Fukushima Snapshot Update
Read about all the latest developments in the fiasco that keeps getting worse, more improvised, and more out of control by the day.
- Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) began to release more than 10,000 tonnes of contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea to free up storage space for water with much higher levels of radioactivity.
- Engineers also plan to build a giant silt curtain in the ocean to stop the spread of more contamination from the plant.
- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says that if the current situation continues for a long time, with accumulation of more radioactive substances, there will be "a huge impact on the ocean."
- Edano also says there was no other choice but to release the water, which was about 100 times more radioactive than legal limits.
- Japan warns it could take months to stop radiation leaking from the nuclear plant.
- Engineers mixed sawdust and newspapers with polymers and cement to try to seal a crack in a concrete pit at the complex's reactor no.2, where radioactive water has been seeping into the sea.
- The majority of voters polled by a newspaper say a coalition government would better handle the crisis and post-quake recovery effort.
- A central bank survey, underlining the concern over the impact of the crisis, shows that big manufacturers expect business conditions to worsen significantly in the next three months, though they were not quite as pessimistic as some analysts had expected.
- Engineers examine alternatives to pumping in water to cool the reactor, including an improvised air conditioning system, spraying fuel rods with vaporised water or using the plant's cleaning system.
- TEPCO has said it will scrap at least four reactors once they are under control, but this could take years or even decades.
- Japanese manufacturing activity slumped to a two-year low in March and posted the sharpest monthly fall on record as the quake and tsunami hit supply chains and output.
- A total of 12,087 people were confirmed dead by Japan's National Police Agency, while 15,552 are missing. A total of 167,700 households were without electricity and at least 200,000 without running water.
- Estimated cost of damage to top $300 billion, making it the world's costliest natural disaster. The 1995 Kobe quake cost $100 billion while Hurricane Katrina in 2005 caused $81 billion in damage.
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