Update: 8:35AM ET: Milk and spinach with higher-than-normal radiation levels have been found near the plant (Kyodo). The radiation levels are not high enough to pose a risk to people.

Update: Saturday, 8:28AM ET: Power cable connected to reactors 1 and 2. Engineers will try to restart pumps at these reactors on Sunday morning. There is no guarantee that the pumps still work (and given the number of explosions and fires at the plant, it wouldn’t be surprising if they didn’t).


Update 14:38: According to Reuters, electricity can now be supplied to the plant. Of course, we’ve heard this several times already. We shall see.

Update 10:43: The first radioactive particles have been found in the US, says AP.

Update 10:38: It’s been an extremely quiet morning. The NYT reports on an increased exodus of foreigners in Japan. Airlines say flights out are booking up fast.


Update 7:38: There was just a good technical discussion of the crisis on NHK. One thing that’s clear: simply plugging in everything won’t solve the problem, because whatever pumps they plug into may be too severely damaged.

naoto kan

7:16 AM ET: Japanese PM Naoto Kan is addressing the nation. We’re covering LIVE.

Acknowledges that there have been some errors. Japan will overcome.

Situation at Fukushima still “very grave.”

Speaking a lot about “resolve” and staying optimistic. Kan says all information is being made public.

At the end, he said again that the situation is grave, but that soon it will be under control.

5:25 AM ET: Good news: radiation levels in Tokyo still negligible — Dow Jones.

5:12 AM ET: Another flash from the Japan nuclear agency: cables bringing electricty to reactors 1 and 2 are expected to be connected by Saturday

5:02 AM ET: According to KY ODO, the reactors 1, 2, and 3 are now level 5 accidents. That’s the same level as Three Mile Island

4:32 AM ET: Interesting, according to the AP, Japan is considering the Chernobyl solution, which is burying the entire plant in some kind of slurry of cement and sand.

Japanese engineers conceded on Friday that burying a crippled nuclear plant in sand and concrete may be the only way to prevent a catastrophic radiation release, the method used to seal huge leakages from Chernobyl in 1986.

“It is not impossible to encase the reactors in concrete. But our priority right now is to try and cool them down first,” an official from the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, told a news conference.

4:23 AM ET 3/18: It’s been a while since there’s been substantial movement one way or another at the plant, and grimly, the media is already forgetting about it (a little). Japanese Cabinet Minister Yukio Edano says it’s “almost certain” that water drops have hit their target, according to KYODO. Plans to crank up the generators are ongoing, but are clearly not finished yet.


8:03 PM: There’s talk that the generator is up and running to at least two of the reactors, and also some hopeful talk about the helicopter drops.

In the meantime, TEPCO has released new video of the plant, as taken from a helicopter.

It’s a wreck:




 THE LATEST: Obama just gave a reassuring but mostly insignificant statement on the nuke crisis. He reaffirmed that only a 50-mile radius of Fukushima is at risk.

Meanwhile the crisis continues unabated.

Water spray by helicopter and truck has had mixed effects. This morning radiation seemed to be increasing. Briefly TEPCO said they were working. Other reports say they are not.

Everything depends on efforts to restart cooling systems, through a powerline attached earlier.

Obama says there is a “substantial risk” to people who are nearby. But: “I want to be very clear, we do not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the United States.”

Earlier today the State Department told Americans to leave Japan. Now the U.S. is also pulling out search & rescue teams and offering voluntary evacuations for military families.


[Read a detailed timeline below.]


13:16 ET: The U.S. military says 20,000 dependents in Japan are eligible for voluntary evacuation, according to NYPost.

Also there are reports of low radiation detected in planes that flew from Tokyo to the U.S.

12:57 ET: US and UK search & rescue teams will pull out of Japan tomorrow, according to the Telegraph. Thousands are still missing.

12:42 ET: At 3:30, Obama is going to issue a statement about Japan.

12:12 ET: For real this time? Nikkei Wire is reporting that a new power line has been installed at the plant.

12:08 ET: According to the IAEA, things are still bad, but there’s been no significant worsening.

11:41 ET There are reports of two new diesel generators coming online soon.

EARLIER: The next best hope is to reconnect the plant to the grid with a new line power line. This attempt will occur within hours, says TEPCO.

The threat of meltdown continues as water is exhausted in the spent pools, and the only option is water drops by helicopter.

U.S. authorities say radiation is “extremely high” and encourage all Americans to leave Japan.

Here’s the link to the State Department warning.

