Tag Archives: Potassium Iodide

Discover the radiation protective benefits of Spirulina and Chlorella

Discover the radiation protective benefits of Spirulina and Chlorella

Monday, March 21, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Protecting yourself in the event of a serious radiation event involves much more than simply loading up on potassium iodide and various other iodine supplements. While high levels of iodine do protect the thyroid and glandular systems from radiation poisoning, they do not necessarily protect the rest of your body from the devastating and deadly effects of nuclear radiation. However, two amazing superfoods — Spirulina and Chlorella — offer substantiated protection against harmful radiation. They also help to detoxify the body of harmful radiation after exposure, effectively protecting organs and other areas not protected by iodine.

Spirulina, the incredible medical food used to treat child victims of Chernobyl
The numerous curative and health-promoting properties of Spirulina are truly amazing. This blue-green algae superfood is rich in vitamins, minerals, trace minerals, and antioxidants, all of which make it highly beneficial as an anti-aging, anti-cancer, and super-detoxifying miracle food (http://www.naturalnews.com/spirulin…).

But little known is the incredible radioprotective power of Spirulina. Numerous studies have found that Spirulina protects the body against — and even heals it from — the damaging effects of harmful radiation.

A 1989 study put forth by researchers from Zhongkai Agriculture and Technology College in China found in tests that Spirulina significantly reduces the gamma radiation-induced micronucleus frequencies in the bone marrow of affected mice. Bone marrow, of course, is responsible for producing new blood cells and maintaining the lymphatic system (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…).

A 1993 report published by the Research Institute of Radiation Medicine in Belarus confirmed previous research conducted in 1990-91 which found that Spirulina effectively decreases the radioactive load received by the body when consuming radiation-contaminated food. After just 20 days, children fed five-gram doses of Spirulina every day experienced an average 50 percent reduction in urine radioactivity levels (http://www.iimsam.org/publications_…).

In a study released by Mechnikov Odessa State University in Ukraine in 2000, Spirulina proved effective at increasing phosphate, pyruvate, and antioxidant levels in rats with lesions caused by 5 gray units (Gy) of high-energy radiation. Full-body exposure to 5 Gy or more typically leads to death within 14 days, but Spirulina helped to prevent this (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…).

A 2001 study conducted by researchers from the Medical and Pharmaceutical Academe of Yangzhou University in China found that Spirulina extracts effectively protect against both the damage caused by chemotherapy drugs and the damaging effects of gamma radiation exposure (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…).

Those negatively affected by high levels of radiation after working on cleanup efforts following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster experienced improvements in the autoregulatory functionality of their bodily organs and other systems, as well as long-term remission from overall radiation damage, after being treated with a regimen that included Spirulina (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…).

Spirulina works so well at mitigating the damage caused by radiation that it was actually awarded a Russian patent in 1995 for improving the immunity of children affected by radiation from the Chernobyl disaster. Many exposed children became stricken with chronic radiation sickness and elevated Immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels, and they also tested positive for high allergy sensitivity. But upon consuming roughly five grams (g) of Spirulina a day for 45 days, the children’s IgE levels and allergic sensitivities were restored back to normal.

Conclusively, Spirulina offers remarkable radioprotective benefits in addition to its many other health-promoting benefits. Regular consumption of Spirulina not only helps to boost immune function and normalize the systems in the body that regulate and maintain overall health, but the superfood also offers a surefire way to mitigate the damaging effects of harmful radiation (http://jpronline.info/article/viewF…).

Chlorella, the detoxifying superfood with amazing radioprotective benefits
Much like Spirulina, Chlorella is loaded with an astounding array vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that help detoxify the body of heavy metals and other contaminants. The single-cell algae also helps to prevent and repair DNA damage, balance the body’s pH levels, fight inflammation, improve digestive health, and boost immune function (http://www.naturalnews.com/027894_c…).

And as far as harmful radiation is concerned, Chlorella is a powerful weapon to both prevent radioactive damage and heal it once it has occurred.

A 1989 study put forth by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences demonstrated that Chlorella effectively increases production of bone marrow and spleen stem cells. And in tests, Chlorella greatly helped improve survival rates among mice irradiated with a lethal dose of radioactive gamma rays (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…).

In 1993, researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru University in India also found that Chlorella is effective at protecting against and mitigating the damage caused by both acute and chronic radioactive damage (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…).

A 1995 study published in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology found that when administered before or upon exposure to sub-lethal radioactive gamma rays, Chlorella helps to boost levels of colony-forming spleen cells. Such cells exist within the bone marrow and are essential for the production of vital blood elements and immune factors (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/…).

Ultimately, the incredible detoxifying power of Chlorella is not limited to toxins like mercury, aluminum, and fluoride. Just like it does to toxic heavy metals, Chlorella binds to radioactive particles and literally flushes them out of the body. In complete synergy with its many other health-promoting functions, Chlorella is a vital superfood nutrient that numerous scientific studies have proven helps to guard the body against radioactive damage (http://www.naturalnews.com/027361_c…).

Both Spirulina and Chlorella are absolutely essential weapons in any natural radioprotective arsenal. Together, these powerful sea-based nutrients help to rid the body of radiation and the many other toxins that cause both acute and chronic damage to the body.

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/031779_spirulina_radiation.html#ixzz1IgoMwzAz

World expresses growing alarm over radiation – Cloud to hit US mainland on Friday

Scientists Project Path of Radiation Plume

Published: March 16, 2011

A United Nations forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume coming from crippled Japanese reactors shows it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting Southern California late Friday.

U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High;’ Sees Japan Nuclear Crisis Worsening (March 17, 2011)
U.S. Urges Wider No-Go Area Around Nuclear Plant (March 17, 2011)
In Europe and China, Japan’s Crisis Renews Fears About Nuclear Power (March 17, 2011)
The Lede Blog: Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: How to Help (March 11, 2011)

Health and nuclear experts emphasize that radiation in the plume will be diluted as it travels and, at worst, would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States, even if hints of it are ultimately detectable. In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the West Coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule.

The projection, by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, an arm of the United Nations in Vienna, gives no information about actual radiation levels but only shows how a radioactive plume would probably move and disperse.

The forecast, calculated Tuesday, is based on patterns of Pacific winds at that time and the predicted path is likely to change as weather patterns shift.

On Sunday, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it expected that no “harmful levels of radioactivity” would travel from Japan to the United States “given the thousands of miles between the two countries.”

The test ban treaty group routinely does radiation projections in an effort to understand which of its global stations to activate for monitoring the worldwide ban on nuclear arms testing. It has more than 60 stations that sniff the air for radiation spikes and uses weather forecasts and powerful computers to model the transport of radiation on the winds.

On Wednesday, the agency declined to release its Japanese forecast, which The New York Times obtained from other sources. The forecast was distributed widely to the agency’s member states.

But in interviews, the technical specialists of the agency did address how and why the forecast had been drawn up.

“It’s simply an indication,” said Lassina Zerbo, head of the agency’s International Data Center. “We have global coverage. So when something happens, it’s important for us to know which station can pick up the event.”

For instance, the Japan forecast shows that the radioactive plume will probably miss the agency’s monitoring stations at Midway and in the Hawaiian Islands but is likely to be detected in the Aleutians and at a monitoring station in Sacramento.

The forecast assumes that radioactivity in Japan is released continuously and forms a rising plume. It ends with the plume heading into Southern California and the American Southwest, including Nevada, Utah and Arizona. The plume would have continued eastward if the United Nations scientists had run the projection forward.

Earlier this week, the leading edge of the tangible plume was detected by the Navy’s Seventh Fleet when it was operating about 100 miles northeast of the Japanese reactor complex. On Monday, the Navy said it had repositioned its ships and aircraft off Japan “as a precautionary measure.”

The United Nations agency has also detected radiation from the stricken reactor complex at its detector station in Gunma, Japan, which lies about 130 miles to the southwest.

The chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory B. Jaczko, said Monday that the plume posed no danger to the United States. “You just aren’t going to have any radiological material that, by the time it traveled those large distances, could present any risk to the American public,” he said in a White House briefing.

Mr. Jaczko was asked if the meltdown of a core of one of the reactors would increase the chance of harmful radiation reaching Hawaii or the West Coast.

“I don’t want to speculate on various scenarios,” he replied. “But based on the design and the distances involved, it is very unlikely that there would be any harmful impacts.”

The likely path of the main Japanese plume across the Pacific has also caught the attention of Europeans, many of whom recall how the much closer Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine began spewing radiation.

In Germany on Wednesday, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection held a news conference that described the threat from the Japanese plume as trifling and said there was no need for people to take iodine tablets. The pills can prevent poisoning from the atmospheric release of iodine-131, a radioactive byproduct of nuclear plants. The United States is also carefully monitoring and forecasting the plume’s movements. The agencies include the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Energy.

On Wednesday, Steven Chu, the energy secretary, told Congress that the United States was planning to deploy equipment in Japan that could detect radiation exposure on the ground and in the air. In total, the department’s team includes 39 people and more than eight tons of equipment.

“We continue to offer assistance in any way we can,” Dr. Chu said at a hearing, “as well as informing ourselves of what the situation is.”



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U.S. shows growing alarm over Japan nuclear crisis


By Jeff Mason and Tom Doggett Jeff Mason And Tom Doggett – Wed Mar 16, 7:14 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States showed increasing alarm about the nuclear situation in Japan on Wednesday and urged its citizens to stay clear of an earthquake-crippled power plant — going further in its warnings than Japan itself.

As operators of the Fukushima plant pledged to try again to use helicopters to douse overheating reactors, U.S. officials warned about the risks of getting anywhere near the area and relied on their own officials for details about the danger.

“The situation has deteriorated in the days since the tsunami and … the situation has grown at times worse with potential greater damage and fallout from the reactor,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters.

U.S. officials took pains not to criticize the Japanese government, which has shown signs of being overwhelmed by the crisis, but Washington’s actions indicated a divide with the Japanese about the perilousness of the situation.

The State Department recommended that U.S. citizens within 50 miles of the plant leave the area or stay indoors.

Japan’s government has asked people living within 12 miles to evacuate and those between 12 miles and 18 miles to stay indoors.

The top U.S. nuclear regulator cast doubt on emergency workers’ ability to cool overheating reactors, saying radiation levels may give them “lethal doses” of radiation.

“We believe that around the reactor site there are high levels of radiation,” said Gregory Jaczko. “It would be very difficult for emergency workers to get near the reactors. The doses they could experience would potentially be lethal doses in a very short period of time.”

An official at Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said on Thursday morning local time that the level of radiation detected at the plant had fallen steadily over the past 12 hours.

The U.S. military has ordered its forces to stay 50 miles away from the plant, the Pentagon said. There are at least 55,000 U.S. forces in Japan and offshore assisting the relief operation.

US reactors in operation

“All of us are heartbroken by the images of what’s happening in Japan, and we’re reminded of how American leadership is critical to our closest allies,” President Barack Obama said in Washington.

“Even if those allies are themselves economically advanced and powerful, there are moments where they need our help, and we’re bound together by a common humanity,” he said.


High radiation levels prevented a helicopter from dropping water into the stricken Japanese plant’s No. 3 reactor to cool its fuel rods after an explosion damaged the roof and cooling system. Operators planned to try again on Thursday.

The State Department’s warning to U.S. citizens was based on new information collected by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Department of Energy and other U.S. sources.

The United States is trying to deploy equipment in Japan that can detect radiation exposure at the ground level, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu told a congressional hearing.

The detection system is part of the 17,200 pounds (7,800 kg) of equipment and 39 personnel from the Energy Department sent to Japan, he said. The department has also provided equipment to monitor airborne radiation.

The United States is deploying additional radiation monitors on Hawaii and other U.S. islands even though it does not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach U.S. soil, environmental regulators said.

Chu declined to tell lawmakers, when asked, whether he was satisfied with Japan’s response so far to its nuclear crisis, which began after last Friday’s devastating 9.0 magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami.

“I can’t really say. I think we hear conflicting reports,” Chu said.

“This is one of the reasons why (the United States is) there with boots on the ground, with detectors in the ground, not only to help assist (the) Japanese power company and the Japanese government but also for our own sake — to know what is really happening.”

Beyond the risk to workers at or near the damaged nuclear plant, one scientist, Dr. Ira Helfand, warned of possible widespread contamination of people and land.

“We need … to focus on the radioactive isotopes being dispersed at some distance from the plant, because this is going to cause a whole different set of health problems,” Helfand, past president of the anti-nuclear group Physicians for Social Responsibility, said in a telephone briefing.

The Obama administration has maintained its support for expanding U.S. use of nuclear energy despite renewed fears about its safety after the events in Japan.

But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday that the nuclear crisis raised questions about the use of nuclear energy in the United States.

“What’s happening in Japan raises questions about the costs and the risks associated with nuclear power, but we have to answer those. We get 20 percent of our energy right now in the United States from nuclear power,” she said in an interview with MSNBC in which she emphasized the need for a comprehensive U.S. energy policy.

(Additional reporting by Ayesha Rascoe, David Morgan, Andrew Quinn, Paul Eckert, Matt Spetalnick, Alister Bull, Patricia Zengerle, Steve Holland, Deborah Zabarenko and Phil Stewart; Editing by Peter Cooney)


U.S. radiation experts try to decipher reports from Japan
By Steve Sternberg, USA TODAY

Updated 7h 37m ago |

The Japanese government’s radiation report for the country’s 47 prefectures Wednesday had a notable omission: Fukushima, ground zero in Japan’s nuclear crisis. Measurements from Ibaraki, just south of Fukushima, were also blanked out.

