Developments in Japan's disasters, nuclear crisis

AP News
Posted: Mar 20, 2011 2:24 PM
Developments in Japan's disasters, nuclear crisis

_ REACTOR PRESSURE THREATENS NEW VENTING. An unexpected rise in pressure inside the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's leaking Unit 3 reactor forces operators to consider relieving pressure by releasing radioactive steam. The same dangerous tactic produced explosions in the early days of the crisis. The plan is suspended later Sunday after the plant's operator said the reactor had stabilized. The option is still possible if pressure rises anew.

_ PROGRESS IN COOLING, RESTORING POWER TO OTHER REACTORS. Reactor Units 5 and 6 at the power plant were brought under control after days of pumping water into their fuel storage pools cooled temperatures to acceptable levels. Progress also was reported in reconnecting those units and two others to the electrical grid.

_ NO FUTURE FOR PLANT. The government says the entire Fukushima Dai-ichi complex would be scrapped once the emergency is resolved.

_ SURVIVORS FOUND. An 80-year-old woman and her teenage grandson are rescued in northeastern Japan when the youth is able to pull himself out of their flattened two-story house nine days after the earthquake and tsunami. Both are conscious but weak, having survived on the food they had in their refrigerator.

_ DEATH TOLL RISES TO MORE THAN 8,000. Police say 8,450 people have died and 12,931 are missing from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The death toll has been steadily rising as searchers find bodies from the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami. At the same time, the number of missing has risen as survivors and relatives come to terms with the twin disasters and contact police regarding loved ones who remain unaccounted for.

_ OFFICIAL: IODINE PILLS SHOULD HAVE BEEN DISTRIBUTED EARLIER. A Japanese nuclear safety official says the government was caught off-guard by the disaster and only belatedly realized the need to give potassium iodide to those living within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the Fukushima plant. The pills help reduce the chances of thyroid cancer, one of the diseases that may develop from radiation exposure. The official, Kazuma Yokota, says a March 14 explosion at the plant's Unit 3 reactor should have triggered the distribution but the order did not come until two days later.

_ TAIWAN FINDS RADIATION ON IMPORTED JAPANESE BEANS. Taiwanese officials say radiation has been detected on fava beans imported from Japan, although the amount is too small to harm human health. It's the first case of radiation found on Japanese imports amid the nuclear crisis.

_ JAPAN TRIES TO EASE FEARS ON FOOD CONTAMINATION. The government halts sales of spinach from one area and raw milk from another near the Fukushima complex after tests showed iodine radiation exceeding safety limits. Contamination spreads to spinach in three other prefectures and to the vegetables canola and chrysanthemum greens. Officials advise the village of Iitate near the plant not to drink tap water because of elevated iodine levels, but stress the amounts pose no health threat. Tokyo's tap water, found to have iodine, now has cesium too.

_ TOKYO POWER COMPANY WORKING TO EASE BLACKOUTS. Tokyo Electric Power Co., the owner of the Fukushima complex, says it will try to ease power shortages in Tokyo by restarting a gas-fired generating station that was shut down after the quake. Damage to both nuclear and conventional generators has forced the utility to impose rolling blackouts on densely populated Tokyo, which produces 40 percent of Japan's economic output.

_ EVACUATED U.S. MILITARY FAMILIES ARRIVE HOME. Nearly 240 U.S. military family members fleeing Japan in voluntary repatriation arrive at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. They're the first of what is expected to be thousands of military personnel and their families leaving mainly over concerns about radiation.