Japan live blog: Radiation levels spike near damaged nuclear plant
A rescue team looks for bodies among destroyed houses and debris in the tsunami-damaged town of Otsuchi in Iwate prefecture on March 26.
March 27th, 2011
09:19 AM ET

Japan live blog: Radiation levels spike near damaged nuclear plant

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.

[9:16 a.m. ET Sunday, 10:17 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Tokyo Electric says it is re-checking its results for a form of radioactive iodine in water from the No. 2 reactor's turbine building at Fukushima Daiichi after Japan's nuclear safety agency questioned extremely high figures released earlier Sunday.

[1:30 a.m. ET Sunday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Radiation levels in pooled water tested in the No. 2 nuclear reactor's turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are 10 million times normal, a power company official said Sunday. Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency reports the surface water showed 1,000 millisieverts of radiation. By comparison, an individual in a developed country is naturally exposed to 3 millisieverts per year, though Japan's health ministry has set a 250 millisievert per year cumulative limit before workers must leave the plant. One person was working in and around the No. 2 reactor when the test result became known, according to an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant. That individual subsequently left, and work there has stopped until the government signs off on the power company's plan to address the issue.

The process to start removing pooled water from that building had been set for late Sunday morning, Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official with Japan's nuclear safety agency, previously told reporters.

[1 a.m. ET Sunday, 2  p.m. Sunday in Tokyo] Radiation levels in pooled water tested in the No. 2 nuclear reactor's turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are 10 million times normal, a power company official said Sunday.

Japan's nuclear and industrial safety agency reports the surface water showed 1,000 millisieverts of radiation. By comparison, an individual in a developed country is naturally exposed to 3 millisieverts per year, though Japan's health ministry has set a 250 millisievert per year cumulative limit before workers must leave the plant.

One person was working in and around the No. 2 reactor when the test result became known, according to an official with the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant. That individual subsequently left, and work there has stopped until the government signs off on the power company's plan to address the issue.

The process to start removing pooled water from that building had been set for late Sunday morning, Hidehiko Nishiyama, an official with Japan's nuclear safety agency, previously told reporters.

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Filed under: 2011 tsunami • Japan
soundoff (135 Responses)
  1. Tony

    I don't get it, why don't they just bury those reactors in concrete and stop all this radiation?

    March 27, 2011 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Krista

      With everything still that hot the concrete would likely just turn to powder and/or cause a large explosion

      March 27, 2011 at 2:33 am | Report abuse |
    • B

      That is what they did to Chernobyl, I am betting they do it eventually here. They just aren't ready to give up yet. It seems time to me to close it in though...

      March 27, 2011 at 2:37 am | Report abuse |
    • JimHopf

      Because that would make the final solution and cleanup of the site vastly more difficult and expensive. This event is much more like TMI (although clearly worse) and the approach for stabilization and cleanup is, and should be, much more similar.

      Things are stable now, and the chance of a large scale release in the future is extremely remote. Eventually things will be brough under control, in a much more sensible fashion that just burying everything in concrete.

      March 27, 2011 at 2:51 am | Report abuse |
    • amendjm

      I so agree Tony...I just don't understand...they can't use anything there anyways because of using sea water...they are just contaminating population...I am no expert but watching this crisis is so sad....I think they need to bury it just like Chernobyl

      March 27, 2011 at 2:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Seer

      Burying the reactors in concrete will not work. The heat will decompose the concrete. Rising ocean levels will swamp the reactors and carry the.radiation into the sea. And finally, any concrete structure will crack and weather over 100 years, but the reactors and fuel pools will be dangerous for 100,000 years. The only alternative is to disassemble the plants and dispose of them properly... Which could be humanity's single most expensive project.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
    • John Bailo

      Don't get it? Old nuclear reactors have been described as "cash machines" because they currently outprice coal by 25 percent. The powers that be can't afford not to sacrifice people if there's any hope of getting up and running again.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Taramcar

      @John
      There is no hope of getting them running again. Everyone has said as much. They gave up that hope the second they sprayed them with seawater, and they will permanently decommission the plant once the crisis is over.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Amygadalus communis

      What they need to do is to get the core cooled, and then to seal it. With what you ask? I think something with the properties of tar would work. Something which can STAND the test of time, and the salt water. God Prays for all in their time of need. At least in My World, He/She does.

      March 27, 2011 at 7:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. Hurst

    I suppose because there is so much more involved.