Radiation experts in the USA say that the lack of information about radioactivity released from the smoldering reactors makes it impossible to gauge the current danger, project how bad a potential meltdown might be or calculate how much fallout might reach the USA.

Japanese nuclear experts are hard at work gathering information, said Fred Mettler, the U.S. representative for the United Nation’s committee on the health effects of radiation. “They’re monitoring and evaluating and watching the meteorology,” he said. “They need to know what the dose rates are in various places, what direction the (radiation is) moving in and what’s causing it.”

Conflicting accounts of the radiation levels emerged in Tokyo and on Capitol Hill. Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Wednesday that the radiation detected at the Fukushima plant had fallen steadily over the past 12 hours. But U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) chief Gregory Jaczko told a House energy subcommittee earlier in the day that radiation levels at the Fukushima plant were “extremely high.”

The chief of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, told reporters he will visit Japan to obtain “firsthand information” about the crisis and prod the Japanese government to provide more. Experts from the NRC, led by Charles Casto, were to arrive in the country on Wednesday.

Given accurate readings, U.S. experts can develop computer models of radiation released from the crippled reactors, factoring in prevailing winds, altitude and rainfall, said Owen Hoffman, a radiation expert from SENES Oak Ridge Inc., a consulting firm that calculated risks from Cold War nuclear tests.

One agency equipped to predict where the fallout may travel is the Department of Energy’s National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The center has tracked radiation emitted by the meltdowns at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Ukraine’s Chernobyl in 1986.

History may offer hints of what’s to come. At Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pa., only a small amount of radiation was released before the meltdown was controlled. Chernobyl spewed radiation for days, which rode wind currents worldwide.

Radioactive iodine falls from the plume in rainfall and settles on the grass, where it’s eaten by cows and builds up in their milk. Decades after Three Mile Island, no cancers or deaths have been conclusively linked to the U.S. disaster. Researchers have logged 6,000 thyroid cancers in survivors of Chernobyl, all in people who were younger than 18 when they were exposed. That’s about one-third of the 14,000 projected to occur.

Thyroid cancer is a major risk because the thyroid needs iodine to make thyroid hormone, which regulates metabolism. For those downwind of Chernobyl, the highest dose exceeded 1 gray, a measure of the radioactivity absorbed in the thyroid.

Children who drank commercial milk during the Cold War nuclear tests received about one-tenth of that, on average, Hoffman said. That was enough to boost their thyroid cancer risk to one in 100, more than twice the usual risk.

The Chernobyl meltdown also contaminated vast tracts of Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and northern Europe with radioactive cesium. “There are still limitations on the export of sheep from Cumbria, in the U.K., and reindeer from Scandinavia,” Hoffman said. Cesium also contaminated fish from Scandinavia’s northern lakes.

Cesium is absorbed by plants and works its way through the food chain, getting into meat and milk. Unlike radioactive iodine, which has a short half life, cesium lingers in the environment. “Radioactive iodine will be gone in a month,” Hoffman said. “Cesium’s going to be around for decades.”

Contributing: The Associated Press


Low radioactivity seen heading towards N.America

17 Mar 2011 14:35

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Particles not normal, but not dangerous-Swedish official

* U.S. nuclear body sees no “levels of harmful radiation”

* U.N. weather agency predicts northwesterly winter monsoon

(Adds U.S. comment)

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA, March 17 (Reuters) – Low concentrations of radioactive particles from Japan’s disaster-hit nuclear power plant have been heading eastwards and are expected to reach North America in days, a Swedish official said on Thursday.

In Washington, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said radioactivity would disperse over the long distance and it did not expect any harmful amounts to reach the country.

“We expect the United States to avoid any levels of harmful radiation,” NRC spokesman Joey Ledford told Reuters. “We do not anticipate any threat to American interests.”

The Swedish official, research director Lars-Erik De Geer of the Swedish Defence Research Institute, was citing data from a network of international monitoring stations set up to detect signs of any nuclear weapons tests.

Also stressing the levels were not dangerous for people, he predicted particles would eventually also continue across the Atlantic and reach Europe.

“It is not something you see normally,” he said by phone from Stockholm, adding the results he now had were based on observations from earlier in the week. But, “it is not high from any danger point of view.”

De Geer said he was convinced they would eventually be detected over the whole northern hemisphere.

“It is only a question of very, very low activities so it is nothing for people to worry about,” De Geer said.

“In the past when they had nuclear weapons tests in China … then there were similar clouds all the time without anybody caring about it at all,” he said.


De Geer said the main air movement in the northern half of the globe normally went from west to east, but suggested the direction occasionally changed and at times turned.

In Geneva, the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said on Thursday that a “northwesterly winter monsoon flow prevails over the eastern and northern part of Japan” and that this was expected to remain the case until around midnight GMT.

The New York Times earlier said a forecast of the possible movement of the radioactive plume showed it churning across the Pacific, and touching the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting southern California late on Friday.

It said the projection was made by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), a Vienna-based independent body for monitoring possible breaches of the test ban.

The CTBTO has more than 60 stations around the world which can pick up very low levels of radioactive particles such as caesium and iodine isotopes.

It continuously provides data to its member states, including Sweden, but does not make the details public.

De Geer said he believed the radioactive particles would “eventually also come here”.

The New York Times said health and nuclear experts emphasized radiation would be diluted as it travelled and at worst would have extremely minor health consequences in the United States.

In a similar way, radiation from the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 spread around the globe and reached the west coast of the United States in 10 days, its levels measurable but minuscule. (Additional reporting by David Morgan in Washington; editing by Diana Abdallah)


Swedish Government: Radiation To Cover Entire Northern Hemisphere

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Paul Joseph Watson
March 17, 2011

Swedish Government: Radiation To Cover Entire Northern Hemisphere 170311top2

Suggesting that levels of radiation leaks from the stricken Fukushima plant are being grossly underreported by Japanese authorities, a Swedish government agency told Reuters today that not only will the radiation reach North America, but it will subsequently cover the entire northern hemisphere.

“Lars-Erik De Geer, research director at the Swedish Defense Research Institute, a government agency, was citing data from a network of international monitoring stations established to detect signs of any nuclear weapons tests,” reports Reuters.

“Stressing that the levels were not dangerous for people, he predicted the particles would continue across the Atlantic and eventually also reach Europe.”

De Geer said he was “convinced it would eventually be detected over the whole northern hemisphere,” according to the report, adding that radioactive particles would “eventually also come here,” referring to Europe.

De Geer’s prognosis arrives on the back of a study of data by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, which confirmed that the radioactive plume from Fukushima would reach the Aleutian Islands on Thursday before hitting southern California late on Friday. The CBTO has a network of radiation monitors deployed globally that can detect radioactive particles such as caesium and iodine isotopes.

Experts are correct in assuming that the initial waves of radiation will be low, but expect levels to rise in subsequent days as the effects of the three blasts to impact the Fukushima facility, which occurred on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday, manifest themselves in the form of increased radiation injected into the atmosphere.

“Naturally, with the credibility of every government around the world shot, it is no surprise that most consumer Geiger counter stores are sold out of inventory at this point, at virtually all price points,” writes Tyler Durden.

As we reported earlier, having confidence in the trustworthiness of governments globally who have habitually lied about the true threat posed by radiation, notably after the 3 Mile Island accident and the Chernobyl disaster, is somewhat less than wise.

However, at least the Swedes can be trusted to know a thing or two about detecting radiation. While the Soviets were furiously engaged in a cover-up of the Chernobyl disaster which occurred on April 26 1986, Swedish workers at the Forsmark Nuclear Power Plant were the first ones to detect the fallout from the accident two days later on April 28.

It was only after the workers failed to find the source of any radioactive leak at their own plant that the true horror of what had happened 1,100 km (680 miles) away in the western Soviet Union began to unravel.

The whole planet is united in hoping that Japanese technicians find some way to restore power and water cooling system to the Fukushima plant before that terrible scenario has any chance of repeating.

Stock up with Fresh Food that lasts with eFoodsDirect (Ad)

The video below shows how far the radiation clouds from Chernobyl spread across Europe, smothering virtually the entire continent within 7 days. Although agencies like the WHO and the IAEA claimed that only 9,000 people died as a consequence, more contemporary studies have shown that nearly a million people have been killed from cancers caused by the disaster over the course of the last 25 years.

Paul Joseph Watson is the editor and writer for Prison Planet.com. He is the author of Order Out Of Chaos. Watson is also a regular fill-in host for The Alex Jones Show.


Conflicting messages on the need for US residents to purchase Potassium Iodide

Surgeon General: Buying Iodide a “Precaution” Conflicting messages appear in the effort to buy iodide tablets

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Updated 3:30 PM PDT, Tue, Mar 15, 2011 | Print

The fear that a nuclear cloud could float from the shores of Japan to the shores of California has some people making a run on iodine tablets. Pharmacists across California report being flooded with requests.

State and county officials spent much of Tuesday trying to keep people calm by saying that getting the pills wasn’t necessary, but then the United States surgeon general supported the idea as a worthy “precaution.”


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U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin is in the Bay Area touring a peninsula hospital. NBC Bay Area reporter Damian Trujillo asked her about the run on tablets and Dr. Benjamin said although she wasn’t aware of people stocking up, she did not think that would be an overreaction. She said it was right to be prepared.

On the other side of the issue is Kelly Huston of the California Emergency Management Agency. Huston said state officials, along with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the California Energy Commission, were monitoring the situation and said people don’t need to buy the pills.

“Even if we had a radiation release from Diablo Canyon (in San Luis Obispo County), iodide would only be issued to people living within a 10-mile radius of the plant,” Huston added.

Santa Clara County’s public health officer Dr. Martin Fenstersheib told the Mercury News he also does not recommend getting the tablets, adding some people can be severely allergic to the iodine.

“There is no reason for doing it,” Fenstersheib told the paper.

Either way, the pills are hard to get. eBay prices have skyrocketed.

View more videos at: http://www.nbcbayarea.com.

Japan’s Nightmare Continues: All THREE damaged Nuclear Reactors now in “meltdown”. Evacuations expand as potential for exposure reaches mainland US

Japan’s nightmare gets even WORSE: All THREE damaged nuclear reactors now in ‘meltdown’ at tsunami-hit power station

By Richard Shears
14th March 2011

Destruction Annihilation Devastation Catastophe

* Fuel rods appear to be melting inside three over-heating reactors
* Experts class development as ‘partial meltdown’
* Japan calls for U.S. help cooling the reactor
* 180,000 people have been evacuated amid meltdown fears

The Japanese nuclear reactor hit by the tsunami went into ‘meltdown’ today, as officials admitted that fuel rods appear to be melting inside three damaged reactors.

There is a risk that molten nuclear fuel can melt through the reactor’s safety barriers and cause a serious radiation leak.

There have already been explosions inside two over-heating reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, and the fuel rods inside a third were partially exposed as engineers desperately fight to keep them cool after the tsunami knocked out systems.

A former nuclear power plant designer has said Japan is facing an extremely grave crisis and called on the government to release more information, which he said was being suppressed. Masashi Goto told a news conference in Tokyo that one of the reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was “highly unstable”, and that if there was a meltdown the “consequences would be tremendous”. He said such an event might be very likely indeed. So far, the government has said a meltdown would not lead to a sizeable leak of radioactive materials.

‘Meltdown’: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant moments after it was rocked by a second explosion today. Officials later admitted that fuel rods are ‘highly likely’ to be melting in three damaged reactors

‘Meltdown’: The Fukushima Daiichi

Fireball: A build-up of hydrogen in Unit Three of Fukushima ignites in a ball of fire that can be seen for miles

Extensive damage: Experts now debating if radiation could hit US west Coast



The Japanese reactors work by harnessing the energy of thousands of nuclear fuel rods, that are normally kept submerged in water to keep them cool.

But if the cooling system fails, the heat generated by the nuclear reaction increases uncontrollably.

If that continues for long enough, the nuclear fuel can melt, forming molten pools on the floor of the reactor at thousands of degrees celcius.

This is a meltdown.

These pools of molten fuel can melt through the reactor safety barriers – there is an inner and outer shield.

The worst case scenario is that the protective shield around the reactors is melted away, resulting in a serious leak of radioactive material.

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Japanese chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said it was ‘highly likely’ that the fuel rods inside all three stricken reactors are melting.

Some experts class that a partial meltdown of the reactor, but others would only use that term for when molten nuclear fuel melts through a reactor’s inner chamber – but not through the outer containment shell.

As fuel rods melt, they form an extremely hot molten pool at the bottom of the reactor that can melt through even the toughest of containment barriers.

Japan is fighting to avoid a nuclear catastrophe after the tsunami. There was a hydrogen explosion at the reactor in Unit Three of the power station earlier today, in which eleven workers were hurt by the blast that was felt 25 miles away.

The reactor at Unit One of Fukushima exploded on Saturday, blowing several walls away but engineers said the core was still contained. The fuel rods in the reactor in Unit Two of the plant were partially exposed from their coolant today – which also increases the risk of meltdown.

Engineers have been fighting to keep the reactors under control after the tsunami knocked out emergency coolant systems on Friday.

Earlier engineers were frantically trying to cool radioactive materials at all the reactors with seawater but had halted the process, which resulted in a rise in radiation levels and pressure.

Plant managers knew an explosion was a possibility as they struggled to reduce pressure inside the reactor containment vessel in Unit Three, but apparently felt they had no choice if they wanted to avoid a complete meltdown.