7:35 ET: According to a new headline from Kyodo Wire, radiation levels jumped AFTER the latest water shot.

6:36 ET: According to NHK, via Reuters, radiation has surged again and the helicopter water spraying has come to a temporary halt.

5:57 ET: The freakout abroad continues. There are reports of South Koreans arriving in Seoul from Japan with unusually high radiation levels. And the Hong Kong government urges citizens to leave the country.

5:43 ET: Hong Kong tells its citizens to leave Tokyo as soon as possible, according to Reuters. Can we expect a similar statement from China?

5:05 ET: Japan’s nuclear agency cannot confirm whether water is covering spent fuel rods at No. 4.

4:31 ET: Reuters: US urges citizens to flee Japan.

4:16 ET: According to Kyodo Wire, the government is set to hold more emergency meetings soon, followed by another Yukio Edano press conference.

4:11 ET 3/17: It’s all going to come down to this plan to reconnect the plant to the power grid. That’s expected “within hours.”

Get ready for another day of obsessively watching the headlines.

nisa fukushima

21:34 ET 3/16: Regulators in Japan are speaking nowon the situation. We’re covering LIVE.

The speaker gave a rundown of the situation at the 6 reactors.

The power plant will be re-hooked up to the grid soon, though even then it will be a while before everything’s working at full speed.

20:53 ET 3/16: IF you turn to NHK right now, you can watch helicopters dropping water on the plant right now.

helicopter fukushima

20:41 ET 3/16: BREAKING Japan Nuclear Agency says nuke plant could be reconnected to power grid THIS afternoon.

20:38 ET 3/16: A couple flashes from Reuters. One is that TEPCO is preparing, again to inject more water. The other is that radiation levels are actually DECLINING around the reactor. So, all things considered, not horrible news.

20:25 ET 3/16: The Nikkei has opened. After its big rally on Wednesday, stocks are diving.

Meanwhile, Stars and Stripes has details on the Pentagon’s worst-case-scenario disaster preparation.

EARLIER 3/16:  All of the water is gone from one of the spent fuel pools, says U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief Gregory Jaczko. That means there’s nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and melting down, according to the AP.

Meanwhile TEPCO says it can’t confirm when a power line meant to ease the crisis will be completed. This contradicts an earlier report that said the powerline was nearly ready, which caused the market to shoot higher.

Japan’s Police Agency raised the quake death doll over 4,000, with more than 8,000 missing.

The Japanese Nuclear Agency will brief the press at 8PM ET, according to CNBC.

14:54 ET: The Japan electric company says that a new power line that will solve the nuclear crisis is nearly ready, according to the AP. That headline has seen markets rebound as a result.

The wire could help to bring electricity back to the complex, which could assist with the cooling of the reactors.

 This follows disturbing comments from US authorities. Energy secretary Steven Chu says a reactor may have experienced  “partial meltdown” and that the situation is worse than 3 Mile Island.

Also U.S. nuclear regulatory committee chief Gregory Jaczko said radiation levels are “extremely high.” Jackzko also believes reactor 4 has no water and has called for radius to be evacuated larger than that called for by Japanese officials.

The UK’s Foreign Office is now advising all British citizens in Tokyo, and north of Tokyo, to move away from the area, according to Sky. 

The U.S. government is telling its citizens that live within 50 miles of Fukushima to remain indoors or evacuate, according to Reuters.

Click here for a map showing the affected area >

UPDATE 12:36: Now the EU Energy Commissioner responsible for the earlier catastrophe comment says he did not say a catastrophe was going to happen, rather that it was his fear.

IAEA  has denied the situation is “out of control,” via CNBC.

UPDATE 11:55: Fuel rods in reactors 4, 5, and 6 are now exposed and four reactor units have core damage, according to the IAEA (via Bloomberg).

The EU energy minister responsible for the earlier comments claims he got his information from the EU, IAEA, Japan, and media reports.

UPDATE 11:01 Horrible headline crossing the wires via RanSquawk: EU ENERGY CHIEF SAYS POSSIBLE CATASTROPHIC EVENT IN NEXT HOURS.

He’s also — and this is via Dow Jones — calling the situation “out of control”

The market briefly got hammered by this but has already recovered.

Update 9:16: DigitalGlobe has a great before-after image of the explosions at the reactors.


Photo: DigitalGlobe


Update 6:51 AM: A depressing read here from the New York Times sizing up the situation.

Update 5:51: And now according to Kyodo Wire, there are concerns at #5 and #6.


Update 5:03 AM: According to broadcaster NHK, Japan’s defence Forces have aborted its latest plans to spray water on reactor #3.

Evidently it was deemed too dangerous, due to radiation. Plans are being drawn up for a ground attack on the nuke plant — i.e., water canons, which are not reassuring.

Update 4:49 AM ET: Nouriel Roubini’s shop RGE Monitor (via @tracyalloway) has sent out a note on the crisis, predicting it gets upgraded from a 4 to a 5. The note is authored by Mikka Peneda:

This year marks Chernobyl’s 25th anniversary, and how ironic it is that the world has a new nuclear emergency on its hands: Japan’s Fukushima power plant, operated by TEPCO. The situation at Fukushima continues to worsen, with explosions at two more reactors and the radiation released surpassing that of Three Mile Island. The 40-year-old reactors, designed by General Electric, were due for decommissioning at the end of this month.

The Fukushima nuclear incident will likely be upgraded from a level 4 to a 5 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. The scale runs from 0 to 7—the most severe. The incident will remain “an event with local consequences,” although this excludes the consequences for the expansion of nuclear power generation around the world. Three Mile Island was a level 5; Chernobyl was a level 7—the only level 7 event so far.

Regarding Three Mile Island…

In 1979, Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island (TMI) power plant experienced a cascade of events more similar to those of Fukushima. TMI was a pressurised water reactor; Fukushima was a boiling water reactor. There’s little difference between the two insofar as both used water to cool and regulate the reactors, except that TMI had a pressurizer. Like Fukushima, Three Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI-2) was vented into the air to reduce pressure in the core, releasing some fissile products (Cesium-137 and Iodine-131—the same products released from Fukushima). TMI-2 also experienced a small hydrogen explosion, which tore off the exterior walls of the containment building, and a partial core meltdown. Cleanup cost US$975 million and took 14 years to complete.



Update 3:53 ET AM ET: NHK has released pictures showing again just how badly damaged reactors #3 and #4 are.

There’s also talk of another possible radiation leak at reactor #2 due to a collapse in pressure.


Photo: NHK

Update 1:25 am EST March 16: Tokyo Electric Power Co. just released this photo of reactors #4 (centre) and #3 (left) at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant taken the day before. (Photo: TEPCO via Yomiuri)

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said that the most recent spike in radiation may stem from a damaged containment vessel in reactor No. 3, where rising smoke or steam was also observed on Wednesday. (via Marketwatch and CNN)

tepco, reactor 4, fukushima, march 2011

Photo: TEPCO via Yomiuri

Around the same time when a fire broke out in reactor #4 yesterday, there was another explosion in reactor #2 that ruptured a containment vessel. Both almost simultaneous incidents (along with the smoke from reactor #3 on Wednesday) caused the surge in radiation, which forced the Japanese government to evacuate the workers.Update 11:39 pm EST: Japan has evacuated most workers and suspended temporarily efforts to prevent the Fukushima nuclear plant from melting down after increasing radiation levels became too dangerous for workers to remain at the facility, AP reports.

About 50 technicians are the only people who currently remain at Fukushima.


Update 6:46: The plan to use helicopters to pour water into one of the reactors that’s emitting radiation has been scrapped.

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman said the “helicopters were deemed impractical, but that other options were under consideration, including fire engines,” according to AP.

A Tokyo Electric Power Co. spokesman said the “helicopters were deemed impractical, but that other options were under consideration, including fire engines,” according to AP.

Update 5:46: Fire breaks out again at reactor #4, according to Reuters, citing NHK.

Update 4:31: Because there isn’t enough wrong with it, Japan says that the roof of reactor #4 is broken.

And now, via Reuters, there are two workers missing.

Update 2:35: The IAEA is out with a new statement, which includes this line:

As of 00:16 UTC on 15 March, plant operators were considering the removal of panels from units 5 and 6 reactor buildings to prevent a possible build-up of hydrogen in the future. It was a build-up of hydrogen at units 1, 2, and 3 that led to explosions at the Daiichi facilities in recent days.

Update 12:09: IAEA’s director general Yukiya Amano: New information about reactor core is “worrying.” That headline is via Bloomberg.

Some other details from a press conference:

  • The suppression chamber at unit #2 appears to be damaged.
  • The cause of the fire at unit #4 is unknown.
  • The Japanese government has been asked to improve its information sharing with the IAEA

Update 10:45: According to Reuters, TEPCO’s new plan is to dump water by helicopter, which sounds incredibly desperate. And some minor good news: All of the TEPCO power plants OTHER than the main one are fine, according to the IAEA.

Update 9:36: To add insult to injury, Japan was just hit with another 6.2 earthquake, and buildings in Tokyo are said to be shaking.

Update 9:14: Another horrible headline from Kyodo Wire: TEPCO unable to pour water into No. 4 reactor’s storage pool for spent fuel

Update 8:35: Via ForexLive, TEPCO is saying that spent fuel rods in reactor #4 are exposed to the air. That sounds horrible.

Update 8:16: The radiation is too high for TEPCO workers to stay in the control room says KYODO WIRE.

Update 7:47 AM: France: The nuclear crisis is now a level-6 crisis on a scale of 7.

Update 7:10 3/15: According to reports, a frustrated Naoto Kan asked TEPCO execs “What the hell is going on?”

This is from Swedish paper





Update 3:40 AM ET 3/15: After a night of terror, there is a brief calm. Radiation has pared back a little bit, and according to government spokesman Yukio Edano there isn’t any indication of new radiation coming out. In fact, via TimeOutTokyo, Edano says the latest readings outside of Fukushima don’t show radiation readings that are harmful to humans.

However (via CNBC) temperatures continue to rise.

Global markets are off their lows a bit, but are all down across the board.

The latest from Kyodo: There are concerns over water levels at reactor #4, which is where there was a fire earlier.

The latest: The state of panic around the world is palpable. There was an explosion at reactor #2 and a fire at reactor #4, coinciding with a surge in radiation. Update: the fire at reactor #4 has been put out.

Markets are diving around Asia. The Nikkei closed down 10.5%!

PM Naoto Kan addressed the nation, and told everyone within a 30KM radius to stay indoors, as radioactive material shoots forth.

50 workers will stay at the plant to pump seawater into three reactors and battle the fire at the fourth, according to the NYT.

KYODO Wire is now reporting that a small amount of radiation has been discovered in Tokyo.

UPDATE 7:21 PM ET MARCH 14: At 6:10 AM Japan time, another blast went off, this time at reactor #2. That’s the third blast from the trouble Fukushima plant.

Following that, a fire was reported at reactor #4

Meanwhile, experts from the IAEA are coming to Japan, and word is that TEPCO has evacuated all non-essential personnel.

According to KYODO Wire, TEPCO is admitting, for the first time, the possibility of a meltdown. It also sounds as though this latest blast was the most serious, as it may have damaged the container, not just outer walls.

The NYT has more details on the blast, and explains why this one may have been different than the other two.

Meanwhile, radiation levels outside Fukushima have spiked.

Update 10:04: President Naoto Kan is addressing the nation on the situation at the plant. He’s urging everyone in the 20KM radius of the plant to leave (which is not actually new).

Via Time Out Tokyo:

  • “We are doing everything we can.”
  • “I would like to ask the nation to remain calm, even though this is an incident of great concern. And with that, I end my message.”

Cabinet Chief Yukio Edano: Now Reactor #4 is on fire.

Digital Globe (via NYT) has some remarkable new satellite images from the damaged plant (note: this doesn’t appear to be from the latest blast).

fukushima japan

Photo: Digital Globe


THE LATEST: Authorities have failed to keep Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2 under water, and it’s now exposed, increasing the threat that radioactive material may enter the air, according to The New York Times.

A prolonged struggle continues to keep reactors 1 and 3 underwater.

The New York Times did not confirm earlier reports that nuclear fuel rods were melting in the reactors.

1:19 PM ET: The nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima power facilities continues, with 3 reactors fuel rods now melting down, according to Sky.

TEPCO has admitted that rods are again exposed at reactor 2.

GE and Toshiba are the companies responsible for the parts going into the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. The reactors, however, are near retirement age, having come online in the mid-seventies.

Read more on the reactor’s history here>


EARLIER ON DAY 4: 11 people were injured in an explosion at Reactor #3, according to the BBC. This was somewhat expected and warned about yesterday. A wall at one of the reactors collapsed.

Meanwhile, according to Kyodo Wire, the cooling function has been lost at a third reactor — reactor #2. TEPCO disagrees, and says that both reactors 1 and 2 are likely safely cooled down, per FT Alphaville.

According to the New York Times, the situation could play out like this for months.

As the scale of Japan‘s nuclear crisis begins to come to light, experts in Japan and the United States say the country is now facing a cascade of accumulating problems that suggest that radioactive releases of steam from the crippled plants could go on for weeks or even months.

Also worrying is news that the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan has been exposed to a radiation cloud off the coast of Japan.

The Japanese safety agency has said that there is “no chance” of a Chernobyl at Fukushima, according to Sky News.

Here’s video of this morning’s explosion:


We’re now well into day three of the crisis at the Fukushima power plant.

Below the line our coverage of day two, and below that is our coverage of day one.

The latest is that all eyes have turned to reactor #3. Originally reactor #1 was the concern, but at least the official word is that it’s somewhat under control. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has suggested that there are issues getting adequate water into the reactor to cool the rods. It’s possible, however, that there’s a problem with the water gauge. This is unclear. A partial meltdown is possible.

There have also been warnings of a second explosion, similar to the one on Saturday afternoon, as pressure builds up inside reactor #3.

Update 8:55 AM ET: According to Reuters, there is a third reactor, in which authorities are using seawater for coolant.

Update 9:38: There’s a low level “emergency” at a new power plant — the Onagawa plant — according to the IAEA, and France is warning its citizens to get out of Tokyo, thanks to fears of radiation..

Update 12:24: The cooling system has reportedly stopped at yet another plant, the Tokay No. 2 plant, which is in Japan’s Ibaraki prefecture. This would make the third plant that has seen issues. Fukushima, Onagawana, and now this.

Update 4:31: World Nuclear News has a good update on the situation, which is still very tense, but there appears to be some optimism and relief that things have stabilised at the closely watched reactor #3.


Day 2:

There was an explosion at the plant at around 3:30 in the afternoon in Japan, and at least 4 are injured. Massive plumes of smoke can be seen. More recently, Japan has flooded the main Fukushima reactor with seawater in a last-ditch attempt to avert a full meltdown.

According to Russia Today, there have been 50K evacuated in the vicinity. Beyond that, the roof of one reactor apparently collapsed.

People in a wide vicinity have been told to cover their mouths as much as possible.

Update 5:10 AM: CNN is reporting that the evacuation zone has been expanded to 20KM around the plant.

Just outside the 20KM radius, notes CNN, is the city of Minamisoma, population 72K.

Update 8:06 AM: Kyodo has a long article explaining the latest, and at this moment there may still be reasons to be hopeful, specifically noting that the explosion is at the plant, near the reactor, but not inside vulnerable reactor #1.

The NYT also has a good technical explanation of what’s going on, including this hopeful sounding note:

Naoto Sekimura, a professor at Tokyo University, told NHK, Japan’s public broadcaster, that “only a small portion of the fuel has been melted. But the plant is shut down already, and being cooled down. Most of the fuel is contained in the plant case, so I would like to ask people to be calm.”

Meanwhile, large aftershocks continue to rock the area.

See here for satellite photos of the damage.

Update 3:11 PM: It’s been a while since any official ‘progress report’ on the plant, however this report from the FT is encouraging, noting that enough seawater has been pumped into the plant to the point that it’s not “dangerously low.”

Update 3:59: The first news in a while, and it’s not good. Two quick flashes from Reuters, one citing Japanese officials saying the cooling system at reactor #3 is NOT working, and another saying that 140K have now been evacuated from the Region.

Update 4:53: Now Reuters says two American nuclear power experts are headed to Japan. This doesn’t sound a stable situation.

Update 5:10: Reminder, you can watch English-language coverage LIVE from NHK here.

They’re discussing the use of seawater to cool the plant.


Photo: NHK

Update 5:56: There’s a new headline from Kyodo Wire “6th reactor at Fukushima nuke plant loses cooling functions.” It’s not clear if this a new reactor than the latest one previously reported to have lost cooling function.

yukio edano

Photo: NHK

Update 6:12: Japanese minister Yukio Edano giving a press conference on the nuke situation right now. Watch here at NHK.

  • No change to radiation readings outside the plant.
  • Coolant problems continue at reactor #3 (already known).
  • Minimal amount of radioactive vapor being released.
  • 9 people have been bussed out of the region with some exposure. 4 have had a high level.
  • On reactor #3: Venting out air.

Q&A time:

Will the number of people exposed continue to grow from 9?

Edano: No, the exposure was related to yesterday’s release.

Press conference over.

Bottom line: At reactor #1, seawater has been injected and rods are underwater. Similar situation at reactor #3.

9:09 PM ET: The reactor has been flooded with seawater to avert a full meltdown. Officials are trying to figure out whether they can also flood #3. The New York Times describes these as extraordinary measures that will likely permanently disable the reactors. There is evidence that a partial meltdown has already occurred.

EARLIER: This video, via Gabe Rivera, shows the moment the explosion happened at the 1:22 second mark.


 Note: This post has several updates. Scroll to the bottom for the latest. The original post was at approximately 4:30 AM on March 11.

Original post: Ominous flash from Kyodo Wire:

The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reported an abnormality Friday following a powerful earthquake which hit a wide area in northeastern Japan including Fukushima Prefecture, the industry ministry said.

The system to cool reactor cores in case of emergency stopped at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., it said.

There are reports that the Japanese PM will declare a nuclear emergency.

Update: There’s no evidence of any radioactive leakage, but officials have confirmed that the cooling process for the nuclear plant has not yet gone according to plan.

Update 2: Japan has declared a nuclear emergency.

Update 3: 2000 residents near the Fukushima Nuclear Plant have been urged to evacuate.

Update 4: According to reports, Japanese jets have been ordered to fly over the Fukushima Nuclear plant

Update 5: According to Reuters, a Dam has broken in the same region as the at-risk nuclear power plant.

Update 6: The owner of the plant, TEPCO, says the reactor pressure is rising, and there are risks of a radiation leak, according to Reuters.

Update 7: Now the trade minister says a leak is possible.

Update 8: Word is, Japanese authorities will release a small amount of radioactive vapor into the air to ease pressure.

Update 9: Japan just expanded the evacuation range from 3 KM to 9 KM, says Reuters.

Update: 4:29 PM ET: Anti-nuclear expert Kevin Kamp explains the nightmare scenario in Fukushma, via Forbes and the Institute for Public Accuracy:

“The electrical grid is down. The emergency diesel generators have been damaged. The multi-reactor Fukushima atomic power plant is now relying on battery power, which will only last around eight hours. The danger is, the very thermally hot reactor cores at the plant must be continuously cooled for 24 to 48 hours. Without any electricity, the pumps won’t be able to pump water through the hot reactor cores to cool them. Once electricity is lost, the irradiated nuclear fuel could begin to melt down. If the containment systems fail, a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment could occur.

“In addition to the reactor cores, the storage pool for highly radioactive irradiated nuclear fuel is also at risk. The pool cooling water must be continuously circulated. Without circulation, the still thermally hot irradiated nuclear fuel in the storage pools will begin to boil off the cooling water. Within a day or two, the pool’s water could completely boil away. Without cooling water, the irradiated nuclear fuel could spontaneously combust in an exothermic reaction. Since the storage pools are not located within containment, a catastrophic radioactivity release to the environment could occur. Up to 100 per cent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances. Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.”

Meanwhile, Kyodo is reporting that local radiation levels are 8 times more than normal.

Update 4:43 PM: Now according to Kyodo, radiation is measured at 1000x normal.

Update 5:05: The entire world is now watching the Fukushima plant. Here’s a link to a satellite image of the plant, just to get some more perspective on where this is.





Update 5:33: Both reactors at the plant have been damaged, and officials say they have “lost control” of the pressure, according to Reuters.

Update 7:39: The latest from Kyodo Wire: Government holds emergency meeting on the plant, and is taking unprecedented step of demanding the plant open a key valve.

Update 7:51: At least 20,000 people are being evacuated from the region says Reuters, which ominously quotes an expert who thinks there may be just a few hours until meltdown.

Update 3/12 12:19 AM: This just came from Reuters on twitter… REUTERS FLASH: #Japan nuclear authorities say high possibility of meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi No. 1 reactor – Jiji

Update 3/12 12:26: Now a headline from Kyodo Wire: Fukushima nuke plant might be experiencing nuclear meltdown. From AP via Steve Herman: A meltdown would potentially put humans at risk within a 6 KM range. What is a nuclear meltdown? Wikipedia has a good primer. WSJ: Authorities pouring water into reactor to “stop the meltdown.”

Update 3/12 2/21: First positive headline in a while from Kyodo: Pressure successfully released from Fukushima No. 1 reactor.

Saturday 3:50 ET: There’s been a large explosion at the nuclear plant and the outer wall has been destroyed, according to Reuters.

Update 3:59: Massive clouds seen after Fukushima explosion. Reports of at least 4 injured.

Click here for dramatic pictures of the disaster >

Fukushima nuclear

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