Preparing For A "Chernobyl Solution" - Updated Fukushima Status Summary And Timeline

Presenting an updated Fukushima status update and timeline in which we read for the first time that Fukushima has considered a "Chernobyl Solution" - alas that leads us to believe that there is good reason to assume that the information-starved situation is just as bad as Chernobyl.

Key events since last update in bold

  • Officials remain committed to cooling down overheated nuclear fuel rods and keep spraying reactor No.3 at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant. But the plant's operator, Tokyo electric Power Co., says encasing reactors in concrete may prove the only way to prevent a catastrophic radiation leak, the method used at Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.

  • Electricity could be restored on Saturday morning to reactors 1 and 2, the nuclear safety agency said, which would restart pumps needed to pour cold water on the fuel rods. Priority is to get water into spent fuel pools, particularly in reactor No. 3, which contains plutonium.

  • he agency also raised the incident level at the striken power plant to a 5 on a 1-7 scale. That would suggest a level of seriousness on par with the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the United States in 1979. But it said there was no need to expand the evacuation area beyond 30 km at this point.

  • The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, says it could take weeks to cool the reactors.

  • G7 industrialised countries agreed, after a teleconference of finance ministers, on concerted intervention, the first since 2000, to restrain the yen, hoping to calm global markets.

And updated timeline:


17:53 - Electricity could be restored on Saturday morning at the No.1 and No.2 reactors, the country's nuclear safety agency said on Friday. The agency also raised the incident level at reactors No.1, No.2, and No.3 at the Daiichi plant to level 5 from level 4.

10:04 - Japan's nuclear safety agency said it was aware of the ultimate "Chernobyl solution" to contain the nuclear disaster at the quake-hit plant by covering it in sand and encasing it in concrete, but added that it was currently focusing on efforts to restore power and cool down the reactors.

09:20 - White smoke or steam was rising from reactors 2, 3 and 4, the nuclear safety agency said on Friday. It said it believed there was still water in the spent fuel pool at reactor No.3.


21:39 - Japan's nuclear safety agency said a pool for cooling spent nuclear fuel at the No.4 reactor of the stricken plant remains a serious concern.

21:07 - TEPCO said it had started work to connect outside power cables to the plant and that electricity could be connected on Thursday.

17:37 - Three of the six reactors at the earthquake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan are now relatively stable, officials say.

17:20 - Low concentrations of radioactive particles are heading eastwards from the plant towards North America, a Swedish official says. The official at the Swedish Defence Research Institute, a government agency, was citing data from international monitoring stations. Levels were not dangerous for people, he says.

16:27 - An unexpected, large-scale power outage is possible in Tokyo and surrounding areas on Thursday evening if power demand exceeds this morning's, Japan's trade minister says.

12:59 - U.S. State Department authorises voluntary departure from Japan of family members of diplomatic staff.

11:24 - TEPCO says pressure is rising again at reactor No. 3. It says there was still water in its spent-fuel pool. On Wednesday, the company described the situation there as "not so good." The U.S. Nuclear Regulator Commission said on Wednesday there was no water in the pool.

Company officials express hope of getting limited power to the plant to help pump water but not yet for reactors 3 and 4.

10:30 - Kyodo news agency says the United States will fly a high-altitude drone equipped with infrared sensors over the plant to help determine what is happening inside.

09:55 - Australia issues new appeal to nationals in Tokyo and eight other prefectures to consider leaving Japan.

08:38 - A Japanese military helicopter begins spraying water on the plant, the Defence Agency is quoted as saying. Officials later say two of four water drops hit their mark.

07:43 - Japan's weather agency said winds near the plant are forecast to blow from the northwest on Thursday towards the Pacific Ocean.

06:06 - The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says radiation levels at the Fukushima plant had fallen over the past 24 hours. A reading of 338 microsieverts per hour was recorded at the main gate at 05:00 against 752 12 hours earlier.

The government appeals to private companies to deliver supplies to quake victims.

02:58 - Britain advises its citizens in Japan to consider leaving Tokyo and the area north of the capital.


21:48 - Japan wants to use its military to help pump water to the No.3 reactor and into a spent-fuel pool at the No.4 reactor of a quake-stricken nuclear plant, the nation's nuclear safety agency says.

Radiation levels at a monitoring post outside the Fukushima Daiichi plant had spiked at 0330 GMT to 10,850 microsieverts per hour, but fell back later to 2,331 microsieverts an hour later, it says.

21:01 - Major damage is unlikely to have been sustained at the No.3 reactor of Japan's quake-stricken nuclear power plant, Kyodo reports, quoting the government.

19:53 - Japanese police will attempt to cool the spent nuclear fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant using a water cannon truck as early as Wednesday night, NHK television says.

19:47 - No radioactive iodine or cesium was found in the tap water of Japan's Fukushima prefecture, Kyodo news agency reports, quoting the local government.

18:29 - Water is being poured into reactors No.5 and No.6 at Fukushima's Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operating company says.

18:14 - A helicopter was unable to drop water to cool a quake-stricken reactor in northeastern Japan probably because of the high radiation, Kyodo news agency says, quoting the defence minister.

18:00 - Japan's top government spokesman says radiation levels around the nuclear plant are not at levels to cause an immediate health risk.

17:32 - The World Health Organisation's representative in China says there is no evidence of any significant international spread of radiation from the nuclear site.

17:26 - The operator of Japan's quake-stricken nuclear power complex, Tokyo Electric Power Co Ltd , says it is unable to resume work on cooling reactors due to radiation risk.

16:55 - Operator says as of 0230 GMT there were 180 workers on site at the damaged nuclear power complex.

16:55 - Tokyo Electric Power Co says it recorded the site's highest levels of radiation at the No.3 reactor on Wednesday.

16:05 - The temperature stabilised and pressure dropped at the No. 2 reactor, the plant operator said.

13:27 - Japan's nuclear safety agency says operators of the damaged nuclear plant plan to bulldoze an emergency route to the facility to allow access for fire trucks.

11:38 - Japan may seek direct U.S. military help to end the crisis at the plant, the chief government spokesman says.

11:30 - It is not realistic to think that the No. 4 reactor at the plant will "reach criticality", the chief government spokesman says.

11:19 - The radiation reading at the main gate of the plant rose sharply just after 0100 GMT on Friday and started to fall almost an hour later, the government says.

11:10 - A fuel pool at the No.3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi plant may have heated and produced steam, TEPCO says. Media images earlier showed white smoke drifting from the plant.

11:38 - Japan may seek direct U.S. military help to end the crisis at the plant, the chief government spokesman says.