In the end, the hydrogen in the released steam mixed with oxygen in the atmosphere and set off the blast, which was felt 25 miles away.

The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Company said radiation levels at the reactor were still within legal limits.

A Red Cross rescue worker, in red, is scanned for signs of radiation after returning from Fukushima to his hospital in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture

Consequences of meltdown: this graphic shows how a full-scale meltdown could affect the United States


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The Unites States Navy has moved its Seventh Fleet away from an earthquake-stricken Japanese nuclear power plant after detecting raised radiation levels.

The fleet said today that the radiation was from a plume of smoke and steam released from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, which has been hit by two explosions since Friday’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, pictured, was about 100miles (160km) offshore when its instruments detected the radiation.

But the fleet said the dose of radiation was about the same as one month’s normal exposure to natural background radiation in the environment. The aircraft carrier is the USS Ronald Reagan

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the Unit Three reactor’s inner containment vessel holding nuclear rods is intact, allaying some fears of the risk to the environment and public.

The government had warned that a further explosion was possible because of the build-up of hydrogen in the building housing the reactor.

More than 180,000 people have been evacuated from the area.

Japan has distributed 230,000 units of stable iodine to evacuation centres as a precaution. it can be used to protect against thyroid cancer in the event of a radiation leak.

The developments came as Californian officials monitor the situation, amid fears that nuclear material could be blown across the Atlantic to the U.S. if there is a large leak.

However, the winds could shift and hit a different part of the U.S after crossing the Pacific.

Michael Sicilia, spokesman for California Department of Public Health, said: ‘We are monitoring the situation closely in conjunction with our federal partners.’

In the event of a major leak, radiation would take between seven and 10 days to cross the Atlantic.

In Japan earlier a state of emergency had been declared after the high levels of radiation were detected at the nuclear power complex.

Thousands of families have been evacuated and many more were yesterday being checked for radiation exposure as Japan began to take stock of what the prime minister labelled its ‘most severe crisis since the Second World War’ – when the U.S. dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Tens of thousands are feared dead, with bodies being picked up from beaches along a 300-mile stretch of coastline.

Reaching out: A young woman who has been isolated at a makeshift facility to screen, cleanse and isolate people with high radiation levels, looks at her dog through a window in Nihonmatsu, northern Japan


German carrier Luftansa has begun scanning flights from Japan for radioactive material – but have not found any yet.

Airport fire services have checked planes landing at Frankfurt and Munich, an official spokesman confirmed.

The carrier are the first to take the action – as a U.S. aircraft carrier sent to help relief efforts was forced to move because of the radiation leak at Fukushima.

The ship was around 100 miles north-east of the plant when radiation was detected.

Others are being gathered from the sea and thousands more are believed to lie buried deep in mud under the debris of homes and cars. At least 10,000 people – half the population of the port of Minami Sanriku – were unaccounted for and the town has been virtually wiped off the map.

Nearby Rikuzentakata was also swamped and destroyed by Friday’s tsunami, killing at least 400 people.

Hundreds of Britons – many of them English language teachers – are among the missing.

Some 100,000 troops and civil defence members, backed by ships and helicopters, yesterday began the mammoth task of clearing rubble and searching for survivors and bodies.

So many people died because when the nine-magnitude Pacific Ocean earthquake struck 80 miles off the coast of Sendai, warnings were issued that a tsunami would hit land in an hour.

But survivors said it struck in nine minutes.

There were warnings last night that strong aftershocks, with a magnitude of six or more, could be expected for at least another week – and Tokyo shuddered several times yesterday as a series of shocks struck the city.

Before and after: The Fukushima plant has suffered two major blasts since the earthquake last week – as can be seen from the image, right

Horrific memories: The towns destroyed by the tsunami look very similar to Hiroshima in 1945

But the gravest consequence of the earthquake and tsunami could yet be felt, as scientists frantically tried to control the threat of nuclear meltdown.

Men in white protective suits and masks swept Geiger counters over frightened survivors yesterday as nuclear experts around the world monitored the crippled and unstable Fukushima plant, 150 miles north of Tokyo.

Up to 200,000 people were evacuated from within a 12-mile radius of the plant, which remains the biggest threat.

Officials revealed that 22 people had already been recorded with radiation poisoning, and they said around 190 were in the plant’s vicinity when radioactive steam was deliberately leaked in an attempt to cool the reactors.

And the words designed to reassure the public that they were in no danger from any leaked radiation were at odds with those from the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power.

The company conceded that radiation levels around the complex had risen above the safety limit but tried to appease the public by stating
that it did not mean an ‘immediate threat’ to human health.

It also emerged yesterday that the government ignored explicit warnings from a Japanese expert on nuclear power more than three years ago.
Professor Ishibashi Katsuhiko, of Kobe University, said the guidelines introduced to protect the nuclear plants were ‘seriously flawed’ and that the plants were vulnerable to major quakes.

‘Unless radical steps are taken now to reduce the vulnerability of nuclear power plants to earthquakes, Japan could experience a true nuclear catastrophe in the near future,’ he warned in 2007.

Elsewhere, millions of people are without power and water, factories will remain closed for weeks and Tokyo has been warned there will probably have to be power cuts to conserve electricity.

At rescue centres in Sendai, where people prepared for a third night sleeping on the floor, notice boards are cluttered with the names of the missing.

Weeping survivors said they could only pray that poor communications had failed to put them in touch with their loved ones. One elderly woman reading through one of the lists suddenly exclaimed:’That’s me! They say I’m missing. Well, here I am. My sons must be worried sick about me. But I’m OK.’

Rail services to Sendai and beyond were postponed indefinitely and the only way anyone had any hope of reaching the stricken region was by air, flying to towns on the west coast and attempting to drive across the island. But police have blocked many roads, to keep them clear for rescue vehicles and ambulances.

From the air, rail carriages could be seen lying on their sides. Cars and houses were piled up like debris thrown on to a huge rubbish tip.

So how alarmed should we be over this crisis?


Enthusiasts for atomic power are today, inevitably, on the back foot. Those who argue that in the normal course of things nuclear energy is the safest and most reliable form of energy have to contend with a single word: ‘meltdown’.

This is a scenario that brings dread to the hearts of nuclear engineers – an uncontained chain reaction in a reactor core, a blob of molten radioactive metal burning its way out of the containment chamber and a massive release of radioactive fission products such as iodine-131 and strontium-90 into the environment.

It was a partial meltdown which led to the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1978, and a similar explosive breakdown that caused the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

Both incidents brought strident calls to abandon nuclear power altogether – calls which are bound to intensify following the still-unfolding Japanese catastrophe.

On top of the worst earthquake in its history and a tsunami which may have killed tens of thousands, Japan – a nation which for obvious reasons after the events of 1945 has a love-hate relationship with nuclear power – is staring into the atomic abyss.

What actually caused the accident at Fukushima is still unclear but it seems that in simple terms, the power station was hit by a power cut.

First, seismic detectors at the plant, alerted by the earthquake, triggered an automatic shutdown – by inserting boron rods into the reactor cores, stopping the heat-producing fission reaction.

Normally, the reactor fuel would simply have cooled down safely over a matter of days. But then the tsunami swept through local power grids and back-up generators which provided the electricity for the reactor cooling pumps – possibly fracturing the water main into the plant as well.

Like a car engine with a leaking radiator, the heat started to build up to dangerous levels. Nuclear power stations are essentially huge kettles. You have a power source – the nuclear reactor itself – which gets hot; several hundred degrees in a controlled fission reaction.

The heat is produced by the fission – splitting – of atoms of radioactive materials, such as uranium.

This produces not only heat but radiation, and also the creation of radioactive by-products which themselves emit heat as they undergo radioactive decay.

This explains why, even if the primary nuclear reaction is stopped, heat will continue to be generated for days – enough to melt the reactor core if it is not cooled. In normal operation, all this heat is useful – it is used to boil water, which makes steam that is then used to drive electricity-generating turbines.

The problem is that you cannot simply turn off an atomic reactor instantly. It takes days for the red-hot fuel rods to cool down – and that is provided they are supplied with adequate coolant.

Professor Richard Wakeford, a nuclear expert at Manchester University, said yesterday: ‘If the fuel is not covered by cooling water it could become so hot it begins to melt – if all the fuel is uncovered you could get a large-scale meltdown.’

Hopefully this will not happen, and thanks to both the design of the Japanese reactors and to the swift and organised response of the authorities, handing out iodine pills to prevent the ingestion of cancer-causing substances, there is little chance that Fukushima will enter the annals of notoriety alongside Chernobyl.

One possibility which can be discounted is the so-called ‘China Syndrome’, the wholly fictitious idea that a molten reactor core could melt its way through the Earth and emerge on the other side. It is now known that even a total meltdown, although deadly, would soon be contained and cool down naturally. But already questions are being asked – about Japan’s nuclear safety record, and what implications this has outside Japan.

Was it wrong to build a series of atomic reactors so close to the ocean? Experts suggest that given the whole country is an earthquake zone, there is nowhere the plant could be built which would not be at risk.

Unlike Chernobyl, there is no chance that this could become an international incident; Japan is simply too far away from anywhere else for the radiation to spread, and the most serious radioactive contaminant – Iodine-131 – has a half-life of just eight days. Furthermore, the Japanese government is rich, competent and open – which the Soviet authorities in 1986 conspicuously were not.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1365781/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-All-3-Fukushima-nuclear-plant-reactors-meltdown.html#ixzz1GbwEENuW

U.S. Navy crewmembers in Japan

By Michael Sheridan

Originally Published:Monday, March 14th 2011, 6:57 AM
Updated: Monday, March 14th 2011, 10:07 AM

Seventeen crewmembers on three U.S. Navy helicopters were found to have been contaminated with low levels of radiation, officials say.

Should American forces be in Japan aiding with relief efforts?
Absolutely. We need to stand with our Japanese friends as long as we are needed.
No. We are facing a budget crisis – we need to look inward before looking outward.
Not sure.

The radioactivity was detected when the service members returned to the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan aboard three helicopters. They were treated with soap and water and their clothes were discarded.

“No further contamination was detected,” the military said.

The helicopters were also decontaminated.

The U.S. 7th Fleet, positioned about 100 miles northeast of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to deliver aid to Japan’s coastal region, moved its ships further away due to “airborne radioactivity” and contamination found on its planes.

The military noted, however, that the level of contamination was very low, and the ship movement was merely a precaution.

“For perspective, the maximum potential radiation dose received by any ship’s force personnel aboard the ship when it passed through the area was less than the radiation exposure received from about one month of exposure to natural background radiation from sources such as rocks, soil, and the sun,” the Navy said.

The Fukushima nuclear power plant suffered a second explosion Sunday. At least six workers at the plant were injured in the blast, officials said. A smaller explosion rocked the plant on Saturday.

Radioactive steam was vented recently from the plant in order to ease pressure on the reactors and prevent another meltdown, CNN reported. It is believe that a meltdown previously occurred in at least one of the reactors in the last few days.

“We remain totally committed to our mission of providing assistance to the people of Japan,” Navy spokesman Jeff Davis told ABC News.

[email protected]; or follow him at Twitter.com/NYDNSheridan

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/2011/03/14/2011-03-14_17_us_navy_crewmembers_exposed_to_low_level_radiation_in_japan.html#ixzz1GbxJ1NDA

Winds at Japan Power Plants Should Send Radiation out to Sea
Meghan Evans
By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist
Mar 14, 2011; 9:26 AM ET

Following Friday’s major earthquake east of Japan, fears were raised of radiations leaks and nuclear meltdowns at power plants.

Radiation was reported to be leaking over the weekend from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant from one of the reactors that had lost its cooling system.

CNN reports that a cooling system of a second reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant failed on Sunday, forcing officials to expand the evacuation zone of surrounding residents from 10 km to 20 km (6 miles to 12 miles).

Complicating matters, a second hydrogen explosion occurred at the plant early Monday.

A man holds his baby as they are scanned for levels of radiation in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Sunday, March 13, 2011. Friday’s quake and tsunami damaged two nuclear reactors at a power plant in the prefecture, and at least one of them appeared to be going through a partial meltdown, raising fears of a radiation leak. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

A state of emergency was declared on Sunday at a nuclear power plant in Onagawa, Japan, as well. Excessive radiation levels have been recorded following Friday’s earthquake, according to the United Nations’ atomic watchdog agency.

Three reactor units at the Onagawa plant are being watched and controlled for radiation leaks and possible meltdown.

The wind direction may impact where the radiation goes both at a local level and even across the globe. The wind direction at both of these locations are similar since the Onagawa power plant is located just to the northeast of Fukushima power plant.

“The exact direction of the winds would have to be known at the time of the release of a large amount of radiation to understand exactly where the radiation would go,” according to Expert Senior Global Meteorologist Jim Andrews.

It is unknown when a large release of radiation would occur, if at all, at this point.

“You can calculate how long the release of a radiation would take to cross the Pacific from Japan to the U.S. by choosing different speeds that the radioactive particles might be moving and using the direct distance between given locations- say Sendai, Japan, and Seattle, Wash.,” Andrews added.

However, even that calculation may not reflect how long the particle would take to cross the Pacific, since it would not likely cross the ocean in a direct path. This is the case because the wind flow is often a complicated pattern.

A typical wind trajectory across the Pacific is westerly, since there is often a large dome of high pressure over the central Pacific and an area of low pressure in the Gulf of Alaska.

Any storm systems moving across the Pacific would add kinks in the westerly flow that would make the path of a particle crossing the Pacific longer.

“In other words, it would be a very intricate and difficult calculation,” said Andrews.

On a local level, it is easier to break down the direction of the wind.

On Monday, the winds at the Fukushima power plant and the Onagawa power plant will generally be out of the north to northwest. So, the wind flow will still be directed offshore into the Pacific.

This would be a protective wind that would blow most of the radiation out to sea.

The wind direction will switch to an onshore direction Monday night into Tuesday, threatening to send the radiation toward the population.

“We are getting into the time of year where onshore winds occur most often,” said Andrews.

This is not good news, since an onshore direction would blow most of the radiation toward populated areas. An added threat is that with higher elevations just about 4 miles inland from the power plants, if a temperature inversion sets up in the atmosphere, radiation could be trapped.

Authorities have warned residents to keep windows and doors closed and air-conditioning fans switched off to eliminate the intake of air from outside.

Calculated time for radioactive particles to cross the Pacific from the power plants in Japan to big West Coast cities if the particles take a direct path and move at a speed of 20 mph:

Cities Est. Distance (miles) Est. Time to Cross Pacific (days)
Anchorage 3,457 7
Honolulu 3,847 8
Seattle 4,792 10
Los Angeles 5,477 11


THOUSANDS OF BODIES WASH ASHORE overwhelms quake-hit Japan

By JAY ALABASTER and TODD PITMAN, Associated Press Jay Alabaster And Todd Pitman, Associated Press – Mon Mar 14, 11:50 am ET

TAKAJO, Japan – A tide of bodies washed up along Japan’s coastline Monday, overwhelming crematoriums, exhausting supplies of body bags and adding to the spiraling humanitarian, economic and nuclear crisis after the massive earthquake and tsunami.

Millions of people faced a fourth night without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures along the northeast coast devastated by Friday’s disasters. Meanwhile, a third reactor at a nuclear power plant lost its cooling capacity and its fuel rods were fully exposed, raising fears of a meltdown. The stock market plunged over the likelihood of huge losses by Japanese industries including big names such as Toyota and Honda.

On the coastline of Miyagi prefecture, which took the full force of the tsunami, a Japanese police official said 1,000 bodies were found scattered across the coastline. Kyodo, the Japanese news agency, reported that 2,000 bodies washed up on two shorelines in Miyagi.

In one town in a neighboring prefecture, the crematorium was unable to handle the large number of bodies being brought in for funerals.

“We have already begun cremations, but we can only handle 18 bodies a day. We are overwhelmed and are asking other cites to help us deal with bodies. We only have one crematorium in town,” Katsuhiko Abe, an official in Soma, told The Associated Press.

While the official death toll rose to nearly 1,900, the discovery of the washed-up bodies and other reports of deaths suggest the true number is much higher. In Miyagi, the police chief has said 10,000 people are estimated to have died in his province alone.

The outspoken governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, told reporters Monday that the disaster was “punishment from heaven” because Japanese have become greedy.

Across Japan, most people opt to cremate their dead. With so many bodies, the government on Monday waived a rule requiring permission first from local authorities before cremation or burial to speed up funerals, said Health Ministry official Yukio Okuda.

“The current situation is so extraordinary, and it is very likely that crematoriums are running beyond capacity,” said Okuda. “This is an emergency measure. We want to help quake-hit people as much as we can.”

Friday’s double tragedy has caused unimaginable deprivation for people of this industrialized country — Asia’s richest — which hasn’t seen such hardship since World War II. In many areas there is no running water, no power and four- to five-hour waits for gasoline. People are suppressing hunger with instant noodles or rice balls while dealing with the loss of loved ones and homes

AP/Kyodo News

“People are surviving on little food and water. Things are simply not coming,” said Hajime Sato, a government official in Iwate prefecture, one of the hardest hit.

Sato said deliveries of food and other supplies were just 10 percent of what is needed. Body bags and coffins were running so short that the government may turn to foreign funeral homes for help, he said.

“We have requested funeral homes across the nation to send us many body bags and coffins. But we simply don’t have enough,” he said. “We just did not expect such a thing to happen. It’s just overwhelming.”

The pulverized coast has been hit by hundreds of aftershocks since Friday, the latest one a 6.2 magnitude quake that was followed by a new tsunami scare Monday.

As sirens wailed, soldiers abandoned their search operations and told residents of the devastated shoreline in Soma, the worst hit town in Fukushima prefecture, to run to safety.

They barked out orders: “Find high ground! Get out of here!” Several soldiers were seen leading an old woman up a muddy hillside. The warning turned out to be a false alarm and interrupted the efforts of search parties who arrived in Soma for the first time since Friday to dig out bodies.

Ambulances stood by and body bags were laid out in an area cleared of debris, as firefighters used hand picks and chain saws to clear a jumble of broken timber, plastic sheets, roofs, sludge, twisted cars, tangled power lines and household goods.

Ships were flipped over near roads, a half-mile (a kilometer) inland. Officials said one-third of the city of 38,000 people was flooded and thousands were missing.

Though Japanese officials have refused to speculate on how high the death toll could rise, an expert who dealt with the 2004 Asian tsunami offered a dire outlook.

“It’s a miracle really, if it turns out to be less than 10,000” dead, said Hery Harjono, a senior geologist with the Indonesian Science Institute, who was closely involved with the aftermath of the earlier disaster that killed 230,000 people — of which only 184,000 bodies were found.

He drew parallels between the two disasters — notably that many bodies in Japan may have been sucked out to sea or remain trapped beneath rubble as they did in Indonesia’s hardest-hit Aceh province. But he also stressed that Japan’s infrastructure, high-level of preparedness and city planning to keep houses away from the shore could mitigate its human losses.

According to public broadcaster NHK, some 430,000 people are living in emergency shelters or with relatives. Another 24,000 people are stranded, it said.

One reason for the loss of power is the damage to several nuclear reactors in the area. At one plant, Fukushima Dai-ichi, three reactors have lost the ability to cool down. A building holding one of them exploded on Monday. Operators were dumping sea water into all three reactors in a final attempt to cool their superheated containers that faced possible meltdown. If that happens, they could release radioactive material in the air.

Though people living within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius were ordered to leave over the weekend, authorities told anyone remaining there or in nearby areas to stay inside their homes following the blast.

Military personnel on helicopters returning to ships with the U.S. 7th Fleet registered low-level of radioactive contamination Monday, but were cleared after a scrub-down. As a precaution, the ships shifted to a different area off the coast.

So far, Tokyo Electric Power, the nuclear plant’s operator, is holding off on imposing the rolling blackouts it earlier said it would need but the utility urged people to limit electricity use. To help reduce the power load, many regional train lines were suspended or operating on a limited schedule.

The impact that lack of electricity, damaged roads and railways and ruined plants would have on the world’s third-largest economy helped drag down the share markets on Monday, the first business day since the disasters. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average fell 6.2 percent while the broader Topix index lost 7.5 percent.

To lessen the damage, Japan’s central bank injected 15 trillion yen (US$184 billion) into money markets.

Beyond the stock exchanges, recovering from the disaster is likely to weigh on already debt-burdened Japan, which has barely managed weak growth between slowdowns for 20 years.

Initial estimates put repair costs in the tens of billions of dollars, costs that would likely add to a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of gross domestic product, is the biggest among industrialized nations.


Pitman reported from Sendai. Associated Press writers Eric Talmadge in Soma, Kelly Olsen in Koriyama, Malcolm J. Foster, Mari Yamaguchi, Tomoko A. Hosaka and Shino Yuasa in Tokyo and Niniek Karmini in Jakarta contributed to this report.



The World From Berlin
Nuclear Disaster ‘Will Have Political Impact as Great as 9/11’


The nuclear disaster in Fukushima makes it hard to ignore the vulnurabilities of the technology. It could spell the end of nuclear power, German commentators argue on Monday. The government in Berlin may now cave in to mounting pressure to suspend its 12-year extension of reactor lifetimes, they say.

The nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima plant following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami has led to anxious questions in Germany about the safety of its own nuclear reactors and is putting the government under intense pressure to rethink its decision to extend plant lifetimes by an average of 12 years.

German media commentators across the political spectrum are saying the accident in a highly developed nation such as Japan is further evidence that nuclear power isn’t safe. One commentator in the conservative Die Welt went as far as to liken the global impact of the Fukushima explosions to that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Merkel reversed the plan to stop Nuclear construction.

She argued that nuclear power was needed as “bridge technology” to ensure the supply of affordable power as Germany converts to renewable energy generation. She plans to increase the share of renewable generation to 80 percent by 2050, from a current level of only 16 percent.

A majority of Germans are opposed to nuclear power and the Fukushima accident is becoming a campaign issue ahead of state elections, the most important of which is being held in the conservative-ruled and wealthy state of Baden-Württemberg on March 27. Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party has held the state since 1953, and a defeat would be a major psychological blow to the chancellor and her party.


Photo Gallery: Japan Earthquake Disaster in Pictures

It would also make it harder for her to pass legislation because the opposition parties would gain power in the country’s upper legislative chamber, the Bundesrat, which represents the interests of the states and has the right of co-determination on many important laws.

On Monday, support in Merkel’s coalition for extending nuclear lifetimes started to crumble. Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, the leader of the FDP, called for a safety review at all German nuclear plants. Power stations whose cooling systems were found to lack multiple safety levels would have to be switched off “until the situation is totally clear.”

Other members of the coalition have also been calling for a rethink.

German media commentators say Fukushima may force Merkel to shut German reactors down sooner.

Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

“The events in Japan, which geographically couldn’t be much further from Germany, will influence politics in this country. They could soon start changing majorities and make governing even harder for the center-right coalition. The decision it made on nuclear power in September 2010 could be its undoing.”

“There are few issues that can fire up people’s emotions and mobilize them politically as much as nuclear power can. That’s not good news for a government that supports nuclear power. Especially ahead of important regional elections, which won’t affect the balance of power in national politics but which could well influence the morale of party workers to preserve that power.”

“It’s not good news because in the end, for example in Baden-Württemberg, it will only take a few percentage points more or less to determine the election outcome. Doubts among the supporters of the conservatives or the FDP could keep a few thousand voters from the ballot boxes — or drive them into the arms of the center-left parties.”

“For Merkel, it is hard to imagine a greater accident at present than the loss of a CDU governor in Baden-Württemberg.”

“The safety precautions (at the Japanese nuclear plant) weren’t just insufficient; the operating company TEPCO systematically breached them, as the government ascertained in 2002. TEPCO falsified security reports in more than 200 cases.”

“Japan is a democracy, but so far the control of the government by the voters has hardly worked. Things only got a little better after the Democratic Party came to power two years ago. Before that, the often incompetent and corrupt governments were never voted out of office. The perestroika that Japan so urgently needs has scarcely begun.”

“The unpopular government of Prime Minister Naoto Kan has been on the brink of collapse in recent weeks. It seemed paralyzed, distracted, disoriented and divided. Now it has to lead the country through what may be its worst disaster since 1945. Can it? In the Soviet Union the Chernobyl disaster accelerated the downfall of a broken, paralyzed political system.”

Left-wing Die Tageszeitung writes:

“It was always said that danger only came from rickety old reactors in former Eastern Bloc states — while conveniently ignoring that Sweden, France or the United States kept on narrowly avoiding maximum credible accidents. The disaster of Fukushima has made clear: There are situations in which even triple safety systems fail.”

“The weak argument offered by the nuclear lobby that Germany isn’t prone to heavy earthquakes and tsunamis doesn’t apply. If a chain of serious events and stupid coincidences cause prolonged power outages, if the access routes are blocked or if the control room is destroyed by a plane crash, German reactors too will overheat. ”

Conservative Die Welt writes:

“The earthquake of March 11 was no terrorist attack. But its political and psychological consequences will be as great as 9/11 because it has shown what a terrorist attack on nuclear plants would look like.”

“The photos of burning buildings being swept away are disturbing enough, but nuclear power makes the decisive difference. The shockwave that went out from Fukushima may have only reached three kilometers in physical terms. But in mental terms it went around the whole world.”

“Chernobyl was a special case. Nuclear energy was viewed with suspicion but it was accepted as long as modern democracies harnessed it with security precautions.”

“That is over now. Faith in redundant, coincidence-proof security precautions has been wiped out by Fukushima. The high-tech democracy Japan has shown what could happen if an Internet attack on German or French nuclear reactors were to happen as it did with the ‘Stuxnet’ program against the Iranian nuclear program. Or if a determined, technologically skilled terrorist group were to seize control of a power station. One knew it before. Seeing it has made the difference.”

Conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung writes:

“It seems inappropriate to criticize the information policy of the Japanese government. Some of its statements may seem a bit overly reticent, but one should allow a government the right not to descend into speculation about all the theoretically possible scenarios. People are already being inundated by enough of such speculation.”

“Japan has always been at the forefront of disaster relief efforts in other parts of the world. That is why the country now has at least a moral claim to assistance from its friends. People abroad may find it irritating that the country will probably have to keep on using nuclear power in the future. But this isn’t the time for know-it-all advice. One should imagine what would have happened if a reactor in a country with less rigid safety standards had been subjected to such an earthquake.”

The mass-circulation Bild tabloid writes:

“The nuclear accident is giving even firm supporters of nuclear power cause for thought, because the unthinkable happened in Fukushima. But even if we wanted to, we couldn’t switch off all nuclear reactors overnight. Because the lights would literally go out. The maximum credible accident of Fukushima forces us to check the safety standards of our nuclear power stations. And to think harder about the quickest possible way to get out of nuclear power generation.”

