Sunday, March 13, 2011

New VIdeo from japan update march 13...




Around 200,000 people have been evacuated from near two Japanese nuclear power stations as fear spreads of radiation exposure.

The evacuations were ordered after nine people showed signs of possible exposure to radiation at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plants.

An official from the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told a news conference that up to 160 people may have suffered radiation exposure.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said evacuations around both affected nuclear plants northeast of Tokyo were well underway.

Japan races to avert multiple nuclear meltdowns

Japan's nuclear crisis deepens Play Video Reuters  – Japan's nuclear crisis deepens
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An official wears protective clothing while waiting to scan people for radiation an emergency center on Sunday, March 13, 2011, in Koriyama, northeast AP – An official wears protective clothing while waiting to scan people for radiation an emergency center …

KORIYAMA, Japan – Japan's nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 170,000 people evacuated the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination.
Nuclear plant operators were frantically trying to keep temperatures down in a series of nuclear reactors — including one where officials feared a partial meltdown could be happening Sunday — to prevent the disaster from growing worse.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano also said Sunday that a hydrogen explosion could occur at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, the latest reactor to face a possible meltdown. That follows a blast the day before in the power plant's Unit 1, and operators attempted to prevent a meltdown there by injecting sea water into it.
"At the risk of raising further public concern, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion," Edano said. "If there is an explosion, however, there would be no significant impact on human health."
More than 170,000 people had been evacuated as a precaution, though Edano said the radioactivity released into the environment so far was so small it didn't pose any health threats.
"First I was worried about the quake," Kenji Koshiba, a construction worker who lives near the plant. "Now I'm worried about radiation." He spoke at an emergency center in Koriyama town near the power plant in Fukushima.
Edano said none of the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors was near the point of complete meltdown, and he was confident of escaping the worst scenarios.
A complete meltdown — the collapse of a power plant's ability to keep temperatures under control — could release uranium and dangerous contaminants into the environment and pose major, widespread health risks.
Up to 160 people, including 60 elderly patients and medical staff who had been waiting for evacuation in the nearby town of Futabe, and 100 others evacuating by bus, might have been exposed to radiation, said Ryo Miyake, a spokesman from Japan's nuclear agency. The severity of their exposure, or if it had reached dangerous levels, was not clear. They were being taken to hospitals.
Edano said operators were trying to cool and decrease the pressure in the Unit 3 reactor, just as they had the day before at Unit 1.
"We're taking measures on Unit 3 based on a similar possibility" of a partial meltdown, Edano said.
Japan struggled with the nuclear crisis as it tried to determine the scale of the Friday disasters, when an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the most powerful in the country's recorded history, was followed by a tsunami that savaged its northeastern coast with breathtaking speed and power.
More than 1,400 people were killed and hundreds more were missing, according to officials, but police in one of the worst-hit areas estimated the toll there alone could eventually top 10,000.
The scale of the multiple disasters appeared to be outpacing the efforts of Japanese authorities to bring the situation under control more than two days after the initial quake.
Rescue teams were struggling to search hundreds of miles (kilometers) of devastated coastline, and hundreds of thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers cut off from rescuers and aid. At least 1.4 million households had gone without water since the quake, and food and gasoline were quickly running out across the region. Large areas of the countryside were surrounded by water and unreachable. Some 2 million households were without electricity.
Japanese Trade Minister Banri Kaieda warned that the region was likely to face further blackouts, and power would be rationed to ensure supplies to essential facilities.
The government doubled the number of troops pressed into rescue and recovery operations to about 100,000 from 51,000, as powerful aftershocks continued to rock the country. Hundreds have hit since the initial temblor.
Unit 3 at the Fukushima plant is one of three reactors there that had automatically shut down and lost cooling functions necessary to keep fuel rods working properly due to a power outage from the quake. The facility's Unit 1 is also in trouble, but Unit 2 has been less affected.
On Saturday, an explosion destroyed the walls of Unit 1 as operators desperately tried to prevent it from overheating and melting down.
