Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2011 8:24 PM
Snapshot: Japan's nuclear crisis

TOKYO (Reuters) - Following are main developments after a massive earthquake and tsunami devastated northeast Japan and crippled a nuclear power station, raising the risk of an uncontrolled radiation leak.

* Japan warns it could take months to stop radiation leaking from the nuclear plant.

* The majority of voters polled by a newspaper say a coalition would better handle the crisis and post-quake recovery effort.

* An aide to embattled Prime Minister Naoto Kan says the government's priority is to stop radiation leaks which were scaring the public and hindering work on cooling overheated nuclear fuel rods.

- 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.

- Radiation levels in the sea nearby stand at 4,000 times the legal limit.

* Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) says it found a crack in a concrete pit at its No.2 reactor in the Fukushima Daiichi complex at the weekend, generating readings of 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour in the air inside.

* TEPCO has said it will scrap at least four reactors once they are under control, but this could take years or even decades.

- Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the evacuation of residents near the plant will be a "long-term" operation.

- A U.N. watchdog has suggested widening of the exclusion zone around the station after radiation measured at a village 40 km distant exceeded a criterion for evacuation.

- 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 are confirmed dead by Japan's National Police Agency, while 15,552 are missing. A total of 167,700 households are 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.

(Tokyo bureau; Compiled by World Desk Asia)