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. Sunar From Indonesia Phone: 628993362379 Web: http://zonacyber.xtgem.com

    why should such a nuclear plant buid in tsunami likely hit area?, where the experts had been?

    March 25, 2011 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. Goodgyrl7

    Based on some of the above posts:

    I don't think that the government or officials have had the time to really discuss what will occur with fuel rods etc in the future. The immediate threat and situation far outweighs that. They are dealing with the current issue. Once that is under control, IF it becomes under control, then I am sure with the help all all nations, plans and actions will be discussed. Its like triage in a hospital. The serious issues must be attended to first. Then they can move on to other issues.

    As for where nuclear plants are built...yea not a great place. But that being said, everything we do as humans is an experiment really. Trail and error. Bad choices = learning. It isnt the first screw up our race has made, nor will it be the last.

    March 25, 2011 at 8:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Bryttni

      That's the thing, there is a lot of experimenting and not enough learning from our mistakes.

      March 25, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy

    "Doesn't warrant optimism". Oh, boy...this is truly terrifying!

    March 25, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • JR

      Especially from these individuals, who dispense information in miniscule droplets – but even CNN is guilty of this; most of the information I've tracked in the last week or so has been from Reuters, since CNN started dropping it off their page...not "front-page" anymore. Scary complacency.

      March 25, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. Elizabeth

    Their map of west coast and Colorado is not right: plume maps of radiation show an almost equal amount over almost the whole U.S.A. But instead of worrying, have your young children eat more potassium (bananas, potatoes, etc.) to counteract cessium, and more sources of iodine (you can shake ground kelp over food instead of salt). Also, a multi-vitamin that has lots of nutrients, which will keep the kids from absorbing the bad stuff. Don't think that a trace amount, or "just like a CT scan," means anything: radiation is not the same thing as radioactive particles, because an absorbed particle will keep on giving, and will give the problem to cells years after they are affected. Even a CT scan gives cancer to about 1 out of 250 people. A small amount of preventive worry: do you want that for your child? Don't believe that you have no worries after the half-life of 8 days; that's iodine, but cessium is 30 years; i.e., hasn't even happened yet for Chernobyl.

    March 25, 2011 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • bimmer

      Just to let you know banana's and sweet potatos and potatos in general are natural sources of radiation, or "background" radiation as they call it. My husband is a nuclear inspector and in their training they are told specifically to avoid both as they are already exposed. A normal person is not threatened by eating them,( so dont go boycotting them) but before you tell anyone who is at risk of a radiation dose to feed their children bananas and potatoes do some reasearch!!

      March 25, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Dr

      When u have dental xrays, the dental tech makes u wear a very heavy LEAD vest.
      When u get xrayed at the hospital, the xray tech stands behind a very thick LEAD door.
      Radiation is the worst type of poison.
      Please read material on what occurred in Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped.
      And God bless us all.

      March 25, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  5. joshua wertheim

    Question: how are spent fuel rods removed from a nuke plant? Can't they just use that process to move them from this plant? How are active fuel rods placed into the containment vessel? Can't they reverse that process got get these rods out and move them to a safer facility?

    March 25, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Hawg

      I think they have to be left in contaminant pool until they quit generating heat to a point that they can be placed in a contaminant casket without needing to be constantly cooled down. Until then they need to be in pool to keep them cool.

      March 25, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
    • bimmer

      good Questions.. Number one the rods are much too hot, unstable and radiant for anyone or anything to get near right now, their only option is to keep cooling them. they are still quite a ways away from dong anything but flooding them to keep them cool.
      When they were placed into the core they weren't active yet, once in the core they are exposed to the nuclear process. as for reversing the process, once something is producing radiation you cant just reverse it and make the radiation go away, it would be the biggest breakthrough in energy production ever if they could!
      This reactor is just unfortunately a bad design for it's location. there are certainly other designs of Nuclear reactors that would have been much more stable in this area. it would have been as simple as containing their back up generators to avoid flood damage. just overall poor design

      March 25, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kay

    If the situation is that hopeless, it's time to evacuate. There's nothing else left to do.

    March 25, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
  7. irock

    The partys over bury it and move on

    March 25, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
  8. S - 2100 - S

    I told u stupid dunder heads to run as far away as possible but NO.... OO..... U smart peolpe think u know it ALL..... Radiation + breach = people r going to DIE ... From exposure.... The super elite give u all nuke-energy when for themselves they use whats called FREE ENERGY for themselves in their under ground installations all over the world .... U idiots are still stuck in the world is flat belief .. Wake up DUNDER HEADS your Leaders do not have your best interests at heart !!!... Bunch of lame a$$ dunder head-sheep... U all derserve what the elite has in store for u.......

    March 25, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • bimmer

      Go take your meds...Your Foolishness isn't helping anyone, nor is it entertaining in the least

      March 25, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  9. meee

    This is AWESOME!!! 3 legged mutants glow in the dark asians they would look like florescent bowling pins!! not to mention the destruction of the west coast gotta love it

    March 25, 2011 at 10:14 am | Report abuse |
  10. bimmer

    Really? Have you even tried to make sense of your idiotic post...I'm surprised you even know how to use a computer let alone comment on something you obviously have no understanding of at all. get a life and stop trying to make other people fear for theirs!!

    March 25, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |

      @bimmer.. most people i think or atleast me.. assume that most everything is bad for you now a days.. except maybe food you grow in a garden..

      March 26, 2011 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  11. David Band Esquire Sarasota Florida

    I am very proud of the way americans responded to this tragedy.

    March 25, 2011 at 10:21 am | Report abuse |
  12. alejandra

    The damage this can cause is terrible, not only for human, but also for animal life. Human is destroying the planet, killing wildlife and thowing chemicals to the fields...please!!!don't come to hunt wild animals to Argentina

    March 25, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |

    does anyone on here like dinosaurs

    March 25, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. Barney Rubble

    My friend Fred likes Dinosaurs. He even named his dog 'Dino'.

    March 25, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  15. alejandra

    Barney are you fooling at me?

    March 25, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
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