Without power, and with its valves and pumps damaged by the tsunami, authorities resorted to drawing sea water mixed with boron in an attempt to cool the unit's overheated uranium fuel rods. Boron disrupts nuclear chain reactions.
The move likely renders the 40-year-old reactor unusable, said a foreign ministry official briefing reporters. Officials said the sea water will remain inside the unit, possibly for several months.
Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and former senior policy adviser to the U.S. secretary of energy, told reporters that the sea water was a desperate measure.
"It's a Hail Mary pass," he said.
He said that the success of using sea water and boron to cool the reactor will depend on the volume and rate of their distribution. He said the dousing would need to continue nonstop for days.
Another key, he said, was the restoration of electrical power, so that normal cooling systems can operate.
Edano said the cooling operation at Unit 1 was going smoothly after the sea water was pumped in.
Operators released slightly radioactive air from Unit 3 on Sunday, while injecting water into it hoping to reduce pressure and temperature to prevent a possible meltdown, Edano said.
He said radiation levels just outside the plant briefly rose above legal limits, but since had declined significantly. Also, fuel rods were exposed briefly, he said, indicating that coolant water didn't cover the rods for some time. That would have contributed further to raising the temperature in the reactor vessel.
At an evacuation center in Koriyama, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) from the troubled reactors and 125 miles (190 kilometers) north of Tokyo, medical experts had checked about 1,500 people for radiation exposure in an emergency testing center, an official said.
On Sunday, a few dozen people waited to be checked in a collection of blue tents set up in a parking lot outside a local gymnasium. Fire engines surrounded the scene, with their lights flashing.
Many of the gym's windows were shattered by the quake, and glass shards littered the ground.
A steady flow of people — the elderly, schoolchildren and families with babies — arrived at the center, where they were checked by officials wearing helmets, surgical masks and goggles.
Officials placed five reactors, including Units 1 and 3 at Dai-ichi, under states of emergency Friday after operators lost the ability to cool the reactors using usual procedures.
An additional reactor was added to the list early Sunday, for a total of six — three at the Dai-ichi complex and three at another nearby complex. Local evacuations have been ordered at each location. Japan has a total of 55 reactors spread across 17 complexes nationwide.
Officials began venting radioactive steam at Fukushima Dai-ichi's Unit 1 to relieve pressure inside the reactor vessel, which houses the overheated uranium fuel.
Concerns escalated dramatically Saturday when that unit's containment building exploded.
Officials were aware that the steam contained hydrogen and were risking an explosion by venting it, acknowledged Shinji Kinjo, spokesman for the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, but chose to do so because they needed to keep circulating cool water on the fuel rods to prevent a meltdown.
Officials insisted there was no significant radioactive leak after the explosion.
If a full-scale meltdown were to occur, experts interviewed by The Associated Press said melted fuel would eat through the bottom of the reactor vessel, then through the floor of the containment building. At that point, the uranium and dangerous byproducts would start escaping into the environment.
Eventually, the walls of the reactor vessel — six inches (15 centimeters) of stainless steel — would melt into a lava-like pile, slump into any remaining water on the floor, and potentially cause an explosion that would enhance the spread of radioactive contaminants.
If the reactor core became exposed to the outside, officials would likely began pouring cement and sand over the entire facility, as was done at the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Ukraine, Peter Bradford, a former commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told reporters.
Another expert, physicist Ken Bergeron, told reporters that as a result of such a meltdown the surrounding land would be off-limits for a long time and "a lot of first responders would die."
___
Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writers Tomoko A. Hosaka in Tokyo and Jeff Donn in Boston contributed to this report.
(This version CORRECTS that final quote is from Bergeron instead of Bradford; corrects spelling of trade minister's name in paragraph 16 to Kaieda instead of Kaeda)
Quake Reuters/Formosat image/Dr. Cheng-Chien Liu, GEODAC, National Cheng-Kung University and Dr. An-Ming Wu, National Space Organization, Taiwan/Handout

Japan quake-tsunami death toll likely over 10,000

Rescue operation in Sendai Play Video Reuters  – Rescue operation in Sendai
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In this photo released by the Japanese Defense Agency, Hiromitsu Shinkawa, right, waves to rescuers before being rescued to a Maritime Self-Defense Fo AP – In this photo released by the Japanese Defense Agency, Hiromitsu Shinkawa, right, waves to rescuers before …

