Japan quake live blog: Radiation level in food no cause for alarm, expert says
People wait in line for a supermarket to open as limited food continues to cause problems for people in the earthquake-affected areas Sunday in Ichinoseki, Japan.
March 20th, 2011
08:20 AM ET

Japan quake live blog: Radiation level in food no cause for alarm, 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.

[10:20 p.m. Sunday ET, 11:20 a.m. Monday Tokyo] Stars and Stripes, the independent news organization covering the U. S. military, reports more than 7,900 U.S. residents at bases in northern and central Japan want to leave on military-sponsored flights.

[9:44 p.m. Sunday ET, 10:44 a.m. Monday Tokyo] National broadcaster NHK reports that Japan's Self-Defense Forces is once again spraying water on the No. 4 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

[8:52 p.m. Sunday ET, 9:52 a.m. Monday Tokyo] A few water samples taken in the area around the  Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant tested positive for iodine - although far below levels of concern under Japanese law, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency website.

[7:27 p.m. Sunday ET, 8:27 a.m. Monday Tokyo] Kyodo News reports that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has canceled a visit to one of the areas devastated by the massive earthquake and tsunami because of bad weather.

Government officials said Kan had been scheduled to go Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture via helicopter.

[4:35 p.m. Sunday ET, 5:35 a.m. Monday Tokyo] A U.S. radiation expert has said there's not much reason to worry  despite restrictions on some food produced in two provinces around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  Japan slapped on the restrictions after high levels of radioactivity turned up in spinach and milk.

Dr. James Cox, professor of radiation oncology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said the reported levels posed little or no health concerns.

[10:40 a.m. Sunday, 11:50 p.m. Sunday Tokyo] Japan has restricted sales of vegetables from the prefecture surrounding the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following a ban on the sale of raw milk from the same region, the country's Health Ministry announced late Sunday.

[7:22 a.m. Sunday ET, 8:05 p.m. Sunday Tokyo] CNN has confirmed with the Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital that two people, an 81 year old grandmother and her 16 year old grandson were rescued after being trapped inside their house for 9 days. Full story

[6:05 a.m. Sunday ET, 7:05 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Japan's National Police Agency said that 8,277 people are confirmed dead and 12,722 have been reported missing. The agency also said 2,619 people have been injured.

[3:54 a.m. Sunday ET, 4:54 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Japan's government hopes to decide Monday whether to ban consumption and shipment of agriculture products from the area near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, an official said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters Sunday that authorities were analyzing data after finding radiation-contaminated milk and spinach near the plant. "We hope to reach a conclusion by tomorrow," he said.

[3:48 a.m. Sunday ET, 4:48 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Police in northeastern Japan's Miyagi prefecture said Sunday that up to 15,000 dead bodies may be found in that area alone.

Authorities have asked the national army for help, police in the prefecture said. More than 4,800 people have been confirmed dead in the prefecture.

[3:45 a.m. Sunday ET, 4:45 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] The pressure in the containment vessel of reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has stabilized, officials said Sunday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials told reporters that pressure was higher than previous levels, but that they had no plans to immediately release gas to relieve the pressure.

"We will continue to monitor the situation while making the necessary preparations," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.

Earlier Sunday, Japan's nuclear agency said officials were planning an operation to reduce pressure in the vessel by releasing gas containing radioactive material.

The No. 3 reactor is one of six at the nuclear plant, where workers have been struggling to stave off a full meltdown since a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and ensuing tsunami knocked out cooling systems.

In earlier operations, they have let out radioactive steam in order to alleviate growing pressure inside affected reactors.

[3:20 a.m. Sunday ET, 4:20 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] As of 3 p.m. Sunday (2 a.m. ET), Japan's National Police Agency said that 8,199 people are confirmed dead and 12,722 have been reported missing. The agency said 2,613 people have been injured.

[12:58 a.m. Sunday ET, 1:58 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Japan's National Police Agency said Sunday that 8,133 people are confirmed dead and 12,272 have been reported missing following the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that struck March 11. The agency said 2,612 people have been injured.

[12:15 a.m. Sunday ET, 1:15 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] The pressure in the containment vessel of reactor No. 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is increasing, Japan's nuclear safety agency said Sunday. The agency said officials are planning an operation to reduce pressure in the vessel - the steel and concrete shell that insulates radioactive material inside.

Late Saturday (early Sunday in Tokyo), the death toll was confirmed at 7,700 people, according to Japan's National Police Agency. An additional 11,651 people were missing and 2,612 were injured, the agency said.

The March 11 tremors shifted the Oshika Peninsula near the epicenter by just over 17 feet and dropped it by just over 4 feet, the Geospatial Information Authority in Tsukuba, Japan, reported Saturday. Those two land mass movements are records for Japan, according to government figures.

