Japan live blog: Radiation burns may be like 'sunburn,' expert says
A worker puts a destroyed car into a truck during clean-up operations in Sendai, Japan, on Friday.
March 25th, 2011
11:42 PM ET

Japan live blog: Radiation burns may be like 'sunburn,' expert says

A magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northern Japan on March 11, triggering tsunamis that caused widespread devastation and crippled a nuclear power plant. Are you in an affected area? Send an iReport. Read the full report on the quake's aftermath and check out our interactive explainer on Japan's damaged nuclear reactors.

[11:41 p.m. ET Friday, 12:41 p.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Tests showed that levels of radioactive iodine in seawater just offshore of the embattled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are more than 1,250 times higher than normal, Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency said Saturday.

Similarly high levels of radiation had been detected in the same locales in recent days, though the latest readings indicate a notable increase. These high levels suggest there may have been some sort of leakage directly into the ocean unlikely to be because of atmosphere emissions or rain alone, said an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the nuclear plant.

But an official with Japan's nuclear safety agency told reporters Saturday that - while drinking such water would be dangerous, given the radiation's potential to cause cancer - the effect on aquatic life in the Pacific Ocean may be relatively minimal. That's because the radiation tends to dilute the further one moves away from the nuclear plant. Data posted on Japan's education and science ministry's website showed relatively small amounts of radioactive particles several kilometers offshore.

[10:07 p.m. ET Friday, 11:07 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power Co. is preparing to inject fresh water into the No. 2 reactor core at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to enhance cooling efficiency after highly radioactive water was found leaking near all four troubled reactor units at the plant, Kyodo News reports. The utility will try to remove pools of water containing highly concentrated radioactive substances that may have seeped from either the reactor cores or spent fuel pools, while also trying to restore power at the No. 2 reactor.

[7:38 p.m. ET Friday, 8:38 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] The Japan National Police Agency reports 10,102 people are confirmed dead as of Friday. The agency said it has received reports of 17,053 people missing.

[5:54 p.m. ET Friday, 6:54 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] You can see the survivors making the choice as they walk through the debris-strewn main street of Otsuchi in Japan stay or go?

Some amble along as if in a daze, trying to comprehend the present and match it with an uncertain future. Others look like tourists, coolly trying to place a cousin's house or a grandmother's garden.

But the dilemma is the same for them all: do you stay and rebuild in a devastated small town, struggling economically even before the tsunami, or pull up stakes and start anew in a big city?

[12:37 p.m. ET Friday, 1:37 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] The Japanese government is considering instituting daylight-saving time or electricity price increases as options to conserve power during summer months when demand may outstrip supply, the Japan Times reported early Saturday. The measures are being considered to make up for the loss of two nuclear power plants damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

[11:34 a.m. ET Friday, 12:34 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Three men working near the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant Thursday stepped into water that had 10,000 times the amount of radiation typical for a nuclear plant, a Japanese government official said Friday, but nuclear experts said the burns suffered by the workers may not amount to much more than a sunburn.

Beta rays given off by radioactive substances don't penetrate deeply into materials, including flesh, said Nolan Hertel, a professor nuclear engineering at Georgia Tech. Consequently, the danger is relatively limited, he said. "Basically, a beta burn would be akin to a bad sunburn," he said.

[11:28 a.m. ET Friday, 12:28 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] Three of every five survivors of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami say they are unable or unwilling to return to their homes, according to a survey by broadcaster NHK, which polled 488 people staying in shelters in the hardest-hit prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.

[11:04 a.m. ET Friday, 12:04 a.m. Saturday in Tokyo] As Japanese suppliers scramble to come back on line after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Ford Motor Co. is asking its dealers to order trucks and SUVs in any color but black, CNNMoney reports.

Specifically, Ford is asking dealers not to order any new full-size pick-ups or SUVs in so-called Tuxedo Black because of a problem getting a paint ingredient from a supplier in Japan. The automaker is also scaling back, but not stopping, its use of Tuxedo Black on mid-sized SUVs and the large Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans.

Red's a problem, too. Ford is scaling back three shades of red on SuperDuty and Ranger trucks, Focus compact cars, Econoline vans and Lincoln Navigator SUVs.

"To be clear, though, all these vehicles and colors are available now," Ford spokesman Todd Nissen said in an email. "We have adequate inventories on dealer lots to meet consumer demand."

[10:26 a.m. ET Friday, 11:26 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] The death toll from the March 11 quake and tsunami was at 10,102 as of 11 p.m. Friday, according to Japan National Police Agency figures cited by Kyodo News. The number of missing was put at 17,053. More than 240,000 people were in 1,900 evacuation shelters, Kyodo reported.

