. Earth Science News .

Japan to report progress on nuclear crisis
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) July 15, 2011

Japan thanks top US officer for disaster aid
Tokyo (AFP) July 15, 2011 - Japan on Friday thanked the highest ranking US military officer for the help provided under Operation Tomodachi (Friend), a large-scale aid effort after the March 11 quake and tsunami disaster.

Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto thanked Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was visiting Tokyo and was expected to travel to tsunami-hit areas in the country's northeast on Saturday.

Mullen said the United States, Japan's top security ally, is "proud of our relationship and obviously, from my perspective, it was very easy to give that kind of support", the Kyodo News agency reported.

Nearly 21,000 people died or remain missing after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake, which set off a massive tsunami that ravaged the coastline and sparked an ongoing nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The United States, which has bases across Japan since World War II, mobilised more than 20,000 personnel and some 160 aircraft in disaster relief and recovery operations after Japan's worst peace-time catastrophe.

US forces flew emergency aid to survivors, used heavy equipment to clear the flooded and debris-strewn Sendai airport, and took part in major coastal searches for survivors and remains of victims.

The aid effort helped mend relations that were strained in recent years by a dispute over the relocation of a US airbase on Japan's Okinawa island.

Japan is expected to announce early next week that it is broadly on track in its "roadmap" to stabilise the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, media reports said Friday.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has met several major goals for mid-July, including building a water decontamination and reactor cooling system and taking steps to avoid further explosions.

TEPCO said Friday it had begun injecting nitrogen into reactor three, which contains a volatile uranium-plutonium mix -- a step aimed at preventing more blasts like those that tore through the plant after the March 11 quake.

"We now have nitrogen injected into reactors one, two and three," a TEPCO spokeswoman told AFP, reporting on progress since the powerful seabed quake and tsunami crippled the coastal atomic power plant.

"We will offer a fresh roadmap on (Tuesday) July 19," she said, referring to the monthly review and revision of the plan to stabilise the facility which the government and the utility first drafted in April.

The Yomiuri Daily reported that the government plans next Tuesday to announce that they have nearly finished the first phase of defusing the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

The goal for phase two is to bring all reactors to stable "cold shutdown" by January at the latest, although decommissioning the six-reactor plant and cleaning up the site is expected to take many years.

However, despite the progress so far, TEPCO has not yet met other major goals for phase one -- including repairing the leaking reactor containment vessels, and removing all radioactive debris from the explosions.

Nonetheless, the government is also looking at resettling people in evacuated areas outside the plant's 20-kilometre (12-mile) no-go zone, pointing at the fact that the spread of radiation there has eased.

The so-called 'emergency evacuation preparation zone' -- in areas between 20km and 30km from the plant, where residents have been told to be ready to leave quickly -- may be scrapped by the end of July, the Yomiuri said.

The government has ordered some 80,000 people inside the 20km zone to evacuate, along with some communities to the northwest, which received high radioactive fallout due to wind and geographical patterns.

But people from other townships between 20km and 30km of the plant may be told they can return home, pending further safety tests of both the plant and the air and soil in the rural areas.

"Stabilisation of the cooling system will be a precondition for that," Goshi Hosono, the minister in charge disaster recovery, told reporters, according to the Jiji Press news agency.

Japan has also ordered "stress tests" on all of its 54 reactors, only 19 of which are now operational -- an order that sparked confusion and angered some host communities who had been assured reactors were safe.

The industry watchdog, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), on Friday outlined criteria for the tests in a submission to a second body, the Nuclear Safety Commission, with which it will jointly run the tests.

NISA said the plants will be tested for their resilience to four threats -- earthquakes, tsunamis, power blackouts, and the loss of cooling systems.

The tests will start with the 19 currently idled plants. In the second phase, power companies will be required to hand their reports on the operational reactors to the government by the end of the year.

earlier related report
More radioactive beef shipped in Japan
Tokyo (AFP) July 15, 2011 - Japan was Friday considering a ban on shipments of all cattle from Fukushima prefecture, site of its tsunami-hit nuclear plant, as fears deepened about radioactive beef, Kyodo News reported.

The move follows news that beef from another 42 cattle has been shipped to Tokyo and other areas over recent months after the animals were fed straw containing radioactive caesium more than 70 times the legal limit.

The revelation pointed at gaps in food supply monitoring since the March 11 quake and tsunami disaster sparked the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl 25 years ago, contaminating the air, soil and sea.

Fukushima prefecture, which hosts the stricken atomic power plant, reported that a farm in Asakawa, about 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the plant, had shipped the beef to Tokyo and elsewhere between April 8 and July 6.

The straw the cattle were fed had been left in an open field and contained up to 97,000 becquerels of caesium per kilogram -- more than 70 times the government-designated limit, the prefecture said in a statement.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government said that one beef sample tested at 650 becquerels per kg, exceeding the maximum limit of 500 becquerels per kg.