The global positioning system data from the Tsukuba University-based authority revealed the peninsula on the Pacific coast moved in an east-southeasterly direction toward the epicenter.

The quake also moved land masses in many areas ranging from the northeastern region of Tohoku to the Kanto region including Tokyo, the authority said.

Search and rescue efforts have been hampered by snowfall in the hardest-hit areas, said spokesman Patrick Fuller of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Construction of temporary housing for displaced people began this weekend with 200 units destined for the devastated coastal city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, The Japan Times reported. The prefabricated houses can accommodate two to three people and will be built on the grounds of a junior high school.

soundoff (85 Responses)
  1. Rafael

    Yesterday it was an x-Ray, today it was a ct-scan in combination with radiation tainted food...Come on TEPCO! Who do you you think we are? At this rate we will be exposed to 100times the normal rate of radiation we get in a year! IT ALL ADDS UP!

    March 20, 2011 at 1:12 am | Report abuse |
    • T. Lee

      And all that has "what" to do with either the article or the comment to which you entered your response?

      March 20, 2011 at 12:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert Swarts

      And where are you that you will be negatively impacted?

      You get 0.0001 mSv from eating a banana.
      You get 3 mSv from a mammogram
      You get between 0.8 and 18 mSv from a focused CT scan
      You get between 10 to 20 mSv from an X-ray
      You get between 10 to 15 mSv for a full body CT scan

      People don't begin feeling acute symptoms until 250mSv and those symptoms are minor.
      The lowest dose for any statistical increase in cancer is 50 mSv and that requires constant exposure, noting that the chances of developing thyroid cancer (one of the least deadliest cancers) is higher than the chances of leukemia.

      The average background exposure is 3mSv. To suggest 100 times the exposure in any given year across the globe... or from point A to point B where you might be (perhaps thousands upon thousands of miles away) assumes that the situation at the Fukushima power station is a cataclysmic event tantamount to a significant disruption in the electromagnetic field of the earth, allowing more cosmic radiation in and killing off all life on earth.

      Short of it: Calm down.

      March 20, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jedikeri

    It's time that TEPCO stop covering their asses, and find a solution to stop those reactors permanantly. I'm sorry if the CNN moderators find that too blunt, but I'm so sick and tired of watching them avoiding telling the truth. Fukushima does not need to become another Chernoblyl or Mayak. There are already too many people suffering from cronic radiation as it is. This world does not need more.

    March 20, 2011 at 1:23 am | Report abuse |
  3. Dale H Decker


    March 20, 2011 at 1:42 am | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    Ha Ha Ha, Dale H. Decker was censored. What a cut. Reject!

    March 20, 2011 at 2:15 am | Report abuse |
    • Patti Panda

      Dexter's video is fascinationg Cesar: EH?

      March 20, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
  5. Elizabeth

    I'm wondering with all the infra-red scanning technology if they have a temperature of the cores of these reactors. Metals melt at a certain temperature. Steam that is superheated also acts differently than other steam: it acts as acid and base, very caustic. Containments are made of materials that can withstand high heat, pressure, and caustic material, but they aren't perfect. The fuel is very heavy (why the nucleus is radioactive). Melted heavy metal travels downward. Plutonium is very toxic, not counting its radioactivity. Even if the materials themselves don't explode, there are several things that could be very dangerous, for example, there is molten magma below the fault line. There needs to be a very real and thorough assessment of these dangers now.

    March 20, 2011 at 2:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Tomas

      You almost know what your talking about, at least you try t be informed. Unfortunately, most of your statements are in error.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nuclear Engineer

      The biggest concern of any melt down is not the fuel melting through the containment vessel. Its the fact that the fission products and actinides become exposed and are a pain to deal with. The fuel is located in the fuel rod and is protected by the fuel cladding, but once this melts the contamination process begins and greatly increases the chance of much larger releases into the air if the containment is breeched. The fuel will not burn through the earth.

      March 20, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Patti Panda

    Elizabeth, thank you for the info

    March 20, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  7. Cesar

    Pattie, thank you for the info.

    March 20, 2011 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters Sunday that authorities were analyzing data after finding radiation-contaminated milk and spinach near the plant. "We hope to reach a conclusion by tomorrow," he said.

    March 20, 2011 at 4:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Cesar

    Thank you Scott, for that fine report. And in other news, the Great Recession is over. More after these commercials.

    March 20, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |

    i'm goona go over there with my camaro and a tow strap or three... i'll tie them together and hook one end to my tow hitch and the other to the reactor.. then yank it apart..