[10:12 a.m. ET Friday, 11:12 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Japan's national soccer team may not be able to participate in a prestigious tournament in South America during the summer because the earthquake and tsunami postponed domestic league games until July, Kyodo News reports. The Japanese national squad was scheduled to participate in the Copa America in Argentina in July. But five rounds of domestic league games have been rescheduled for that time, Japan Football Association technical director Hiromi Hara told Kyodo, and some clubs do not want to release their players for the international tournament.

[9:37 a.m. ET Friday, 10:37 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Japanese automakers say they've lost production of more than 300,000 vehicles since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, broadcaster NHK reports.

[9:02 a.m. ET Friday, 10:02 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Smokers in Japan may have trouble finding their favorite brands in the coming weeks after Japan Tobacco Inc., the nation's leading cigarette supplier, said Friday it will be suspending shipments of its products between March 30 and April 10. During that time, the company said in a statement, it will concentrate on producing enough inventory to satisfy demand for its 25 key products using factories in western Japan. The company says several of its factories and distribution facilities were damaged in the March 11 quake off the east coast of the main island of Honshu.

The company says about 37 percent of Japanese men smoke and 12 percent of women, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek report from August.

[8:12 a.m. ET Friday, 9:12 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Friday that the situation at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant "still does not warrant optimism," according to a Kyodo News report.

[8:05 a.m. ET Friday, 9:05 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 struck off the coast of the main Japanese island of Honshu Friday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter was 67 miles (108 kilometers) east-northeast of Sendai at a depth of about 24 miles, according to a preliminary USGS report.

[7:30 a.m. ET Friday, 8:30 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] China and South Korea on Friday temporarily banned food imports from areas of Japan near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

China is stopping imports of dairy, fruit, vegetables and aquatic animals from five prefectures, according to a report from the Xinhua news agency.

South Korea is not allowing imports of spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and milk from four prefectures, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Neither country said how long the bans would remain in effect, according to the reports.

[7:06 a.m. ET Friday, 8:06 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Two Japanese citizens - one from Nagano and the other from Saitama, both 200 kilometers or further from Fukushima - traveling to China were taken to a hospital after showing exceedingly high levels of radiation, China's  state-run Xinhua news agency reported. A spokesman for the Japanese Embassy in China said Friday that the two are "fine" having left the hospital and joined their tour group.

[6:53 a.m. ET Friday, 7:53 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] A 40-story, 700-room Tokyo hotel scheduled for closure and demolition will remain open through June to house evacuees from Fukushima prefecture, the Japan Times reported Friday.

The iconic 55-year-old Grand Prince Akasaka Hotel was a trendy place for dates in the 1980s, but business had fallen off with increased competition from international hotel chains in the area, reports said.

Now it will house as many as 1,600 evacuees from the earthquake, tsumani and radiation leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

How to secure a room and possible costs have yet to be determined, but there has been a flood of requests for space, Kyodo News reports.

[5:33 a.m. ET Friday, 6:33 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric Power said Friday that warm summer weather and demands for air conditioning will make rolling blackouts necessary in July, Kyodo News reports. Peak demand in July will be about 55 million kilowatts but the utility expects to have a capacity of only 46.5 million kilowatts, according to the report. The company said rolling blackouts it instituted on March 14 are expected to continue through April. It expects to restore some capacity in the coming months, but not enough to meet demand during the heat of July, according to the report.

[4:42 a.m. ET Friday, 5:42 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Tap water tested at four sites in Japan's Ibaraki prefecture all showed radiation levels above what is considered safe for babies to drink, according to government data released Friday.

The pertinent facilities provide water for residents in the cities of Tokaimura and Hitachi. The results, from samples taken on Thursday, showed between a low of 119 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water to a high of 230 becquerels of the same radioactive substance.

Any level above 100 becquerels is not considered safe for infants 1-year old and younger to drink, according to the Japanese government. Still, all are below the 300-becquerel limit for all adults.

[4:10 a.m. ET Friday, 5:10 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] The levels of radioactive iodine in Tokyo's tap water dropped again Friday, with similarly positive results being seen in tests of water treatment facilities in Chiba prefecture.

Samples of Tokyo's tap water taken at 6 a.m. Friday showed 51 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water, the city waterworks bureau reported on its website. Any level above 100 becquerels is not considered safe for infants 1-year old and younger to drink.

On Tuesday night, samples had 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine - prompting a government decision, later reversed, to urge parents not to give tap water to babies.

There was also positive news on this front Friday in the Chiba prefecture, where all five water treatment facilities had levels of radioactive iodine less than 100 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of tap water.

The previous day, the Chiba Nogiko water treatment plant had a measure of 220 becquerels , while the Kuriyama facility had a reading of 180 becquerels, according to a statement from Chiba's waterworks bureau. These two plants provide water for the city of Matsudo, about 20 miles northeast of Tokyo.