TAGAJO, Japan – People across a devastated swath of Japan suffered for a third day Sunday without water, electricity and proper food, as the country grappled with the enormity of a massive earthquake and tsunami that left more than 10,000 people dead in one area alone.
Japan's prime minister called the crisis the most severe challenge the nation has faced since World War II, as the grim situation worsened. Friday's disasters damaged two nuclear reactors, potentially sending one through a partial meltdown and adding radiation contamination to the fears of an unsettled public.
Temperatures began sinking toward freezing, compounding the misery of survivors along hundreds of miles (kilometers) of the northeastern coast battered by the tsunami that smashed inland with breathtaking fury. Rescuers pulled bodies from mud-covered jumbles of wrecked houses, shattered tree trunks, twisted cars and tangled power lines while survivors examined the ruined remains.
In Rikusentakata, a port city of over 20,000 virtually wiped out by the tsunami, Etsuko Koyama escaped the water rushing through the third flood of her home but lost her grip on her daughter's hand and has not found her.
"I haven't given up hope yet," Koyama told public broadcaster NHK, wiping tears from her eyes. "I saved myself, but I couldn't save my daughter."
To the south, in Miyagi prefecture, or state, the police chief told a gathering of disaster relief officials that his estimate for deaths was more than 10,000, police spokesman Go Sugawara told The Associated Press. Miyagi has a population of 2.3 million and is one of the three prefectures hardest hit in Friday's disaster. Only 379 people have officially been confirmed as dead in Miyagi.
According to officials, at least 1,200 people were killed — including 200 people whose bodies were found Sunday along the coast — and 739 were missing in the disasters.
For Japan, one of the leading economies with ultramodern infrastructure, the disasters made ordinary life unimaginably difficult.
Hundreds of thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers that were cut off from rescuers, aid and electricity. At least 1.4 million households had gone without water since the quake struck and some 1.9 million households were without electricity.
While the government doubled the number of soldiers deployed in the aid effort to 100,000 and sent 120,000 blankets, 120,000 bottles of water and 110,000 liters of gasoline plus food to the affected areas, Prime Minister Nato Kan said electricity would take days to restore. In the meantime, he said, electricity would be rationed with rolling blackouts to several cities, including Tokyo.
"This is Japan's most severe crisis since the war ended 65 years ago," Kan told reporters, adding that Japan's future would be decided by the response to this crisis.
In a rare piece of good news, the Defense Ministry said a military vessel on Sunday rescued a 60-year-old man floating off the coast of Fukushima on the roof of his house after being swept away in the tsunami. He was in good condition.
Large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable. Fuel stations were closed and people were running out of gasoline for their vehicles.
In the town of Minamisanrikucho, 10,000 people — nearly two-thirds of the population — have not been heard from since the tsunami wiped it out, a government spokesman said. NHK showed only a couple concrete structures still standing, and the bottom three floors of those buildings gutted. One of the few buildings standing was a hospital, and a worker told NHK hospital staff rescued about a third of the patients in the facility.
In Iwaki town, residents were leaving due to concerns over dwindling food and fuel supplies. The town had no electricity and all stores were closed. Local police took in about 90 people and gave them blankets and rice balls but there was no sign of government or military aid trucks.
At a large refinery on the outskirts of the hard-hit port city of Sendai, 100-foot (30-meter) -high bright orange flames rose in the air, spitting out dark plumes of smoke. The facility has been burning since Friday. The fire's road could be heard from afar, and a gaseous stench burned the eyes and throat.
"My water is cut off," said Kenji Fukuda, who lives in the rural town of Sukugawa. It "is a little bit rural and there is natural well water. We take it and put it through the water purifier and warm it up and use it in various ways," he said.
In the small town of Tagajo, near Sendai, dazed residents roamed streets cluttered with smashed cars, broken homes and twisted metal.
Residents said the water surged in and quickly rose higher than the first floor of buildings. At Sengen General Hospital the staff worked feverishly to haul bedridden patients up the stairs one at a time. With the halls now dark, those that can leave have gone to the local community center.
"There is still no water or power, and we've got some very sick people in here," said hospital official Ikuro Matsumoto.
One older neighborhood sits on low ground near a canal. The tsunami came in from the canal side and blasted through the frail wooden houses, coating the interiors with a thick layer of mud and spilling their contents out into the street on the other side.
"It's been two days, and all I've been given so far is a piece of bread and a rice ball," said Masashi Imai, 56.
Police cars drove slowly through the town and warned residents through loudspeakers to seek higher ground, but most simply stood by and watched them pass.
Dozens of countries have offered assistance. Two U.S. aircraft carrier groups were off Japan's coast and ready to provide assistance. Helicopters were flying from one of the carriers, the USS Ronald Reagan, delivering food and water in Miyagi.
Two other U.S. rescue teams of 72 personnel each and rescue dogs were scheduled to arrive later Sunday, as was a five-dog team from Singapore.
In Sendai, firefighters with wooden picks dug through a devastated neighborhood. One of them yelled: "A corpse." Inside a house, he had found the body of a gray-haired woman under a blanket.
A few minutes later, the firefighters spotted another — that of a man in black fleece jacket and pants, crumpled in a partial fetal position at the bottom of a wooden stairwell. From outside, the house seemed almost untouched, two cracks in the white walls the only signs of damage.
The man's neighbor, 24-year-old Ayumi Osuga, dug through the remains of her own house, her white mittens covered by dark mud.
Osuga said she had been playing origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into figures, with her three children when the quake stuck. She recalled her husband's shouted warning from outside: "'GET OUT OF THERE NOW!'"
She gathered her children — aged 2 to 6 — and fled in her car to higher ground with her husband. They spent the night huddled in a hilltop home belonging to her husband's family about 12 miles (20 kilometers) away.
"My family, my children. We are lucky to be alive," she said.
"I have come to realize what is important in life," Osuga said, nervously flicking ashes from a cigarette onto the rubble at her feet as a giant column of black smoke billowed in the distance.
___
Todd Pitman reported from Sendai. Associated Press writers Eric Talmadge and Kelly Olsen in Koriyama and Malcolm J. Foster, Mari Yamaguchi, Tomoko A. Hosaka and Shino Yuasa in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Cuba condemns U.S. contractor to 15 years in prison for subversion

