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Nuclear emergency declared in Japan after massive earthquake

Following the massive and devastating earthquake that hit Japan earlier today officials in the country has declared a state of emergency at the nuclear power plant in the Fukushima Prefecture. The state of emergency was issued at the plant after a cooling system failure. Japanese authorities say there is no radiation leak but that they are having trouble cooling the plant, Al Jazeera English reports.

We will continue the live-updates on this developing story here.

Update 23: According to some unverified sources, like this report (Japanese language), fuel rod have been exposed above cooling water level at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Around 50 cm of fuel rod bundle believed to be exposed. Also, we are getting news that the pressure release operation in Fukushima nuclear plant have been halted due to high radio activity.

Breaking news. Expert say fuel rod should not explode even if exposed out of water in Fukushima Nuclear Plant. #earthquake #japanless than a minute ago via web

Update 22: The Guardian summaries the current situation in Japan:

• Diesel generators that normally would have worked as back-ups to keep cooling systems running had been disabled by tsunami flooding.

• Power supply systems to provide emergency electricity for the plants were being put in place, the World Nuclear Association said.

• Both plants are light water reactors operated by the Tokyo Electric Power company (or Tepco):

Fukushima Daiichi (No 1) plant

- has six reactors, three of which were shut down for maintainence. Two of the remaining reactors, Unit 1 has significant problems with a rising temperature and in another the operator says it has lost cooling ability.

– the Unit 1 reactor has seen radiation levels inside its control room rise, and slightly higher radiation levels have been detected outside the reactor. Pressure inside the reactor is twice the normal level, and the operator has been forced to vent radioactive vapor to relieve the pressure.

Fukushima Daini (No 2) plant

– has four reactors, and in units 1, 2 and 4 of them the operator has said it has lost cooling ability.

– Tepco says pressure is stable inside the reactors of the Daini plant but rising in the containment vessels.

• Both plants have been declared to be in a state of emergency by the government, and residents moved outside of a 10km zone around both plants.

Update 21: Here is a map showing the location of the two nuclear power stations that have been declared to be in a state of emergency by the Japanese government:

[caption id="attachment_2677" align="alignnone" width="550" caption="The Fukushima Daini and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power stations."][/caption]

Update 20: Reuters report now that TEPCO are having difficulties to open a valve to release pressure at the Daiichi reactor.

ALERT-TEPCO having difficulties trying to open valve to release pressure at Daiichi reactor: Kyodo #japan #tsunamiless than a minute ago via HootSuite

Update 19: Bloomberg reports that Tokyo Electric Power Co. has started venting gas from one of the reactors.

"Japan’s government ordered the utility to begin releasing gas to reduce a rise in pressure in the reactor. Radiation spread by the release won’t be at a level dangerous to health, said Ryohei Shiomi, a spokesman at the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency."

Tokyo Electric Power Co. are now also apparently preparing to vent gas from a second reactor at the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant.

Update 18: Reuters report that Japan may only have "hours to prevent nuclear meltdown" following "a highly unusual "station blackout"".

Update 17: The Huffington Post asks if nuclear reactors in the USA could withstand an enormous quake similar to the one in Japan. "We do not believe the safety standards for U.S. nuclear reactors are enough to protect the public today," Edwin Lyman, senior scientist, global security programs, at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said. Reuters also have an article explaining what could happen when a reactor loses coolant. And here are some basic background on what's happening with the Fukushima nuclear plant from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Update 16: The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in the UK have released a statement on the nuclear emergency situation in Japan saying that "today's incident underlines the constant danger that nuclear power presents":

Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said "We are deeply saddened at today's loss of life and hope that the emergency at the Fukushima plant is resolved quickly and without further incident. The policy of building ever more nuclear power stations increases the likelihood that a natural disaster such as today's earthquake could be significantly worsened or even dwarfed by a nuclear emergency. Both Japan and Britain locate all their nuclear plants on the coast to take advantage of unbroken supplies of cooling water. But this also exposes them to the brunt of both tsunamis and the coastal floods which are likely to become ever more frequent due to climate change. With the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster next month, today's incident underlines the constant danger that nuclear power presents due to events totally beyond the control of power station operations. We urge the government to reconsider its support for building new nuclear power stations in Britain."

Update 15: The situation in Fukushima seems to be escalating as the Guardian reports that the cooling systems has now failed at three other reactors at the nuclear power station:

"Now there are reports from nuclear plant operator Tepco that the Fukushima Daini plant has lost cooling to three of its reactors. It was one reactor in the Fukushima Daiichi plant that had been the cause for concern earlier – so this news is certainly unwelcome. According to Dow-Jones, Tepco says that the temperatures of its No 1 and No 2 reactors at its Fukushima Daini nuclear power station are rising, and it has lost control over pressure within the reactors."

AJE writes now: "With a state of emergency declared at another nuclear reactor, there are now five reactors under a state of emergency - two at Fukushima No.1 plant, and three at the nearby Fukushima No.2 plant."