“The Japanese tragedy will dramatically change the debate over nuclear power. But the issue is too serious to start fanning people’s fears in election campaigns. It may be tempting for campaigners to go out hunting for votes with the suffering of the Japanese. But that would be shabby, pitiful and repellent.”

Left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:

“This hasn’t hit a run-down Soviet reactor, a badly constructed Russian plutonium machine which supplied the army with material for their nuclear weapons, as was the case with Chernobyl in 1986. Then and ever since, the builders of nuclear power stations in Europe, North America and Japan boasted that a serious accident could be virtually ruled out thanks to superior Western nuclear technology.”

“Every country — Germany, the US and Japan — claimed to have the world’s best reactors. Everything was secured several times over, all conceivable problems could be handled, all eventualities were prepared for, they said.”

“The disaster at Fushima shows: It’s simply not true.”

“It is unlikely to be a coincidence that it was an old reactor with a design from the 1960s that got into trouble. The technology of this type of plant, which also operates in Germany, is outdated. Its safety level is significantly below that of modern nuclear plants, they wouldn’t get construction approval these days. The accident has reinforced the lessons to be drawn from this: The plants that were originally intended for a lifespan of 40 years must not have their lifetimes extended, as is being done everywhere both in the West and the East — because it yields major profits for the operators.”

“On the contrary: the old reactors in particular must be taken off the grid as soon as possible. Germany realized that more than a decade ago, when the center-left government negotiated the nuclear phaseout with the power companies. For the center-right risk prolongers in Berlin, Fukushima is the writing on the wall, whether they’re ready to realize that or not.”

“The radioactive fallout from Fukushima won’t hit Germany, but the political fallout has already arrived. People are alarmed and there is major uncertainty about ‘peaceful’ nuclear power, not just among diehard anti-nuclear campaigners.”

— David Crossland


Fukushima Fallout: Next Few Days Critical

4:50pm UK, Sunday March 13, 2011

Natalie Fahy and Katie Cassidy, Sky News Online

Nuclear experts have warned the next few days will be crucial in determining exactly how bad the fallout from the Fukushima power plant disaster could be.

They say advanced Japanese engineering at the 40-year-old facility will avoid a Chernobyl-style disaster, but any radiation leak could still have disastrous consequences.

During Friday’s megaquake most of Japan’s 50 nuclear power stations shut down as expected, but at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear plant the system failed.

A hydrogen blast at its number one reactor has destroyed part of the building but did not prompt a major radiation leak.

However, experts have warned there could be a second explosion at the plant’s number three reactor.

Reactors convert the energy stored in nuclear fuel rods into electricity, and in doing so generate immense heat.

Water is circulated through the reactor core to keep the fuel rods from overheating.

In case of an emergency each power station has a back-up system to keep reactors cool.

But during the quake – which has been upgraded to 9 on the Richter scale – power at the Fukushima facility was lost and the back-up system failed.

Diesel generators should have kicked in to provide emergency cooling, but they were also damaged and coolant stopped circulating.

The remaining water is likely to eventually boil away, exposing the fuel rods.

If a cooling system is not restored, it could lead to what is known as a meltdown – when the core melts and radiation escapes into the atmosphere.

Officials were now pumping seawater into reactor number three to keep its temperature down.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said radiation levels at the Fukushima plant had risen above the safety limit but there was no “immediate threat” to humans.

Chernobyl was a very big accident and this is certainly not on that scale.

Professor Gerry Thomas, director of the Chernobyl tissue bank at Imperial College London

Despite this, a 12m exclusion zone has been set up around the facility and some 140,000 people have been moved from the area.

Evacuees were being tested for radiation at screening centres and authorities prepared to distribute iodine to protect people from any radioactive exposure.

Gerry Thomas, director of the Chernobyl tissue bank at Imperial College London, explained why iodine is needed in the body.

“The thyroid actually takes up iodine to make the thyroid hormones. It remains in the gland and the tissues in the thyroid,” she said.

“It is important to get stable iodine into the thyroid gland to prevent the uptake of radioactive iodine.

“It is extremely unlikely there will be a significant release (of radioactive iodine from the Fukushima plant).”

Nuclear Consultant John Large On Fukushima Fears

In small doses, such as during an X-ray, radiation causes no harm to humans.

But if radioactive particles should enter the body in large doses, health risks range from vomiting, hair loss and in extreme cases, cancer.

But Professor Thomas said the Japanese appeared to be monitoring the situation closely and taking precautionary measures.

“We won’t see any problems from this reactor. The release is tiny and likely to remain so, so I don’t think we need to worry,” she said.

“Chernobyl was a very big accident and this is certainly not on that scale.

“You need quite a large release of radioactive iodine to do any significant damage.”


Chernobyl: The site of the world’s worst nuclear accident

In 1986, the explosion of reactor number four at Ukraine’s Chernobyl plant was the world’s worst nuclear incident, immediately contaminating 200 people and killing 32 within three months.

Hundreds of thousands of people are thought to have suffered the after-effects of the leak.

The accident was only revealed after a giant radioactive cloud was registered moving across northern Europe.

It was marked at the maximum level seven on the IAEA’s scale of nuclear accidents.

Further contamination was reported from Chernobyl in 1995 during the removal of fuel from one of the plant’s reactors.

Professor Robin Grimes, from the Centre for Nuclear Engineering, told Sky News the Chernobyl plant was an old Russian design which had a completely different structure to Fukushima.


Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania

“The plants in Japan are light water reactors so they work on a very different principle,” he said.

“The type of problems that one might anticipate will be quite different to Chernobyl.”

He added that the Fukushima incident was more on the scale of the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, which was registered at five.

Then, 140,000 people were evacuated after the reactor’s core suffered a partial meltdown.

Although there was contamination within the plant, there was none outside and no casualties.

Japan has experienced the only two deadly nuclear accidents since Chernobyl – one in Tokaimura in 1999 which killed two workers and another in Mihama in 2004 which resulted in four deaths.

Tokaimura is Japan’s worst nuclear accident to date, exposing more than 600 people to radiation.


Fukushima DAY 3 – Downwind from Destruction

Japan’s Nuclear Meltdown, Aftershocks & Fallout

Nuclear Plant Designer Says Japanese Government Suppressing Scale Of Crisis

BBC News
Sunday, March 13, 2011

A former nuclear power plant designer has said Japan is facing an extremely grave crisis and called on the government to release more information, which he said was being suppressed. Masashi Goto told a news conference in Tokyo that one of the reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was “highly unstable”, and that if there was a meltdown the “consequences would be tremendous”. He said such an event might be very likely indeed. So far, the government has said a meltdown would not lead to a sizeable leak of radioactive materials.

Japan races to avert multiple nuclear meltdowns

Associated Press
March 13, 2011

(AP:KORIYAMA, Japan) Japan’s nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 170,000 people evacuated the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination.

Nuclear plant operators were frantically trying to keep temperatures down in a series of nuclear reactors _ including one where officials feared a partial meltdown could be happening Sunday _ to prevent the disaster from growing worse.

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Radiation Increases as Cooling Systems Fail at Fukushima Plant in Japan

Tsuyoshi Inajima and Yuji Okada
March 13, 2011

Japanese officials battling to prevent a potential meltdown at a nuclear power station said an explosion was possible at a second reactor building after the plant’s cooling system failed.

Water levels temporarily fell at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant 135 miles north of Tokyo, raising the possibility of a hydrogen explosion, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said in Tokyo today.

Asia’s largest utility is battling to prevent a meltdown of two reactors at the nuclear power station by flooding them with water and boric acid to eliminate the potential for a catastrophic release of radiation into the atmosphere.

Monster aftershock could strike within days

Sydney Morning Herald
March 13, 2011

NORTH-EASTERN Japan can expect another monster earthquake large enough to trigger a tsunami within days, the head of the Australian Seismological Centre says.

The director, Kevin McCue, said there had been more than 100 smaller quakes since Friday, but a larger aftershock was likely.

”Normally they happen within days,” he said. ”The rule of thumb is that you would expect the main aftershock to be one magnitude smaller than the main shock, so you would be expecting a 7.9.

Japan Fears Second Reactor Blast

BBC News
Sunday, March 13, 2011

There is a risk of a second explosion at the quake-hit Fukushima power station, Japanese officials have said.

However, chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano said the facility could withstand the impact and the nuclear reactor itself would not be damaged.

Another reactor at Fukushima nuke plant loses cooling functions

Kyodo News
March 13, 2011

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday another reactor of its quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plants had lost its cooling functions, while at least 15 people at a nearby hospital were found to have been exposed to radioactivity.

The utility supplier notified the government early Sunday morning that the No. 3 reactor at the No. 1 Fukushima plant had lost the ability to cool the reactor core. The reactor is now in the process of releasing radioactive steam, according to top government spokesman Yukio Edano.

U.S. West Coast in Path of Fallout

“If There Were a Reactor Meltdown or Major Leak at Fukushima, the Radioactive Cloud Would Likely be Blown Out … Towards the US West Coast”

Washington’s Blog
March 13, 2011

Agence-France Presse notes:

California is closely monitoring efforts to contain leaks from a quake-damaged Japanese nuclear plant, a spokesman said Saturday, as experts said radiation could be blown out across the Pacific.

Quake moved Japan coast 8 feet; shifted Earth’s axis

Ken Voigt
March 12, 2011

The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.

“At this point, we know that one GPS station moved (8 feet), and we have seen a map from GSI (Geospatial Information Authority) in Japan showing the pattern of shift over a large area is consistent with about that much shift of the land mass,” said Kenneth Hudnut, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

Tsunami warning center raises magnitude of Japan quake to 9.1

Ken Kobayahshi
Honolulu Star-Advertiser
March 12, 2011

The Japan earthquake was the fourth most powerful ever recorded with a magnitude of 9.1, twice more powerful than the initial estimate of 8.9, Gerard Fryer, geophysicist of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, said this morning.

Three others that were more powerful since the late 1800s when seismometers started measuring ground motions were in 9.5 in Chile in 1960, 9.2 in Alaska in 1964 and 9.1 in Sumatra in 2004, according to Fryer.

In this handout image provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), model runs from the Center for Tsunami Research at the NOAA Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory show the expected wave heights of the tsunami as it travels across the Pacific basin March 11, 2011. The largest wave heights are expected near the earthquake epicenter, off Japan. The wave will decrease in height as it travels across the deep Pacific but grow taller as it nears coastal areas. In general, as the energy of the wave decreases with distance, the near shore heights will also decrease (e.g., coastal Hawaii will not expect heights of that encountered in coastal Japan).


Shirakawa, Japan (CNN) — Japanese authorities are operating on the presumption that possible meltdowns are under way at two nuclear reactors, a government official said Sunday, adding that there have been no indications yet of hazardous emissions of radioactive material into the atmosphere.

The attempts to avert a possible nuclear crisis, centered around the Fukushima Daiichi facility in northeast Japan, came as rescuers frantically scrambled to find survivors following the country’s strongest-ever earthquake and a devastating tsunami that, minutes later, brought crushing walls of water that wiped out nearly everything in their paths.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters there is a “possibility” of a meltdown at the plant’s No. 1 reactor, adding, “It is inside the reactor. We can’t see.” He then added that authorities are also “assuming the possibility of a meltdown” at the facility’s No. 3 reactor.

A meltdown is a catastrophic failure of the reactor core, with a potential for widespread radiation release.

The efforts to control the temperature of atomic material, by pumping in sea water and boron, are taking place at the same facility where four were hurt late Saturday in an explosion. Edano said only a “minor level” of radiation has been released into the environment — saying it all came from a controlled release of radioactive steam, insisting there have been no leaks.

“We do not believe it is harmful to human health,” he said.

About 180,000 people are being evacuated from within 10 to 20 kilometers (6 to 12 miles) of the Daiichi plant — which is in addition to the thousands that have already been taken away who live closer by. More than 30,000 more people were being evacuated from their homes within 10 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiini nuclear facility located in the same prefecture.

The news of the possible meltdowns came as rescue efforts resumed Sunday morning in areas devastated by the 8.9-magnitude quake and subsequent tsunami, which unleashed a wall of seawater that decimated entire neighborhoods.

Rescuers dug through mud and rubble to find the buried, both alive and dead. Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan said more than 3,000 people have been rescued, according to the nation’s Kyodo News Agency, some of them plucked from collapsed homes, muddy water and burning debris.

Police wearing protective clothing and respirators head towards the the nuclear plant in Minamisouma City, Fukushima Prefecture yesterday

While the official death toll from Japan’s National Police Agency was at 763, with 639 missing and 1,419 people injured. The actual toll is thought to be much higher, with Japanese public broadcaster NHK reporting more than 900 dead and Kyodo News Agency saying the death toll could top 1,800.

The number is expected to rise as rescuers reach more hard-hit areas. In one coastal town alone — Minamisanriku, in Myagi Prefecture — some 9,500 people, half the town’s population, were unaccounted for, Kyodo reported.

With most stores and gas stations closed, a main task for many in the hardest-hit areas Sunday morning was getting by — and, in some cases, getting out. Scores lined up at the few gas stations, drug stores and grocery stores that had opened, with the shelves largely empty amid the rush to get food and the difficulty in restocking it.

They also braved an seemingly endless barrage of aftershocks. The U.S. Geological Survey reported more than 140 such quakes — magnitude 4.5 and higher, including a 6.2-magnitude quake just before 10:30 a.m. Sunday — in, near or off of the east coast of the Japanese island.