It was the third shipment of radioactive beef reported since last weekend, and officials believe much of it has already been consumed.

A cattle farm in Minamisoma, just outside the 20 kilometre no-go zone around the nuclear plant, was found to have shipped meat from cows fed with straw containing 75,000 becquerels of caesium per kg.

The government has sought to assure the public that there is no immediate health threat from eating standard servings of the beef.

More than four months into the nuclear crisis, Japan has not set up a centralised system to check food for radiation, relying instead on testing carried out by prefectures and municipalities.

Related Links
Bringing Order To A World Of Disasters
A world of storm and tempest
When the Earth Quakes

Get Our Free Newsletters Via Email
Buy Advertising Editorial Enquiries

Japan PM visits Fukushima
Tokyo (AFP) July 16, 2011 - Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Saturday visited the prefecture at the centre of a nuclear crisis sparked by the March quake and tsunami, amid reports his government may reduce the evacuation zone.

Kan, in his fifth visit to Fukushima prefecture since the disaster, held talks with governors from 12 villages and towns from the region, Jiji Press news agency said.

"I will take measures by listening carefully to your opinions," Kan was quoted as saying at the start of the meeting at a hotel in Koriyama, some 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Earlier Kan, wearing blue work clothes, visited a sports training facility that is now used as a base for workers battling the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

"We are making gradual progress toward settling the accident thanks to you," he reportedly told dozens of assembled emergency workers.

Kan's visit came as Japan is expected to announce early next week that it is broadly on track in its "roadmap" to stabilise the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.

Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has met several major goals for mid-July, including building a water decontamination and reactor cooling system and taking steps to avoid further explosions.

The government is now looking at resettling people in evacuated areas outside the plant's 20-kilometre (12-mile) no-go zone, although it has declined to give a specific timeframe.

The mass-circulation Asahi Shimbun on Saturday said the situation has improved enough for the government to consider narrowing an emergency evacuation zone, imposed between 20 and 30 kilometres from the plant, in August.

Residents within the zone have been on alert to either stay indoors or evacuate rapidly in case of an emergency.

Children and those who need nursing care have already been advised to leave the zone and many others have also evacuated.

There is no review in sight for the 20-kilometre no-go zone.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami left some 21,000 people dead or missing, devastating the northeastern coast and crippling the Fukushima plant.

The government estimates it will need at least 10 trillion yen ($126 billion) over the next five years for reconstruction, excluding compensation to people hit by the nuclear disaster, the Asahi reported Saturday.

. Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Radioactive ash found in waste plants near Tokyo
Tokyo (AFP) July 12, 2011
Japanese waste incineration plants near Tokyo have found high levels of radiation in ash, and officials said Tuesday it may be from garden waste contaminated by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The radioactive caesium was detected in plants in Kashiwa city in Chiba prefecture, northeast of Tokyo and about 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the plant that has leaked radiation since the March 11 q ... read more

Japan to report progress on nuclear crisis

Cyprus president apologises for deadly blast

Cyprus leader vows 'thorough' probe of killer blast

Japan quake makes 2011 costliest year: Munich Re

U.S. watches helium stockpile dwindle

Kakao is sweet for S. Korean smartphone users

S. Korean plans class action against Apple

25 Tesla, world-record 'split magnet' makes its debut

Climate change reducing ocean's carbon dioxide uptake

Increased protection urgently needed for tunas

Canada reservations need better water systems: study

Natural iron fertilisation influences deep-sea ecosystems off the Crozet Islands

Lie of the land beneath glaciers influences impact on sea levels

Antarctic suvey finds undersea volcanoes

Antarctic krill help to fertilize Southern Ocean with iron

Warming ocean layers will undermine polar ice sheets

Texas cattle ranchers feel burn of record drought

More radioactive beef found in Japan

World Population Day: Agriculture Offers Huge Opportunities for a Planet of 7 Billion

New Genetic Map of Potato May Lead to Improved Crops

Spectacular eruption at Indonesian volcano

Olympia hypothesis: Tsunamis buried the cult site on the Peloponnese

4,800 evacuated in Indonesia volcano eruption

Indonesian volcano erupts, spewing rock and lava

At least 25 killed during Nigerian military raid: Amnesty

Burkina army sacks 566 soldiers over mutiny

WFP considers returning to rebel-held Somali regions

Nigerian Islamists say no ceasefire until troops withdrawn

Dhaka and Delhi launch census in enclaves

Cracking the Code of the Mind

Early embryos can correct genetic abnormalities during development

Surgeons implant first synthetic organ

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily Express :: SpaceWar Express :: TerraDaily Express :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2011 - Space Media Network. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement