7:07 AM ET: Power has been connected to all the reactors now. Of course, that still means there’s plenty of work to do to get pumps actually working.
05:12 ET: Water covering the spent fuel rods at reactor #4 is heating up and is close to boiling, Nuclear safety agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama tells the AP. We could see more emissions and a rise in radiation.
04:35 ET March 22: According to Kyodo, work has resumed after Tuesday morning’s work stoppage. No huge updates however.
20:59 March 21: Some more distressing report out of Kyodo. White haze is seen coming from the plant, and work has stalled again. Both reactors #2 and #3 appear to be having problems.
Photo: wikimedia commons
EARLIER: Radioactivity fears are growing, with evidence of contamination in milk, vegetables and fish. High quantities of radioactive cesium and iodine were detected in nearby seawater, according to Kyodo.
At least cooling operations are making some progress.
Concrete is being poured into the dangerous spent fuel rod pool at reactor #4. The Japanese government says power may be turned on soon. Work to restore power to #3 and #4 was temporarily halted when certain reactors began emitting black smoke. Seawater is being pumped into reactors #1 and #2.
[Read a detailed timeline below.]
13:04 ET: Radioactive cesium 24.8 times above the limit was found in nearby seawater, according to Kyoto. Radioactive iodine 126.7 times above the limit was detected.
TEPCO says it is too early to assess the impact on fishery products.
9:54 ET: Police estimates put the quake death toll over 18,000.
A good map of power outages after the quake, from NASA. Power outages in red:
9:08: Concete is reportedly being poured into the very dicey spent fuel pool at reactor #4, with the hope of sealing off the radiation permanently there.
8:37 ET: Smoke has stopped billowing from reactor #3.
Photo: Daily Yomiuri
7:44 AM March 21 ET: Some possible good news from reactor #4 — home of the potentially dried out spent fuel rods. According to Reuters, the Japanese government says power will be back soon.6:08 AM March 21 ET: Now there are reports of smoke from reactor #2.
4:20 AM March 21 ET: The general sense throughout Sunday has been that the corner is being turned. And that’s still the sense, somewhat. However, the latest headlines from Kyodo are less encouraging. Smoke is “billowing” from reactor #3, and some workers have at least been (temporarily) been evacuated. However there other headlines about pumps working at the plant, which is obviously quite good news.
SUNDAY: 9:36 ET March 20: A series of hopeful news announced by the Nuclear Industrial & Safety Agency (via VOA’s Steve Herman).
Reactors 5 & 6 reached cold shutdown today. Pressure is under control at reactor 3, and there is no need for more radioactive venting at the moment. They are attaching a power line to reactor 4, and the fuel rods are being cooled by external water spray. Seawater is being pumped into reactors 1 and 2.
Deputy chief cabinet secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said reactors 1-4 are “showing signs of improvement.” He also said he would feed his kids spinach and water from the area — and that they don’t drink milk anyway, according to VOA.
As a show of faith, Prime Minister Kan will visit within 20 kilometers of the plant tomorrow, according to Kyoto.
LAST NIGHT: Japan Times: trace amounts of radiation detected in Tokyo tap water.
Update 20:20 ET: Some video has been released which has a great, on-the-ground look at the firefighting operation.
Update 17:43 ET: Power has been reconnected to reactor 6 and reactor 3 is being showered with water at all times, according to CNN.
Update 17:00 ET: TEPCO will have power reconnected to the other 5 reactors at Fukushima by Sunday, according to CNN.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, is reporting that only reactors 1 and 2 will be reconnected tomorrow, and that their cooling systems will be back online.
In either case, definitely good news.
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.
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