Friday’s quake was centered about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from Sendai. The city, with a population of about a million, is located in a farming region already battling youth population losses to big cities, leaving aging residents struggling to keep up with the global economy.

While there was little visible damage in that city, the devastation — most of it caused by the tsunami, which reached several miles inland — was readily apparent in coastal areas.

In the city of Shirakawa, south of Sendai, rescuers dug through rubble with shovels to try to reach 13 neighbors trapped when the earth opened up and swallowed their homes.

Relatives and friends stood in the cold, with temperatures near freezing overnight, quietly watching, praying and waiting. Others wept.

In other affected areas, military choppers plucked people from rooftops. In some cases, rescuers trudged in muddy water, carrying survivors on their backs. Weary, mud-spattered residents wandered through streets filled with crumpled cars and other debris.

Meanwhile, millions more around Japan were dealing with other repurcussions of Friday’s quake.

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The quake disrupted rail service and affected air travel. Flight cancellations left at least 23,000 people stranded in two Tokyo airports, Kyodo said. Departing and arriving flights resumed Saturday. Limited rail service also was back in operation Saturday.

Tokyo’s Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea will close for 10 days, Kyodo News Agency reported, one of a host of closings, cancellations and other disruptions in the quake’s aftermath.

About 2.5 million households — just over 4% of the total in Japan — were without electricity Sunday, according to Fujisaki, the nation’s U.S. ambassador. This marks a steep drop from the previous number, when 6 million households had no power.

A desire to conserve power prompted decisions to turn off lights Saturday at a host of landmarks all around Japan — some of them hundreds of miles from the main quake’s epicenter, like the Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka, Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo, and Bay Bridge in Yokohama, the Kyodo News Agency reported.

Japan plans to dispatch 100,000 members of its Self-Defense Forces to the quake-ravaged region — double the previous number — Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa said Sunday, according to the Kyodo News Agency.

Japan’s government also has made a formal request for U.S.aid, including military support, and full planning for deployment is in effect, with the U.S. military in Japan taking the lead, according to Sgt. Maj. Stephen Valley with U.S. Forces Japan.

The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, along with a guided-missile cruiser and destroyer ship, arrived off Japan’s coast Sunday morning to support Japanese forces in disaster relief operations, the U.S. Department of Defense said in a statement.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has sent two search and rescue teams, from Virginia and California. Those teams, of about 150 people and 12 rescue dogs trained to find survivors, were expected to arrive Sunday morning and immediately begin working alongside Japanese and international teams.

At least 48 other countries and the European Union also have offered relief to Japan, and supplies and personnel are already on the way.

The quake was the latest in a series around Japan last week.

On Wednesday, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Honshu, the country’s meteorological agency said. Early Thursday, an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3 struck off the same coast.

Friday’s quake is the strongest earthquake in recorded history to hit Japan, according to U.S. Geologic Survey records that date to 1900.

The world’s largest recorded quake took place in Chile on May 22, 1960, with a magnitude of 9.5, the USGS said.

CNN’s Tom Watkins, Anna Coren, Kyung Lah, Paula Hancocks, Brian Walker, Kevin Voigt and Sean Morris contributed to this report.


Eric Talmadge And Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press – 2 hrs 37 mins ago

KORIYAMA, Japan – The U.N. nuclear agency says Japan has declared a state of emergency at another earthquake-affected nuclear plant where higher-than-permitted levels of radioactivity were measured.

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Japan informed it that the source of the radioactivity at the Onagawa power plant is being investigated. It said all three reactors at the plant are under control.

Japan also said authorities at another plant have resorted to using sea water to cool a second reactor in an attempt to prevent a meltdown.

Japan said earlier attempts to cool the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant had failed. Sea water is also being used to cool the plant’s No. 1 reactor.

Sea water is corrosive and is being used as a last resort.


KORIYAMA, Japan (AP) — Japan’s nuclear crisis intensified Sunday as authorities raced to combat the threat of multiple reactor meltdowns and more than 170,000 people evacuated the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where fears spread over possible radioactive contamination.

Nuclear plant operators were frantically trying to keep temperatures down in a series of nuclear reactors — including one where officials feared a partial meltdown could be happening Sunday — to prevent the disaster from growing worse.

AFP/Yomiuri Shimbun

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano also said Sunday that a hydrogen explosion could occur at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, the latest reactor to face a possible meltdown. That follows a blast the day before in the power plant’s Unit 1, and operators attempted to prevent a meltdown there by injecting sea water into it.

“At the risk of raising further public concern, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion,” Edano said. “If there is an explosion, however, there would be no significant impact on human health.”

More than 170,000 people had been evacuated as a precaution, though Edano said the radioactivity released into the environment so far was so small it didn’t pose any health threats.

“First I was worried about the quake,” Kenji Koshiba, a construction worker who lives near the plant. “Now I’m worried about radiation.” He spoke at an emergency center in Koriyama town near the power plant in Fukushima.

The French Embassy urged its citizens Sunday to leave the area around Tokyo — 170 miles (270 kilometers) from Fukushima Dai-ichi — in case the crisis deepened and a “radioactive plume” headed for the area around the capital. The statement acknowledged that the possibility was looking unlikely.

Edano said none of the Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors was near the point of complete meltdown, and he was confident of escaping the worst scenarios.

A complete meltdown — the collapse of a power plant’s ability to keep temperatures under control — could release uranium and dangerous contaminants into the environment and pose major, widespread health risks.

Up to 160 people, including 60 elderly patients and medical staff who had been waiting for evacuation in the nearby town of Futabe, and 100 others evacuating by bus, might have been exposed to radiation, said Ryo Miyake, a spokesman from Japan’s nuclear agency. The severity of their exposure, or if it had reached dangerous levels, was not clear. They were being taken to hospitals.

Edano said operators were trying to cool and decrease the pressure in the Unit 3 reactor, just as they had the day before at Unit 1.

“We’re taking measures on Unit 3 based on a similar possibility” of a partial meltdown, Edano said.

Japan struggled with the nuclear crisis as it tried to determine the scale of the Friday disasters, when an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the most powerful in the country’s recorded history, was followed by a tsunami that savaged its northeastern coast with breathtaking speed and power.

More than 1,400 people were killed and hundreds more were missing, according to officials, but police in one of the worst-hit areas estimated the toll there alone could eventually top 10,000.

The scale of the multiple disasters appeared to be outpacing the efforts of Japanese authorities to bring the situation under control more than two days after the initial quake.

Rescue teams were struggling to search hundreds of miles (kilometers) of devastated coastline, and hundreds of thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centers cut off from rescuers and aid. At least 1.4 million households had gone without water since the quake, and food and gasoline were quickly running out across the region. Large areas of the countryside were surrounded by water and unreachable. Some 2 million households were without electricity.

Japanese Trade Minister Banri Kaieda warned that the region was likely to face further blackouts, and power would be rationed to ensure supplies to essential facilities.

The government doubled the number of troops pressed into rescue and recovery operations to about 100,000 from 51,000, as powerful aftershocks continued to rock the country. Hundreds have hit since the initial temblor.

Unit 3 at the Fukushima plant is one of three reactors there that had automatically shut down and lost cooling functions necessary to keep fuel rods working properly due to a power outage from the quake. The facility’s Unit 1 is also in trouble, but Unit 2 has been less affected.

On Saturday, an explosion destroyed the walls of Unit 1 as operators desperately tried to prevent it from overheating and melting down.

Without power, and with its valves and pumps damaged by the tsunami, authorities resorted to drawing sea water mixed with boron in an attempt to cool the unit’s overheated uranium fuel rods. Boron disrupts nuclear chain reactions.

The move likely renders the 40-year-old reactor unusable, said a foreign ministry official briefing reporters. Officials said the sea water will remain inside the unit, possibly for several months.

Robert Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and former senior policy adviser to the U.S. secretary of energy, told reporters that the sea water was a desperate measure.

“It’s a Hail Mary pass,” he said.

He said that the success of using sea water and boron to cool the reactor will depend on the volume and rate of their distribution. He said the dousing would need to continue nonstop for days.

Another key, he said, was the restoration of electrical power, so that normal cooling systems can operate.

Edano said the cooling operation at Unit 1 was going smoothly after the sea water was pumped in.

Operators released slightly radioactive air from Unit 3 on Sunday, while injecting water into it hoping to reduce pressure and temperature to prevent a possible meltdown, Edano said.

He said radiation levels just outside the plant briefly rose above legal limits, but since had declined significantly. Also, fuel rods were exposed briefly, he said, indicating that coolant water didn’t cover the rods for some time. That would have contributed further to raising the temperature in the reactor vessel.

At an evacuation center in Koriyama, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) from the troubled reactors and 125 miles (190 kilometers) north of Tokyo, medical experts had checked about 1,500 people for radiation exposure in an emergency testing center, an official said.

On Sunday, a few dozen people waited to be checked in a collection of blue tents set up in a parking lot outside a local gymnasium. Fire engines surrounded the scene, with their lights flashing.

Many of the gym’s windows were shattered by the quake, and glass shards littered the ground.

A steady flow of people — the elderly, schoolchildren and families with babies — arrived at the center, where they were checked by officials wearing helmets, surgical masks and goggles.

Officials placed five reactors, including Units 1 and 3 at Dai-ichi, under states of emergency Friday after operators lost the ability to cool the reactors using usual procedures.

An additional reactor was added to the list early Sunday, for a total of six — three at the Dai-ichi complex and three at another nearby complex. Local evacuations have been ordered at each location. Japan has a total of 55 reactors spread across 17 complexes nationwide.

Officials began venting radioactive steam at Fukushima Dai-ichi’s Unit 1 to relieve pressure inside the reactor vessel, which houses the overheated uranium fuel.

Concerns escalated dramatically Saturday when that unit’s containment building exploded.

Officials were aware that the steam contained hydrogen and were risking an explosion by venting it, acknowledged Shinji Kinjo, spokesman for the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, but chose to do so because they needed to keep circulating cool water on the fuel rods to prevent a meltdown.

Officials insisted there was no significant radioactive leak after the explosion.

If a full-scale meltdown were to occur, experts interviewed by The Associated Press said melted fuel would eat through the bottom of the reactor vessel, then through the floor of the containment building. At that point, the uranium and dangerous byproducts would start escaping into the environment.

Eventually, the walls of the reactor vessel — six inches (15 centimeters) of stainless steel — would melt into a lava-like pile, slump into any remaining water on the floor, and potentially cause an explosion that would enhance the spread of radioactive contaminants.

If the reactor core became exposed to the outside, officials would likely began pouring cement and sand over the entire facility, as was done at the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident in the Ukraine, Peter Bradford, a former commissioner of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told reporters.

Another expert, physicist Ken Bergeron, told reporters that as a result of such a meltdown the surrounding land would be off-limits for a long time and “a lot of first responders would die.”


Yamaguchi reported from Tokyo. Associated Press writers Tomoko A. Hosaka in Tokyo, Jeff Donn in Boston and Jamey Keaten in Paris contributed to this report.


Japan’s nuclear nightmare: Fears of second explosion at quake-hit N-plant as exclusion zone stretches to 13 miles

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 6:16 PM on 13th March 2011

* Second nuclear power plant now in state of emergency
* Exclusion zone widened to 13 miles at Fukushima as radiation levels rise
* Reactor 3 has lost its cooling system forcing officials to use sea water
* 170,000 people evacuated from area near plant
* Up to 160 people so far exposed to radiation

Japan’s nuclear crisis was growing today amid the threat of multiple meltdowns, as more than 170,000 people were evacuated from the quake- and tsunami-savaged northeastern coast where police fear more than 10,000 people may have already died.

A partial meltdown was already likely to be under way at one nuclear reactor, a top official said, and operators were frantically trying to keep temperatures down at the power plant’s other units as fears of a second explosion at the facility grew.

As the exclusion zone around the facility was widened to more than 13 miles today, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said that a hydrogen explosion could occur at Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, the reactor that could be melting down.

That would follow a blast the day before in the power plant’s Unit 1, as operators attempted to prevent a meltdown by injecting sea water into it.
Smoke rising from the Fukushima Dai-ichi number one nuclear plant after a blast in Unit 1 on Friday

Smoke rising from the Fukushima Dai-ichi number one nuclear plant after a blast in Unit 1 on Friday
The damaged roof of reactor number 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant after an explosion that blew off the upper part of the structure

The damaged roof of reactor number 1 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant after an explosion that blew off the upper part of the structure

Today a second power plant was also in a state of emergency as a result of the earthquake.

A cooling pump stopped working at Tokai Number Two plant, located about 75 miles north of Tokyo, the site of a nuclear accident in 1999.

‘At the risk of raising further public concern, we cannot rule out the possibility of an explosion,’ Edano said speaking about Fukushima.

‘If there is an explosion, however, there would be no significant impact on human health.’
Map of Japan locating nuclear facilities and radius of a nuclear plant where a explosion occurred on Saturday

More than 170,000 people had been evacuated as a precaution, though Edano said the radioactivity released into the environment so far was so small it didn’t pose any health threats.

A complete meltdown – the collapse of a power plant’s systems and its ability to keep temperatures under control – could release uranium and dangerous contaminants into the environment and pose major, widespread health risks.

Up to 160 people, including 60 elderly patients and medical staff who had been waiting for evacuation in the nearby town of Futabe, and 100 others evacuating by bus, might have been exposed to radiation, said Ryo Miyake, a spokesman from Japan’s nuclear agency.


