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Japan Updates Show Deteriorating Situation

March 17, 2011


All six of the Fukushima reactors spent fuel rod pools are said to be dry, meaning they are heating up and will likely meltdown spreading high levels of radiation to the immediate area. It is suspected they are in the process of meltdown as are the reactor cores. Information has been sketchy and contradictory. U.S. officials are frustrated at the level of conflicting information coming out of Japan’s government. That’s almost laughable considering how our news is highly filtered and the hearings yesterday were sadly tainted with corporate rhetoric on safety and design of the U.S. 104 nuclear reactors.

Here are some updates of interest:

More defections of many companies from Tokyo to Osaka including the German embassy.

Deccan Herald also reports: The German foreign office recommends all Germans in the region around the Fukushima nuclear plant and in Tokyo to temporarily move to Osaka or return home via Osaka, the statement said.

Around 1,000 Germans working for a number of German companies operating in Japan are reported to be still in the country. Hundreds of them have returned to Germany since the devastating quake and tsunami struck Japan on Friday.

Concerns about nuclear radiation have prompted Germany and other countries to advise their nationals in Tokyo to leave the country or move to the relatively safer south. Tokyo is only about 270 kilometres south of the ill-fated nuclear complex in Fukushima and radiation levels in the capital city rose slightly in the past days.

The German government said it has no plans to evacuate its nationals from Japan and those intending to leave the country will have to take commercial flights. German airlines Lufthansa announced on Tuesday that it was operating extra flights to fly home those willing to leave the disaster region.

To speed up the return of Germans willing to leave the country and to facilitate their travel to Osaka, the German embassy in Tokyo has set up consular service centres at the Tokyo railway station, Osaka-Kobe railway station and at the Osaka airport, the statement said.

A German rescue team, which was sent to Japan last weekend to search for survivors of the disaster, ended their operation because a realistic chance for rescuing survivors no longer exists, the statement said.

BEYOND NUCLEAR: China, Britain, Germany and others push back on nukes: Not the U.S.

China, Britain, and Germany have already announced halts to new constructions and shut downs of some operating plants for safety checks. But the Obama administration, even in the midst of the nuclear disaster in Japan, publicly stated on Wednesday that the U.S. will continue to push ahead with nuclear expansion plans. Said Chu that the president’s budget calls for $36 billion for loan guarantees for new reactors. “The president’s budget is what it is,” he said. “That position has not been changed.” Outraged already? We are.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency yesterday endorsed the more cautious US approach, recommending Australians within 80km of the plant move outside this zone. “This is a precautionary measure only as the situation in Japan is unstable,” ARPANSA said in a statement.

Australian Times has excellent coverage of the ongoing problems in Japan.

SENIOR US officials have warned that the Fukushima nuclear emergency is far more serious than the Japanese government has acknowledged, as America moves to bolster Japan’s faltering response and avoid a full-scale meltdown.

As radiation continued to pour from at least two of the four badly damaged reactors yesterday, the Obama administration authorised the first evacuations of Americans from Japan, while the Pentagon prepared plans to protect its 40,000 troops stationed in the country from a possible nuclear meltdown.

In a detailed assessment of the crisis to US congress, the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, suggested the situation was far more serious than the Japanese had publicly acknowledged and warned that radiation levels at the plant had become “extremely high”.

Washington has sent in an unmanned Global Hawk spy plane to examine the damaged reactors and an eight-man team of NRC expert advisers.

More on Global Hawk:
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Ryan Aeronautical) RQ-4 Global Hawk (known as Tier II+ during development) is an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) used by the United States Air Force and Navy as a surveillance aircraft.

In role and operational design, the Global Hawk is similar to the Lockheed U-2, the venerable 1950s spy plane. It is a theater commander’s asset to provide a broad overview and systematic target surveillance. For this purpose, the Global Hawk is able to provide high resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)—that can penetrate cloud-cover and sandstorms— and Electro-Optical/Infrared (EO/IR) imagery at long range with long loiter times over target areas. It can survey as much as 40,000 square miles (100,000 square kilometers) of terrain a day.

Missions for the Global Hawk cover the spectrum of intelligence collection capability to support forces in worldwide peace, crisis, and wartime operations. According to the Air Force, the capabilities of the aircraft allow more precise targeting of weapons and better protection of forces through superior surveillance capabilities.

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