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LUDINGTON DAILY NEWS

| TUESDAY, MARCH 15, 2011

www.ludingtondailynews.com

Radiation level soars after Japan nuke plant fire BY ERIC TALMADGE AND SHINO YUASA ASSOCIATED PRESS SOMA, Japan (AP) — Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami. In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan’s northeastern coast. The region was shattered by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, plunged millions into misery and pummeled the world’s third-largest economy. Japanese officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency that the reactor fire was in a fuel storage pond — an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool — and that “radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere.� Long after the fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the pool might

still be boiling, though the reported levels of radiation had dropped dramatically by the end of the day. That reactor, Unit 4, had been shut down before the quake for maintenance. If the water boils, it could evaporate, exposing the rods. The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said. But they acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers. They also confirmed that the walls of the storage pool building were damaged. Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water. It had not been emitted directly by fuel rods, which would be far more virulent, they said. “It’s not good, but I don’t think it’s a disaster,� said Steve Crossley, an Australiabased radiation physicist. Even the highest detected rates were not automatically harmful for brief periods, he said. “If you were to spend a significant amount of time — in the order of hours — that could be significant,� Crossley said. Less clear were the results

WALLY SANTANA | AP PHOTO

An evacuee is screened for radiation exposure at a testing center today in Koriyama city, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, after a nuclear power plant on the coast of the prefecture was damaged by Friday’s earthquake. of the blast in Unit 2, near a suppression pool, which removes heat under a reactor vessel, said plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. The nuclear core was not damaged but the bottom of the surrounding container may have been, said Shigekazu Omukai, a spokesman for Japan’s nuclear safety agency. Though Kan and other officials urged calm, Tuesday’s developments fueled a growing panic in Japan and around the world amid widespread uncertainty over what would

happen next. In the worst case scenario, one or more of the reactor cores would completely melt down, a disaster that could spew large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere. The radiation fears added to the catastrophe that has been unfolding in Japan, where at least 10,000 people are believed to have been killed and millions of people were facing a fifth night with little food, water or heating in near-freezing temperatures and snow as they dealt with the loss of

are worrying if there is prolonged exposure, they are far from fatal. Tokyo reported slightly elevated radiation levels, but officials said the increase was too small to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) away. Amid concerns about radiation, Austria moved its embassy from Tokyo to Osaka. Meanwhile, Air China and China Eastern Airlines canceled flights to Tokyo and two cities in the disaster area. Germany’s Lufthansa airlines is also diverting its two daily flights to Tokyo to other Japanese cities. None mentioned radiation concerns, instead giving no explanation or citing the airports’ limited capacities. Closer to the stricken nuclear complex, the streets in the coastal city of Soma were empty as the few residents who remained there heeded the government’s warning to stay indoors. Kan and other officials warned there is a danger of more leaks and told people living within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the Fukushima Daiichi complex to stay indoors to avoid exposure that could make people sick.

homes and loved ones. Up to 450,000 people are in temporary shelters. Officials have only been able to confirm a far lower toll — about 3,300 killed — but those who were involved in the 2004 Asian tsunami said there was no question more people died and warned that, like the earlier disaster, many thousands may never be found. In a rare bit of good news, rescuers found two survivors Tuesday in the rubble left by the tsunami that hit the northeast, including a 70-year-old woman whose house was tossed off its foundation. The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, along that battered coastline, has been the focus of the worries. Workers there have been desperately trying to use seawater to cool the fuel rods in the complex’s three reactors, all of which lost their cooling ability after Friday’s quake and tsunami. On Tuesday, the complex was hit by its third explosion since Friday, and then a fire in a separate reactor. Afterward, officials in Ibaraki, a neighboring prefecture just south of the area, said up to 100 times the normal levels of radiation were detected Tuesday. While those figures

FRANZ: Protesters expected

Snapshots

the provisions about notification of financial problems were more important in serving as a precaution short of taking the final step of installing an emergency manager. “That’s the real key,� he said of those overlooked initial steps. He supported the legislation.

FROM PAGE A1

A couple walks Monday along the barrier breakwater, which protects the boat launch at Loomis Street. The two were taking pictures of the lighthouse and harbor.

competitively bidding noninstructional areas including transportation, food service and janitorial services, and freeze step changes raises, Franz said he has met with two groups of public school superintendents meeting at intermediate school districts. “They need these tools,� he said. He cited disappointment that reforms in the Act 72 emergency manager legislation for communities and school districts that run into serious financial difficulties concentrated on the emergency manager provision that he said was the last step of the process, but ignored the five precautionary steps leading up to installing an emergency manager. Franz said he thought

JEFF KIESSEL | DAILY NEWS

DARR ROAD: Completion expected July 30

With more protesters expected in Lansing today — AARP being one of the groups scheduling protests today — Franz said the House will continue its work on the budget. “The consensus was that we have to take a harder look at Gov. Snyder’s proposals. Everything is on the table,� Franz said. sbegnoche@ludingtondailynews.com 843-1122, x326

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Dittmer said the bridge work should be completed by July 30.

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FROM PAGE A1

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Three projects dating back to June 2008 flooding could be built this summer. The road commission is meeting with the Michigan Department of Transportation today for a grade inspection meeting on the projects that include Stiles Road at Sugar Grove, Sugar Grove Road at Custer Road and Fountain Road near Peterson Road. All three would be culvert replacement jobs and the road commission would do the work itself rather than hiring contractors. “I anticipate we will probably begin work on (Stiles Road) right after Memorial Day,� Dit-

PROTESTS

BRIAN MULHERIN | DAILY NEWS

The Sable River comes in from the east under the Darr Road Bridge. The bridge will be rebuilt this summer, with a projected completion date of July 30. tmer said. “It’ll probably take about two weeks.� Culverts under both Stiles Road and Sugar Grover Road would be replaced and repositioned to allow water to flow straighter under the intersection, hopefully solv-

ing long-standing issues with sinkholes at the intersection, Dittmer said. Work on the other culverts should follow the Stiles Road work. Cost for the projects would be partially paid by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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