Mauricio Vicent | Havana 12/03/2011

After a week of deliberations, the Court Havana Provincial order issued Saturday by the adjudication American's Alan Gross: 15 years in prison, five fewer than the prosecution requested, charged with the crime of performing "acts against the independence and integrity of the State "for" participating in a subversive project "that aimed at creating "clandestine network of info-communications" outside control of the authorities. Gross, 61, was arrested on 3 December 2009 in Havana when he worked for a company subcontracted by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which spends millions of dollars annually various programs to "promote democracy" in Cuba.
The government of Raul Castro Gross accused of illegally entering the island several satellite communication equipment for distribution among sectors of the opposition, something which Washington has always denied, arguing that the contractor simply traveled to Cuba to help the small Jewish community, and provide their members of various teams to connect to the Internet. Relatives contractor has admitted that during 2009 he had traveled to the island five times, but say that Gross is innocent.
In view  oral, which lasted two days, unable to attend the wife of Gross, attorneys family and consular representatives of the Section of Interests United States (SINA). The court's decision is appealable to the Supreme Court.
The trial against the contractor, at a time that the administration of Barack Obama had taken some steps, though Shy-line flexible, however, has generated new Tensions between the two countries. The State Department has warned that  while the U.S. citizen is imprisoned in Cuba will not "Advanced" in a bilateral, while Havana has exhibited the case as a demonstration that Washington's support for "subversion" in Cuba has not changed with Obama.
On the eve of view, Cuba's intelligence services uncovered three agents infiltrated the ranks of the opposition, who participated on television and accused the United States to organize and fund dissent and of being behind the formation of independent journalists and bloggers, critics, encouraging the use of Internet for destabilizing. During the trial, the ministry Gross prosecutor accused involved "directly" to "the introduction and development in the country of a subversive project "that" was as white  essential the youth sector, universities cultural religious, female and racial groups. "The United States Government,  and especially Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has called on  several occasions for the unconditional release of Gross, ensuring that their actions do not constitute a crime free country.
A  of the scenarios handled in diplomatic circles is that following the Gross trial and sentencing, the government of Raul Castro might dictate a measure of grace and allow their departure.
Alan Gross llega al tribunal de La Habana el pasado 5 de marzo.
Alan Gross arrives at court in Havana on 5 March.- ASSOCIATED PRESS S: http://www.elpais.com/ Translations Expert LPPNEWS OCR FrontLine Results