    March 20, 2011 at 9:11 am | Report abuse |
    • koichiro

      That's about the best idea I've heard yet! Thanks for a good laugh. Let's get the cowboys over here to do the job right!!

      March 20, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |

      I GUARENTEE it will work.. i have a posi rear end and 3:73 gears..

      March 20, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tomas

      Yes, but it's a Chevy product, you are more likely to leave that fancy rear end behind as you yank it.

      March 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnson23

      I don't care too much for mid price sports cars but according to motortrend a 5.0 with the same gear ratios is still faster so for the money you paid you were better off going with ford. Sorry for your loss.

      March 20, 2011 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Tellmenolies

    They are really nervous about reactor 3 because it's the one with plutonium in the fuel rods,if it blows there will be more severe problems,it is why they are trying so hard not to vent it unless they have to...personally I think it's worse than they are saying...notice how the news articles aren't mentioning how serious it would be if they release the Mox radiation..

    March 20, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      Reactor #3 blew up days ago! If you look at the photos you can see that the spent fuel rod pool is completely exposed... if not blown up completely. The photos look like there is a big pile of spent fuel rods covering the area of the blown up reactor number 3! The news is not reporting this!

      March 20, 2011 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. FreshxWater

    Why weren't diesel generators/batteries helicoptered in on Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4...? CH 47 load is 19,500 lbs, easily lifting generators.

    Tokyo is only 250Km. A ship carrying a generator could have made it to Fukushima in 1/2 day.

    The 5 man crew in my small town electric company strings 1 mile of line in a day. Why wasn't this task started on Day 1?

    Of the pictures released of Fukushima plant, I see NO EVIDENCE of the Tsunami reaching the plant. No mud/debris/water lines. No junk scattered on top of things around the plant. (Only the explosion's debris.

    For Americans watching crime shows their entire lives, it sure seems Americans have NOT learned the most basic detective skills. I give no EXCUSE for the Corporate Reporters for not asking these questions!

    March 20, 2011 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob64

      Because the tsunami flooded the electrical systems. Just like what happens when you drop your laptop in salt-water, it will quickly fail to work due to corrosion and short-circuiting by the conductive liquid...

      March 20, 2011 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • CD

      Could it be that they were busy trying to help the thousands of people affected by this catastrophe? Sorry that they didn't react as you would have liked, but you cannot judge if you, yourself are not in that situation! It's always easy to think what you would have done when it didn't happen to you.

      March 20, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • KasperDee

      Bravo!! Real questions are meet with ridicule these days.
      Im sure the G.E. boys were in a think tank with those same ideas that have been expressed by alot of us.
      Its obvious to me most of their efforts were put towards P.R. in keeping the worry to a minimum and also to maintain nuclear as a primary "safe" form of energy.
      All the CSI and detective shows mixed with the war on terror are only promoting the idea that everyone should task themselves with knowing what the next person is doing. We are a nation of people who think they know whats best for the next......disgusting!

      March 20, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Seer

      If you take a closer look at the plant you can see all the seaward portions of the facility have damage that shows force was applied from the sea. There isn't a lot of debris because the plant is next to the ocean, so there wasn't a good source of debris "upstream" when the wave arrived. The damage was done not by pounding debris, but simply pounding water. As sources have said, the pumps and electrical panels for the cooling systems are in a vault under the turbine buildings (the large buildings just seaward of the reactors) and those vaults were filled with seawater. Electrical equipment and water don't mix, but seawater in particular renders unprotected electrical equipment useless.

      March 21, 2011 at 4:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. banasy

    My *guess* is that even though the aerial pictures didn't show any damage to the plant itself, the roads leading up to the plant may have been damaged/washed away/cleared of debris before any help could arrive.

    Also the people of thos country are known to be extremely self-sufficient and private; perhaps they wanted to see and assess the scope of the damage before they asked for help from other countries. After all, it happened so fast, the authorities probably had no clue of the magnitude of devastation that occurred. Again, only *my* guess.

    March 20, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |

    you can also use a locomotive for power.. a locomotive uses 220 3 phase ac power.. all you have to do is run the power leads to the utility pole and crannk it up.. it's a very simple fix..

    sometimes when there is storm damage in the midwest they do that for small towns..

    March 20, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |

    i just got off the phone with LongDuckDong... and he told me the real story..

    the real story is.. those diesel generaters had back up batteries in them.. and they are basically a big over sized 9volt battery.. he said that those batteries had been 'beeping' indicating that they needed changed out.. but they just unpluged them cause they used the last battery up 3 months ago..

    he said that the powerplant was saving up for a giant 9 volt rechargable battery but they were 5 times the normal cost..

    March 20, 2011 at 1:06 pm | Report abuse |
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