[3:07 a.m. ET Friday, 4:07 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] Water contamination in unit No. 3 basement, which exposed three  men working at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear  power plant to 10,000 times the amount of  radiation typical for that locale, is likely from the reactor core, an official with the Japan nuclear and industrial  safety agency said Friday.

He said there's a possibility of "some sort of leakage" - including potentially from a crack in the unit's containment vessel.

The incident raised questions about radiation control measures at the plant as 536 people - including government authorities and firefighters continued working there Friday, according to an official with the plant's owner, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

[2:20 a.m. ET Friday, 3:20 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] A U.S. military ship is heading toward the stricken Fukushima Daiichi power plant with fresh water to help cool down the facility's nuclear fuel, the Japanese defense minister said Friday.

The ship is a backup for Japanese systems addressing the same problem, said Toshimi Kitazawa, the defense minister.

[1:15 a.m. ET Friday, 2:15 p.m. Friday in Tokyo] A Japanese  official described the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis as a  "difficult" situation, and said the government will provide transportation to  those seeking to evacuate within 30 kilometers.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said authorities will provide transportation in response to growing demand among those living between 20 and 30 kilometers hoping to get farther away from the stricken plant.

[10:49 p.m. ET Thursday, 11:49 a.m. Friday in Tokyo] The death toll from this month's earthquake and subsequent tsunami has now topped 10,000 people, Japan's National Police Agency said.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan • World
soundoff (128 Responses)
  1. Amygadalus communis

    Let's wait to worry about the food. Remember, GOD has made us remarkable. We adapt, change and grow to allow for survival. Our food will still sustain us. Testing is already in place. The WHO can help with keeping everybody honest.

    March 26, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Van Winkle

    I like dinasours.

    March 26, 2011 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  3. L64

    Cool, van. I like elephants.

    March 26, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Karen

    I have asked this question over and over and still have not gotten an answer. Where is any radioactive waste now that was in the process of being transported to a different site when the tsunamai struck. What is the environmental impact of any cargo being transported when the waters rushed back into the sea taking trucks, trains cars into the sea with it? People are only focusing on one issue when there are issues that are at least as great not being discussed

    March 27, 2011 at 12:07 am | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Yuma

    Karen I want to sniff your scalp.

    March 27, 2011 at 1:26 am | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Amygadalus communis

    5/17/02 the cards picked @ 1:00 am
    The Prophecy of Nuclear Disaster:

    A III The Empress >up Balance
    B IV Wands >down Act now:act
    C V Wands >up with purpose
    D IV Swords >down

    think about it.

    But the children of Isreal committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zarah, of the tribe of Judah, took the accursed things; so the anger of the Lord burned against the children of Israel.
    Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is beside Beth Aven, on the east side of Bethel, and spoke to them, saying, "Go up and spy out the coutry." So the men went up and spied Ai>
    And they returned to Joshua and said to him, "Do not let all the people up, but let about two three thousan men go up and attack Ai. Do not weary all the People there, for the people of Ai are few."

    March 27, 2011 at 2:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Amygadalus communis

    re: 3:00 am blog, Joshua 7:1-3

    March 27, 2011 at 3:01 am | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Amygadalus communis

    Today:
    For the Faithful of the World:I will Live for You!

    March 27, 2011 at 3:08 am | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Lightrider

    Research Free Energy a/k/a Zerio Point Energy a/k/a Scalar Energy discovered by Nikola Tesla. This FREE energy WOULD have been available for the masses on a WORLDWIDE basis. Free because this energy does not pollute. And apparently they're using it for the D.U.M.B.'s (google that!) But JP Morgan said, in so many words, to Tesla when Tesla approached him for funding, "If it doesn't have a meter on it so I can't make money then I won't fund it's development." Project was dumped. But Tesla's plans survived. We mine coal, puncture the earth for oil, and radiate our brothers and sisters because of GREED. With the predicted earth changes, if they happen, and, heh, they ARE ALREADY STARTING, how many more nuclear plants will fail. If any survive, I hope they breed a more responsible race of humans. At least that's what Mother Earth would say. We are INSANE to have nuclear power. The risks outweigh the chances everytime. FREE ENERGY NOW!

    March 27, 2011 at 6:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Herbert

    Jazz7: I didn't know flies bit people. Did it hurt?

    March 28, 2011 at 8:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Jibba Tokez

    "That's because the radiation tends to dilute the further one moves away from the nuclear plant."

    Im not a nuclear physicist but this statement just doesn't make sense to me. Why would radiation dilute just because it moves away from a nuclear plant? That sounds like magic to me. Anyone have a rational answer for this statement?

    April 14, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Srigrace

    The ultimate service provided by these companies to the hotels and the online consumer is that they provide a single database from which all reservation sources draw immediate room availability and rates. It is very important that hotels integrate with all the supply channels so that their guests are able to make accurate online bookings.

    June 30, 2011 at 11:59 am | Report abuse | Reply
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