* Day the Earth moved: How the earthquake tilted the world’s axis by 25cm (and could even cost us a microsecond a day)
* The town that drowned: Fresh pictures from the port where 9,500 people are missing after it was swept away by the megaquake
* The tottering towers of Tokyo: Dramatic videos show the moment the earthquake struck
* Moment we feared another Chernobyl: Thousands undergo radioactive screening after explosion in nuclear power station

Workers in protective clothing were scanning people arriving at evacuation centres for radioactive exposure. Three workers have so far been treated for radiation sickness after the explosion in the reactor building and locals have been offered iodine to help protect against radiation exposure.

Edano told reporters that a partial meltdown in Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant was ‘highly possible’.

Asked whether a partial meltdown had occurred, Edano said that ‘because it’s inside the reactor, we cannot directly check it but we are taking measures on the assumption’ that it had.

Japan struggled with the nuclear crisis as it tried to determine the scale of the Friday disasters, when an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, the most powerful in the country’s recorded history, was followed by a tsunami that savaged its northeastern coast with breathtaking speed and power.

At least 1,000 people were killed – including some 200 bodies discovered today along the coast – and 678 were missing, according to officials, but police in one of the worst-hit areas estimated the toll there alone could eventually top 10,000.

The scale of the multiple disasters appeared to be outpacing the efforts of Japanese authorities to bring the situation under control more than two days after the initial quake.

Rescue teams were struggling to search hundreds of miles of devastated coastline, and thousands of hungry survivors huddled in darkened emergency centres cut off from rescuers and aid.

At least a million households had gone without water since the quake, and food and gasoline were quickly running out across the region. Large areas of the countryside were surrounded by water and unreachable. Some 2.5 million households were without electricity.
Officials in protective gear check today for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the nuclear plant

Officials in protective gear check today for signs of radiation on children who are from the evacuation area near the nuclear plant

Japanese Trade Minister Banri Kaeda warned that the region was likely to face further blackouts, and power would be rationed to ensure supplies to essential facilities.

The government doubled the number of troops pressed into rescue and recovery operations to about 100,000 from 51,000, as powerful aftershocks continued to rock the country. Hundreds have hit since the initial temblor.

Unit 3 at the Fukushima plant is one of the three reactors that had automatically shut down and lost cooling functions necessary to keep fuel rods working properly due to power outage from the quake. The facility’s Unit 1 is also in trouble, but Unit 2 has been less affected.

Yesterday, an explosion destroyed the walls of Unit 1 as operators desperately tried to prevent it from overheating and melting down.


Latest BBC News coverage

* A large explosion has occurred at the Fukushima No. I nuclear power plant in north-eastern Japan, close to the epicentre of Friday’s earthquake. Officials say the container housing the reactor was not damaged, and sea water is being pumped in to cool it. But there are now problems with a second reactor at the same plant. Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area
* A mammoth relief operation has swung into action to help those affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. The military has mobilised thousands of troops, 300 planes and 40 ships
* Officials say more than 1,300 people are thought to have died, with fears that the death toll could rise significantly. One of the worst-hit areas was the port city of Sendai
* Police say 300,000 people have fled their homes, and there are reports that whole villages have been swept away
* The 8.9 magnitude tremor has been confirmed as the fifth strongest to occur anywhere in the world in the past 100 years. More than 50 aftershocks – many of them more than magnitude 6.0 – have also been reported

*reporters: Aidan Lewis, Victoria King, Peter Jackson, Philippa Fogarty, Joe Boyle and Patrick Jackson
* All times in GMT

We’re told not to breathe the air – it’s scary’

David McNeill ventures out from the capital towards Fukushima, where an explosion hit the power plant. He made it as far as Iwaki city

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Tokyo is crawling unsteadily back on its feet. Its buildings are intact, its vast transport network is creaking back to life, cellphones are working again – patchily. Planes land in the main international airports, but traffic crawls through the streets. The government projects weary control from the centre of the vast city

But the country outside the capital, along the Pacific coast to the northeast, has been knocked flat on its back. Battered by tsunamis, rocked by a terrifying string of aftershocks, thousands of people bed down for the second night in makeshift refugee centres in schools and sports centres.

The world’s media has begun descending on the capital, looking to tell this story. And 300 kilometres north of Tokyo comes the biggest story of all: a fire at a nuclear plant that could potentially rival the twin nuclear disasters of Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986. Getting there, over roads buckled and warped by Friday’s huge quake, is an ordeal. With two of my colleagues, we rent a car and begin the long journey through Tokyo’s clogged traffic, then on to almost empty highways toward Iwaki city in Fukushima Prefecture, as close to the plant as we can get. As we drive, we listen to live reports on the state broadcaster NHK, which says the Fukushima No 1 plant has started to go into meltdown.
Related articles

* Towns vanish, thousands die – but a nation begins its fightback
* Nuclear reactor meltdown ‘likely’ says official
* Fears of radioactive leak after blast rips through complex
* Q&A: The day the Earth moved, and a nation’s east coast shifted by 2.4 metres
* Japan looks for market stability after quake
* Hamish McRae: The cost of catastrophe and unrest is huge in both human and economic terms
* UK team joins Japan earthquake rescue efforts
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It is terrifying news, filtered through the oddly emotionless tones of a professional translator. It’s the first time the reactor core of a nuclear plant has melted in Japan, the announcer informs us. An explosion has torn the roof from the complex. Radiation has leaked into the atmosphere. Twenty thousand people within 10km (6.2 miles) of the plant have been told to evacuate. At teatime, the Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, announces to millions of Japanese that the safety perimeter has been extended to 20km.

Japan’s technological confidence has been shattered by quakes before. In 1995, the Great Hanshin earthquake, with its famous images of toppled highways and collapsed buildings, killed 5,000 people, injured more than 400,000 and brought global humiliation to a country proud of its construction prowess. Four years ago, another huge quake struck almost underneath the world’s largest nuclear power plant in Niigata, sparking fires, leaks and a crippling shutdown. Officials were forced to admit that they had not known about the fault underneath the 8,200MW Kashiwazaki-Kariwa.

Most people want to believe Mr Kan when he says that the government is working hard this time to make sure “not a single resident will suffer any effects” from the radiation. But not Yoshi Watanabe, who lives with his wife and two young children about 135km from the Fukushima plant. “They don’t know what they’re doing,” he says. “They should extend the perimeter further, but they can’t because they can’t handle that scale of evacuation.”

The sun sinks behind the highway. We pass a convoy of fire engines and truckloads of self-defence force troops, on their way to the coast to help rebuild devastated villages. At an almost deserted service station, Chieko Matsumoto stands waiting for customers as NHK flickers live in the corner. The power plant is an hour away. “Not far enough,” she says. “We’ve been told not to go outside and breathe the air, to stay here and watch the TV. It’s just so scary.”

In pitch darkness we enter Iwaki City. Apart from a handful of cars, the streets are deserted. Restaurants and bars have been closed. The blinds have been pulled down in the local Denny’s. Even the 7-Eleven convenience store has shut its doors.

We spot a schoolgirl waking quickly in the dark. “I’m on my way to pick up my mother,” she tells us. “We’re going to the refugee centre. We’ve been told to stay indoors and not breath in the radioactivity.”

Then she hurries off.

The local municipal gymnasium has been converted into a makeshift shelter. Dozens of people are lying on futons and blankets, some clearly exhausted. A truck arrives bringing pot noodles, water and toilet roll.

“It’s our second night here,” says Tsukase Yoshida, 33. He fled with his family after the first tremors on Friday, which were so strong they knocked him off his feet. “Now this,” he says. “We heard rumours about the radiation before it was announced on the radio. My family are so tired.”

In a corner, Shun Moue, 22, and her boyfriend, Sugunori Sakuma, 24, cuddle to keep warm. “We saw the news of the plant leak on TV,” says Moue. “The quake was terrible, but I worry more about the plant. We get only limited information. Are they really going to be able to make it safe?”

Sakuma shrugs his shoulders. “They’re doing their best,” he says

On the radio, experts speculate on the worst-case scenario at the plant 30km up the coast. “If there’s no time to escape, I’ll just go home and lock myself in,” says Moue. “There probably wouldn’t be time to run away.”

Some day they plan to marry, perhaps have children. Will they feel safe raising them here? Sakuma frowns. “This is where my family is from,” he says. “Where else would I go?”

People inside the centre begin drifting off to sleep. News arrives that the container inside the reactor was undamaged in the explosion and that radiation levels are falling. Tiny and frail, Yoshiko Fukaya, 79, is wrapped in blankets that rise and fall with her breathing. She shrugs as she is told the news. “There’ll be something else,” she says. “There always is.”

The bloggers’ response: ‘I hope I won’t witness a Japanese Chernobyl’

“I am in Ichinoseki. The ground continues to shake quite strongly. The shops are all shut, there are no traffic lights working. However, people are moving slowly and taking it in turns to cross roads, which is very impressive! Our grandparents re-built Japan after the war and the growth was considered a miracle. We will work to re-build Japan in the same way again. Don’t give up Japan! Don’t give up Tohoku!”

Blog from a “Japanese celebrity”:


“I have bought enough bottled water … to last for three or four days before I need to start drinking urine …. The ATM is working again so I’ve got enough money. We are expecting the tectonic plates to go mental again any time soon. Indeed, we have had many aftershocks over the last day – about 30, as of three hours ago. In short, us Tokyoites are doing quite well compared to poor old Sendai. All the dodgy little fishing boats that give the city its character have either been destroyed or just vanished. I’m sad to say all the people in them won’t be seen alive again.”


“As I write this the shaking comes and goes a bit, but so small compared to the ones yesterday that I hardly even pay attention. On the whole, it was a quite good “wake up call” for me to start stocking up on supplies and get some safety plans in order for the family in case the next time, the epicentre is closer to Tokyo.”

http://foreignsalaryman. blogspot.com/

“There were people queueing outside the supermarket hours before it opened. I managed to buy a box of water but batteries and portable stoves are sold out. The shelves that would normally hold bread and instant noodles are empty. It is only one day since the earthquake but already the way people think is changing. In the supermarket you see people in their twenties with a list in hand buying supplies like water and batteries. Then you see people in their forties buying cup noodles, tins and toilet paper. There are more men in the supermarket than normal.”

Blogger Mirairara (A woman in her twenties)

http://blog.livedoor.jp/mirairara/ archives/2573712.html

“My host mother just informed me that they’re probably going to be turning off all power and water in the Tokyo area to help out the north east so she’s filled the bath tub and brought out extra blankets in preparation of a cold night. I hope I’m not going to be witness to a Japanese Chernobyl. Chiba’s oil refineries caught on fire and now they’re saying that if you go outside, bring an umbrella and raincoat and to cover all your skin in case it rains because the rain will bring over the shit from the refineries and it’ll be trouble if it touches your skin.”




2352The US navy’s 7th Fleet is assisting with the rescue operation off the coast. A spokesman, Commander Jeff Davies, outlined the fleet’s grim task for the BBC: “We have three destroyers that have joined the other two ships in (USS) Ronald Reagan’s battle group and are conducting at-sea searches of the debris field. A tremendous amount of debris was washed out to sea following the tsunami and they’re going to go through it very carefully and very methodically to make sure that if there are any survivors out there they are rescued, and likewise if there are any human remains that those are recovered.”

2331Janie Eudie’s husband, a US technician, was inside Fukushima No I when the quake struck. She explained what he experienced: “It was panic, a lot of panic going on. They’re used to little quakes while they’re on the job there, but this one was different – the ground started shaking and it was intense and everything was moving. And they knew something different and the local people began to get scared, which they took it from there that this is something that’s way out of the ordinary. And that’s when things started to fall from the ceiling, the glass, all the lights, and he said some of the ceiling and insulation all started falling and the debris was hitting them. And for the safety and all of this, they evacuated and they were just getting out as fast as possible.”

2326The Japanese cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, has been speaking on state TV. He said the third reactor at the Fukushima No. I plant was in danger but attempts were under way for a controlled release of air.

2318US nuclear experts warn that pumping sea water to cool a quake-hit Japanese nuclear reactor is an “act of desperation” that may foreshadow a Chernobyl-like disaster, AFP reports. “The situation has become desperate enough that they apparently don’t have the capability to deliver fresh water or plain water to cool the reactor and stabilise it, and now, in an act of desperation, are having to resort to diverting and using sea water,” said Robert Alvarez, who works on nuclear disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies.

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2314Niel Bowerman writes: “Yokohama now feels a world away from the devastation of the North. Here the emphasis is on saving energy, so there are fewer lights on the skyline than normal. The aftershocks keep rolling in, but as they are relatively small most people here just exchange a glance and then get on with what they were doing. I feel as though the aftermath has brought a renewed sense of community here. What has really impressed me is the speed at which train lines were checked and services have largely returned to normal. Some sections of track remain down, but you can get most anywhere by public transport again.”
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2313Japan is likely to suffer a temporary economic hit and then enjoy a boost from reconstruction but the cost of rebuilding will worsen its already worryingly high public debt burden, a Reuters analysis piece says. While few expect the damage to exceed that of the Kobe earthquake in 1995. when the economy shrank by 2% before rebounding even further, the concern is that Japan’s economy is much weaker today. It also is weighed down by the largest public debt among advanced economies, double the size of its $5tn gross domestic product.

