Developments in Japan's disasters, nuclear crisis

AP News
Posted: Mar 21, 2011 5:48 PM
Developments in Japan's disasters, nuclear crisis

_ CONTAINMENT AT 3 REACTORS INTACT. U.S. regulators say although reactors at units 1, 2 and 3 have seen damage to their cores, their containment structures are holding. Still, smoke rose from two of the units Monday, and emergency workers trying to cool the reactors and reconnect power lines were forced to pull out. Officials at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have been battling to bring the reactors and spent fuel pools under control since the complex was damaged in the quake and tsunami.

_ RADIATION FOUND IN SOME FOOD, WATER. Water and vegetables have been contaminated by trace amounts of radiation, though the government says not at levels that are dangerous to human health. Still, it has banned the sale of raw milk, spinach and canola from some areas, while the World Health Organization calls on Japan to do more to reassure the public about food safety. Residents of one village are advised not to drink the tap water after elevated levels of iodine were found. Tokyo Electric says iodine and cesium above normal levels also were detected in seawater near the nuclear plant, but a senior International Atomic Energy Agency official says the ocean is capable of absorbing vast amount of radiation with no effect.

_ NUCLEAR CHIEF SAYS CRISIS EXPOSED WEAKNESSES. The head of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, says an update to nuclear safety standards should be considered. But he defended the agency's actions in the current crisis and gave no clear answer on whether he though the IAEA standards should be mandatory.

_ WORLD BANK SAYS RECONSTRUCTION MAY TAKE 5 YEARS. The World Bank says Japan may need five years to rebuild from the earthquake and tsunami, which have caused up to $235 billion in damage. The disaster will likely shave up to 0.5 percentage point from the country's economic growth this year, the bank says in a report, adding that the impact will be concentrated in the first half of the year. The bank cites damage estimates between $123 billion and $235 billion, and cost to private insurers of between $14 billion and $33 billion. It says the government will spend $12 billion on reconstruction in the current national budget and "much more" in the next one.

_ NISSAN TO RESTART MORE AUTO, PARTS PLANTS IN JAPAN. Nissan plans to resume auto and parts production at more Japanese factories this week, but it may be several months before inventories and other elements of the country's auto industry return to normal. The automaker says it will resume production of parts at five plants Monday. It then plans to resume vehicle production Thursday as long as supplies last. Most of Japan's auto industry shut down after the March 11 disaster. The industry still faces rolling blackouts and infrastructure problems that may hamper it until mid- or late summer. Nissan says the restarted plants will not be at full production.