Update 14: AJE reports that:

"Dozens of troops trained for chemical disasters have been sent to the Fukushima nuclear plant in case of a radiation leak, along with four vehicles designed for use in atomic, biological and chemical warfare, says defence ministry official Ippo Maeyama."

And that "a total of 45,000 people living within a 10km radius of the Fukushima nuclear power plant have now been told to evacuate their homes". This is really a steep increase from the 3000-6000 people who were gonna be evacuated initially.

Update 13: Tyler Durden over at zerohedge.com writes that the Japanese officials only have 24 hours to avoid a core meltdown scenario:

In an interview with Mark Hibbs, a Berlin-based senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a nonprofit think tank, Newsmax magazine asks - what happens next at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. The answer according to the nuclear expert, is that as Fukushima is now well on its way to a full core-melt nuclear accident,
a worst case scenario could possibly lead to the same results last seen in 1986 Chernobyl

Update 12: Reuters reports that Tepco has lost the ability to control reactor pressure at Fukushima Daini nos. 1, 2, 4 reactors. But according to Tepco the pressure in the reactors is still stable.

Tepco says has lost ability to control reactor pressure at Fukushima Daini nos. 1, 2, 4 reactorsless than a minute ago via web

Update 11: AJE writes that: "Japan's nuclear safety agency says some radiation has now seeped outside the plant, prompting calls for further evacuation of the area, says the Associated Press news agency."

Update 10: If you are interested in more live-updates not just about the Fukushima nuclear power plant the Guardian and Al Jazeera English has both fast updates on the situation currently unfolding in Japan.

Update 9: According to AFP the radiation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has reached levels 1,000 times of normal levels. And finally AJE can bring some sense to the story about US involvement. They report that: "Meanwhile, contrary to earlier reports, officials say that the US did not deliver nuclear coolant material, and that Japanese authorities handled the situation themselves."

Update 8: Japan officials are now expanding the evacuation area around the Fukushima nuclear plant from 3 km to 10 km, Reuters report.

Japan PM Kan orders expansion of evacuation area around Fukushima nuclear plant to 10 km from 3 kmless than a minute ago via web

Update 7: An independent nuclear safety analyst tells AJE that Japan officials must "manage a balancing act at the Fukushima nuclear power plant". Quote from the AJE live-blog:

"He says there is a risk of exposing the public if they try to contain radioactive steam, once vented from the reactor, in the secondary dome - as it may also have been damaged during the earthquake. This means there may be a leak. However, not venting the steam - as the pressure in the reactor builds - may lead to a much worse danger being posed."

Update 6: Pressure building in the plant was set to be released soon, a move that could result in a radiation leak, officials said. Some 3,000 people who live within a 3km radius of the plant have been evacuated, Kyodo news agency said. Cabinet chief Yukio Edanotol says that:

It's possible that radioactive material in the reactor vessel could leak outside but the amount is expected to be small and the wind blowing towards the sea will be considered. Residents are safe, after those within a 3km radius were evacuated, and those within a 10km radius staying indoors - so we want people to be calm.

Update 5: The Fukushima nuclear power plant, where cooling systems were knocked out by the quake, is located 240km north of Tokyo. The Huffington Post reports that "the radiation level was rising in the turbine building and the pressure had risen to 1.5 times the designed capacity." And AJE reports that "officials at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will release "slightly radioactive vapour" to ease pressure in one of the reactors after the cooling system failed following the huge earthquake".

Update 4: Now we are getting information that "a small radiation leak could occur" at the nuclear plant in Japan:

Japan's trade minister, Banri Kaieda, says a small radiation leak could occur at the Fukushima nuclear plant,Kyodo News Agency reported Sat.less than a minute ago via HootSuite

Update 3: More updates on the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant from AJE: Nearly 6,000 residents living in a three-kilometre radius of the Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant, where a cooling failure was reported, have now been ordered to evacuate.

"An instruction has been issued to residents within a radius of three kilometres to evacuate and those within three to 10 kilometres to stay indoors," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.

"This is an evacuation instruction just for precaution, and there has been no radiation leak from the reactor."

Update 2: More updates on the nuclear emergency from Reuters who says that the United States has transported coolant to the Fukushima nuclear plant. The report quotes Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, as saying:

"We just had our Air Force assets in Japan transport some really important coolant to one of the nuclear plants. You know Japan is very reliant on nuclear power and they have very high engineering standards, but one of their plants came under a lot of stress with the earthquake and didn't have enough coolant."

Update 1: Al Jazeera English reports that: Authorities have told residents living near the Fukushima nuclear plant, hit by a fire earlier, to evacuate the area. Authorities said peole living in a two kilometre radius of the No.2 reactor of the Fukushima No.1 plant should leave.

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I really hope that officials in Japan will be able to handle this nuclear emergency and that there will be no serious radiation leaks at the Fukushima plant. Maybe this situation will get the pro-nuclear folks to again consider the very real dangers of nuclear energy?

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I do hope Japan will be totally  reestablised after this catastrophy.  I think they should use more and more wind power now at least, like in  many Europen countries. By the way, if you need to  edit a picture, you may visit my site. I hope  you'll like it!

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