    March 27, 2011 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
    • Amygadalus communis

      I know we all hate fearmongers, messing with our heads, but We must face what has been put before us. The End of Days is here! We must Pray, We must Stand. It is an undisputed fact. The Mayans were wrong! The World has been so F--D by the MEN in Power across the Globe, God moved the timetable up!

      March 27, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  3. Thhe most stupidquestion

    bombing for humanity..sounds very french in design. The question is why no boycott of offending oil interests? Is speigel media better at such obvious questions?

    March 27, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. T O'Connell

    I don't get it. Why is the 1:30am e.t post the exactly the same as the 1 am e.t. post?

    March 27, 2011 at 2:31 am | Report abuse |
  5. bozo

    1 sievert = 100 rads from the bomb day.. so it's a serious amount.. 1000 millisieverts = 1 sievert

    March 27, 2011 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
    • OMG!

      1 REM=100 millisieverts therefore the level is 100 REM. Radiation sickness does not begin until 100 REM exposure and the half life of the isotope that is being measured is 8 days. The mortality rate is less than 5% at these levels. CNN STOP using large numbers to scare people!!

      March 27, 2011 at 6:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Matt

    We can't entomb the reactors yet, they are still very dangerous. If we don't get them cooled down before covering them they might just meltdown without water and cause a steam explosion, thereby recreating Chernobyl multiplied by four. Getting them stable seems like beating around the bush, but it's the least dangerous, nobody wants a full meltdown. Problems can never be buried, even the scientists and engineers working to cover Chernobyl know that there is danger of it going supercritical again, there are lumps of radioactive material in the sarcophagus just waiting for some neutron bombardment to set them off. That is why they are building another structure above it to protect it better from the elements. It's all rather ridiculous this nuclear meltdown situation, human deformities cancers aside it creates a big hole in the ground unusable for thousands of years.

    March 27, 2011 at 2:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. GORBY

    WHEN WE HAD ACCIDENT AT CHERNOBLE WHICH MEANS (SILKWORM) IN UKRAINE LANGUAGE FIRST WE POUR BORAX ALL OVER REACTOR FUEL RODS THAT MAKES THEM COOL DOWN THEN WE COVER IN CEMENT & WELD DOORS SHUT FOREVER

    March 27, 2011 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      That is the hitch. These doors are never welded shut, there is ground seepage and residual uranium fuel sitting in the reactor once it's covered. This stuff doesn't just go away. I would recommend reading about the new cover they are building at Chernobyl, the accident happened in 1986 and the permanent containment structure hasn't even been built yet. There are slumps of melted uranium sitting in the bottom of the reactor that cannot be approached because it is too radioactive, we have to cover it with massive steel caps. Nuclear energy is fine and dandy until we get meltdowns happening, this cleanup will take a good 10-20 years. Chernobyl topper: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6999140.stm

      March 27, 2011 at 3:10 am | Report abuse |
  8. Bryttni in Washington state

    Wheew. I would have left if I was that guy also. They can't bury it in concrete yet, I believe., because it will make clean up harder.

    March 27, 2011 at 2:46 am | Report abuse |
  9. DigitalLoneX

    since plutonium is in the fuels i think every measure to keep the plutonium under control is being used,

    March 27, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Arne

    The radiation level is 1 Sv. Per what? Per hour? min? To judge the danger here one needs to know rates, Sv per time unit. The information in this article is not particularly useful.

    March 27, 2011 at 3:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      It's an hourly rate unless otherwise stated. 1Sv is enough to do some serious damage. A few hours exposure and you are looking certain death.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. BATMAN

    ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^I'M BATMAN^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    March 27, 2011 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  12. danny

    they need to put a sarcophagus around this NOW!!!! no more B.S. No more waiting. DEMAND IT NOW!

    March 27, 2011 at 3:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      They can't for a dozen reasons, all of which have been explained numerous times.

      March 27, 2011 at 3:23 am | Report abuse |
  13. danny

    ok matt please explain it to me.

    March 27, 2011 at 3:26 am | Report abuse |
  14. danny

    cover it as fast as possible to reduce the radiation being emitted as quickly as possible, all the while cooling it down in the interim. it cannot wait. worry about how to keep it from blowing up again after you have reduced the radiation being given off. what kind of hell dimension have we entered, damn.

    March 27, 2011 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jason

    Yea Matt, we are waiting.

    March 27, 2011 at 3:31 am | Report abuse |
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