to cool the fuel rods in the damaged reactors. If they fail, the containers that house the core could melt, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere.
The world's third-biggest economy also faced rolling power blackouts to conserve energy, and Tokyo commuters reported long delays as train companies cut back services.

*Update* Japan is warned of Second Possible Tsunami

SOMA, Japan – Soldiers and officials in northeastern Japan are warning residents that the area could be hit by another tsunami and are ordering residents to higher ground.
Sirens around the town of Soma went off late Monday morning and public address systems ordered residents to higher ground.
Kyodo News Agency said the tsunami could be 10 feet (3 meters) high, citing Fukushima prefectural officials.
An Associated Press reporter stood about 100 yards (100 meters) from the coast.
The area was hit by a massive quake and tsunami on Friday.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

To listen to the quake, click HERE

Ever wonder what the fourth-largest recorded earthquake since 1900 sounds like? The Laboratory of Applied Bioacoustics (LAB) has posted the eerie sound online. The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC),  a network of underground observatories more than a thousand meters below sea level, made the chilling recording as the quake struck.
According to Science Daily, the sounds of Japan's 9.0-magnitude quake "have been accelerated 16 times so that they can be audible to human ears." The red and yellow colors on the spectogram represent the most intense parts of the quake. You can also listen to the first and second aftershock on the LIDO site.
In the video above, the sounds of the quake play over the images of the tsunami's destruction.

A German geophysicist also created this nifty graphic that shows the seismic activity off the coast of Japan since March 9, the day a 7.2 quake occurred off the coast of Japan. The morning of March 11 shows the massive quake and its aftershocks, and then the seismic activity slowly subsides. But all in all, the region has suffered 428 earthquakes since March 9, even though many were too far or too small to be felt on land.

Japan Races To Restart Nuclear Plant Cooling Systems

Backup power systems at Fukushima Dai-ichi plant improperly protected, officials say

TOKYO — Emergency workers racing to cool dangerously overheated uranium fuel scrambled Saturday to connect Japan's crippled reactors to a new power line, with electricians fighting tsunami-shattered equipment to restart the complex's cooling systems.
Though the power line reached the complex Friday, making the final link without setting off a spark and potentially an explosion means methodically working through badly damaged and deeply complex electrical systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Japan's northeast coast.
"Most of the motors and switchboards were submerged by the tsunami and they cannot be used," said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Backup power systems at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had been improperly protected, said Hidehiko Nishiyama of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, leaving them vulnerable to the tsunami that savaged the northeastern coast on March 11 and set off the nuclear emergency.
Meanwhile, officials said radiation above levels considered safe had been found in milk and spinach.
The failure of Fukushima's backup power systems, which were supposed to keep cooling systems going in the aftermath of the massive 9.0-magnitude earthquake, let uranium fuel overheat and were a "main cause" of the crisis, Nishiyama said.
"I cannot say whether it was a human error, but we should examine the case closely," he told reporters.
A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns and runs the plants, said that while the generators themselves were not directly exposed to the waves, some of the electrical support equipment was outside. The complex was designed to protect against tsunamis of up to 5 meters (16 feet), he said. Media reports say the tsunami was at least 6 meters (20 feet) high when it struck Fukushima.
Motoyasu Tamaki also acknowledged that the complex was old, and might not have been as well-equipped as newer facilities.
Operators of the plant, which have prompted global worries of radiation leaks, hope to have power reconnected to four of the complex's six units on Saturday, and another on Sunday. However, even once the power is reconnected, it is not clear if the cooling systems will still work.
The storage pools need a constant source of cooling water. Even when removed from reactors, uranium rods are still extremely hot and must be cooled for months, possibly longer, to prevent them from heating up again and emitting radioactivity.
Underlining authorities' desperation, fire trucks sprayed water overnight in a crude tactic to cool reactor No. 3, considered the most critical because of its use of mixed oxides, or mox, containing both uranium and highly toxic plutonium.
An initial report Saturday that a survivor of Japan's powerful earthquake and tsunami had been rescued from the rubble of a house in Kesennuma city in northern Japan eight days after the disaster turned out to be false, Kyodo news agency reported. The man in fact had been to an evacuation center already and returned to his ruined home when he was discovered by rescue workers, Kyodo reported.
Japan has raised the severity rating of the nuclear crisis to level 5 from 4 on the seven-level International Nuclear Event Scale, putting it on a par with the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, although some experts say it is more serious. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, the world's worst nuclear accident, was a 7 on that scale.
The State Department late Friday expanded the area for voluntary evacuations for family members of U.S. personnel in Japan to 13 more prefectures. A warning Wednesday named Tokyo, Nagoya and Yokahama. The warning also authorized departure for family members at Misawa Air Base in northern Japan

Woman, grandson found under rubble in Japan

16-year-old boy leads rescuers to 80-year-old grandmother

An 80-year-old woman and her teenage grandson were rescued Sunday in northeastern Japan when the youth was able to pull himself out of their flattened two-story house nine days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Jin Abe, 16, was seen calling out for help from the roof of the collapsed home in the hard-hit city of Ishinomaki, according to the Miyagi Prefectural Police. Like other homes in northeastern Japan, they had lost electricity and telephone service in the March 11 earthquake.
He led them inside to his 80-year-old grandmother, Sumi Abe. Both were conscious but weak, and had survived on the food they had in their refrigerator, said Shizuo Kawamura of the Ishinomaki police department.
The woman could not get out of the house because she has trouble walking, and the teenager, who was suffering from a low body temperature, had been unable until Sunday to pull himself from the wreckage, Kawamura told The Associated Press by telephone.
They were found by local police who realized they couldn't get the woman out of the collapsed house and had to call other rescuers, he said.
National broadcaster NHK showed video of the stunned but coherent woman being placed on a stretcher. She was able to give her name and told rescuers she had been in the house since it collapsed in the quake.
When asked if she was hurt, she said no.
The police said they were trying to learn if there had been other relatives living in the house and their whereabouts.
NHK showed them being taken by helicopter to a hospital.
Kawamura said that while the rescue was a reason for joy, the police had "too many other victims to find to take the time to celebrate."
"This morning my next door neighbor came crying to me that she still can't find her husband. All I could tell her was, 'We'll do our best, so just hold on a little longer,'" fire brigade officer Takao Sato in the disaster zone said.The rare good news punctuated the traumatic hunt for bodies and missing people.
About 257,000 households in the north still have no electricity and at least 1 million lack running water. Food, water, medicine and fuel are short in some parts, and low temperatures during Japan's winter are not helping.

Japan Recovery: 'Things Are Getting Much Better'

Food aid flows in, residents building daily routines as nation works to heal after quake and tsunami