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2309 David Williams in Tokyo writes: “Despite the severity of the earthquake, housing in Tokyo stood up well. We are still expecting a big aftershock so that kept us on edge through the night. The next problem is the supply of goods. I went to my local supermarket last night at 7pm and many of the shelves were uncharacteristically bare. In particular, water, instant food, batteries and toilet paper. Apparently there will be no deliveries today (usually there are on Sundays) or Monday, so for the time being at least the situation may well get worse.”
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2306Just a reminder for users outside Japan: the time difference with GMT is nine hours, so it is now 0806 local time.

2300The BBC’s Rachel Harvey reports from Sendai: Just passed huge queue for petrol. Lost count after 160 cars. Queue of people lining up outside 7/11 store and water tap in park.

2252Reuters: Operators are preparing to release radioactive steam from the number three reactor at Fukushima No. 1 plant, after the cooling system failed there

2236The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that the two experts it has sent to Japan are specialists in boiling water nuclear reactors, and part of a broader US aid team sent to the disaster zone.

2224A recap: Fukushima has two nuclear plants; Fukushima No. 1, which has six reactors (three of which were offline at the time of the quake) and Fukushima No. 2, which has four reactors.

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2215 Michael Sammler in Akita Prefecture, Japan writes: “Another aftershock just hit my apartment. During the earthquake, at the junior high school where I work, all the students knew what to do. The length of the shaking was unprecedented and after about two minutes of shaking we lost power. Not knowing how long power would be out, no one was sure if using gas to cook was OK or not. The biggest worry was how long, and how much food do we have.”
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2212Some clarification: It is the number three reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 plant where officials have just announced that the cooling system has failed. This morning’s blast took place at the number one reactor at the same plant. “All the functions to keep cooling water levels in No. 3 reactor have failed at the Fukushima No. 1 plant,” a spokesman for the operator said.

2157More on the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier that is off the Japanese coast. With a 3,200-strong crew and 2,480 air personnel on board, the US military says it will serve as a platform for refuelling Japanese and other helicopters involved in rescue efforts onshore.

2145Reuters: The number of people exposed to radiation near Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant could reach 160, an official from the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has said. Nine people have shown signs of possible exposure.

2141IAEA Director General Yukia Amano: “The IAEA’s emergency centre is working round the clock to monitor the situation and share information.”

2130AFP: The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it has sent two experts to Japan to help assist local authorities.

2123Reuters: The emergency cooling system is no longer functioning at the Fukushima No. 3 reactor, an official from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has told journalists.

2114The Japanese Red Cross says it has sent 62 teams including 400 doctors and nurses into the quake-hit area.

2109 PacificFleet tweets: “USS Ronald Reagan arrived off coast of Japan, expected to provide refuelling support to Japan SDF helos conducting relief ops.”

2055More on evacuations: According to an IAEA statement, 110,000 people have been moved away from Fukushima No. 1 plant. Another 30,000 have been evacuated from a 10km radius around Fukushima No. 2 plant. But full evacuation measures had not been completed.

2042Reuters: The IAEA says it has been told by Japan that 140,000 people have been evacuated from areas around two nuclear plants

2039Ian Hore-Lacy of the World Nuclear Association tells the BBC he believes the situation at the nuclear power plant – where sea water is being used to cool the reactor core – is under control: “The point is that the heat, decay heat from the fuel drops off very rapidly. So after an hour, an hour following the shut down, it’s down to about 2 or 3% I think. And after 24 hours it’s down to half a per cent. So the amount of heat you’ve got to cope with right now is a small fraction of what there was initially.”

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2030 Dominick Okamoto in Tokyo writes: “Transport remained affected today but is getting back to normal, albeit with reduced services. Lots of people seem to be stocking up on essentials and many stores have bare shelves. Many people are just so shocked by the images; it is a strange feeling in Tokyo – we were close enough to be badly shaken by the quake but seem a world away from the devastation that the tsunami has brought.”
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2023Reuters: The IAEA says the operator of the plant has confirmed that the primary containment vessel is intact following this morning’s blast.

2022Reuters: The IAEA says it has been told by Japan that levels of radioactivity near the Fukushima No. 1 plant have fallen in recent hours.

2019Tokyo Disneyland is to close for about 10 days for safety checks, its operator says.

2012 The Bank of Japan is to hold a policy meeting on Monday and has vowed to do its utmost to ensure financial market stability.

1958 More on power supply problems: Tokyo Electric Power Company, one of Japan’s major suppliers, has suggested it could carry out intentional power outages on a rotating basis to tackle the problem, Kyodo reports.

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1944 Twitter user @Kombu_s in Onagawa, Japan says in the Global Voices blog: “Well, I’m alive. The town is dead though, and my rooms are a mess.”

1938More on the effects of the quake around the world: In Peru, the mayor of the town of Pisco says tsunami waves damaged about 300 houses as they swept into the town square – about 400 people spent the night in tents, AFPs reports.

1928Japanese workers in masks and protective clothing are scanning evacuees from the Fukushima area for radiation exposure, Reuters reports. Seventeen-year-old Masanori Ono says: “There is radiation leaking out, and since the possibility (of exposure) is high, it’s quite scary.”

1927Across the Pacific, Chile has reopened its copper-exporting ports and recalled large ships that were sent out to sea to avoid the tsunami, but it warns fishermen to beware of continuing swells and currents, Reuters reports.

1917The lights have been turned off at some of Japan’s landmark buildings including the Tokyo Tower, Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka, Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo and Bay Bridge in Yokohama, to help save electricity after the loss of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the Kyodo agency reports.

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1847 Brittany Smith in Sendai, Japan writes: “I was teaching at school at the time of the quake, but I have since returned to my apartment. My electricity, gas, and water were shut off all day, but the power has recently turned back on. We’re still getting small quakes off and on here, but nothing nearly as strong as the first few.”
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1829 Chinita in Kyoto writes: “It’s been a really long and hard day for all Japan. Although I live in Kyoto where nothing happened, it’s really depressing. What will be next? How will Japan survive this disaster? Everything feels like a really bad dream.”
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1820The World Health Organisation says the public health risk from Japan’s radiation leak appears to be “probably quite low”: “We understand radiation that has escaped from the plant is very small in amount,” World Health Organisation spokesman Gregory Hartl told Reuters news agency.

1807If radiation has leaked from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, winds will likely blow it out over the Pacific Ocean, says the French Nuclear Safety Authority: “The wind direction for the time being seems to point the pollution towards the Pacific,” said Andre-Claude Lacoste, speaking in Paris.

1758For those who are in Japan and may be in quake-hit areas, the Japan Times has compiled a page of contact numbers and websites that residents who need information or assistance will find useful.

1749 Netfluence tweets: “My friends in Japan are struggling to find a way home – they were in a Tokyo hotel when the quake hit. Most mass transit is not working well.”

1739More from that unidentified official at Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on rating the incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant on the IAEA scale of 0-7: “Right now we are considering the accident should be rated four. The rating may be changed in accordance with the development of the condition.”

1731 Marcus Olaoire tweets: “Got word that my friends in Japan, in Sendai are alright. It’s a special type of relief.”

1724For more on the chain of events at the nuclear plant, take a look at a piece by our Environment Correspondent Richard Black which explains in more detail.

1717Rescue teams from several nations are on their way to Japan; the first, from South Korea, touched down about two hours ago. A team from the UK is due to depart later this evening.

1712Meanwhile the latest report from Kyodo news agency puts the official death toll from the disaster at 687, with another 650 people missing. But it is not clear whether this figure includes between 200-300 bodies being transferred to Sendai city.

1705A quick recap: There is continuing concern over the quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 reactor after a powerful explosion there early this morning. Japanese officials say the container housing the reactor was not damaged and that radiation levels have now fallen. But experts say it is not clear whether the situation is under control.

1652Residents and companies across Japan are being urged to save energy because of supply problems caused by damage to power generation facilities, The Japan Times reports. By noon on Saturday 5.1 million households in northern Japan remained without power, the paper said.

1640 kobutamama in Tokyo tweets: “My daughter was so calm and strong when the earthquake happened. But now she is so fragile. I am so worried.”

1631Some more: The International Nuclear Event Scale was developed in 1990 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The rating of 4 for the Fukushima plant incident comes from an as yet unidentified official at Japan’s nuclear safety agency, news wires report.

1622More information on that figure: The 1986 Chernobyl disaster was rated 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale; the 1979 Three Mile Island accident was rated 5.

1617AFP: Japan nuclear agency rates nuclear plant accident in Fukushima at 4 on 0-7 international scale.

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1615 Chris Hall in Tokyo writes: “I’m having trouble getting to sleep as there is an aftershock – small but big enough – every 10 minutes or so at the moment. The quake yesterday was the most frightening thing I have experienced. My partner and I ran out into the street and stood with other people from several buildings. Concrete walls bent and flexed as if they were made of rubber and I still can’t believe they didn’t snap or crumble. Near our flat there was a gas leak. My biggest worry is the nuclear plant. And it has been hard to get information.”
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1609The BBC’s Rachel Harvey in Sendai: “It is a very patchy picture – in the centre of the city there is power, traffic on the streets, but the shops are mostly closed and the place feels eerily quiet. If you drive out of the centre, there are areas in complete darkness. There are huge queues at every petrol station that is operating. I spoke to one man who said he had been in that queue for five hours. Now the station is rationing fuel to 20 litres per vehicle.”

1602 US nuclear expert Joseph Cirincione tells CNN the full picture of what it happening at the Fukushima No. 1 reactor has yet to emerge: “The big unanswered question here is whether there’s structural damage to this facility now. We saw the explosion early this morning. Are there other structural damages that may make a meltdown all but inevitable? We don’t have any information from the power company on that.”

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1555 Andrew Coad in Tokyo writes: “A strange hush still hangs over Tokyo with noticeably fewer cars on the roads. Taxis are operating and trains are getting back to normal schedules. Not such a good story in the stores – shopping today for bread, milk and water in several stores and there was none. The shelves are barren of all the key essentials as well as snack foods. Plenty of beer still, though.”
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1549A five-member South Korean rescue team has touched down in Japan, Kyodo says; the first international team to arrive.

1539Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin says Japan has requested more deliveries of coal and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to boost energy supplies: Reuters.

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1531 Paul Ashton in Okayama City, Japan writes: “I have just returned from Kumamoto Island, in the south west of Japan by car. The journey was about 500 km. We passed 50 to 60 Japanese Self-Defence Force vehicles travelling in convoy in the direction of east Japan. The vehicles were carrying huge supplies of water, many large electricity generators, gasoline and large earth moving machinery. The whole country is in shock.”
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1526Japanese Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto to attend a G-8 ministers’ summit in Paris next week but cancel trip to Britain: Kyodo.

1520 Journalist Mark MacKinnon tweets: “Watching Japanese TV, automated alerts warning of yet more aftershocks a regular part of the experience…”

1515Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says Russia will increase LNG supply from reserves on Sakhalin island to Japan if necessary: Reuters.

1511All available personnel, vehicles, aircraft and vessels of Japan’s Self Defence Force have been mobilised for relief efforts, up to a total deployment of 50,000, local media reports.

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1501 Rachel in Narita airport, Tokyo writes: “Right now I’m sitting in Narita airport, where I’ll be spending the night before catching my delayed plane back to Sydney. When the earthquake hit I was right in the middle of Shibuya. At first I thought I was going to faint until I sensed the hush that spread across the square, as all the usual music and traffic noise ceased. Despite my continued shock at the devastation, my overwhelming impression is of the admirable way in which the Japanese people have handled the aftermath.”
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1459At least three residents evacuated from a town near quake-hit Fukushima No. 1 plant have been exposed to radiation, both Kyodo and NHK report.

1454US Ambassador to Japan John Roos says America is “absolutely committed to helping Japan in any way possible”. Air Force personnel and Marines based on the island of Okinawa will be sent to help with the rescue effort.

1450Two bullet train lines have resumed operating, NHK reports, and local train lines in Tokyo are slowly returning to normal.

1443Kyodo News: The four workers injured in the blast at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are conscious and their injuries are not life-threatening.

1432NHK shows images from the centre of Sendai city, which appears to have suffered far less damage than its coastal suburbs.

1427More than 300,000 people have now been evacuated from homes in northern Japan and that number will rise as the government increases the exclusion zone around the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Kyodo reports.

1422A US navy vessel is loading aid supplies in Singapore and will sail for Japan shortly, NHK reports.

1416In Fukushima residents are lining up in town centres to collect drinking water as helicopters airlift the injured to hospital, Reuters reports.

1401 The BBC’s Rachel Harvey reports: “Stopped at fire station on edge of Sendai. Group of fire fighters said they have been looking for people all day. One small team among many, they said.”

1355 At least 1.4m homes are without water following the quake, according to government officials. 59 water trucks have been sent to the worst-hit areas. Some 3m are without power and utility companies say it will take some time to restore supplies.

1349 A team from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences has been despatched to Fukushima as a precaution, reports NHK. It is reportedly made up of doctors, nurses and other individuals with expertise in dealing with radiation exposure, and has been taken by helicopter to a base 5km from the nuclear plant.

1344 The Washington Post’s Chico Harlan tweets: “Big aftershock right now. Screen shaking as I type.”

1341 A bit more from Japanese PM Naoto Kan. He says more than 3,000 people have so far been rescued following the quake.

1335 Robert works in the Fukushima district. He contacted to the BBC describing his decision to leave the area: “We have heard that some areas of the prefecture have been evacuated, but we were not asked to leave. We were staying some 90km away from the power plant. But three friends and I decided we would feel a lot safer if we moved further away from the plant. So all four of us drove 45 minutes south, and are now staying in a hotel. I didn’t see any sign of panic on the roads, there seemed to be as much traffic travelling in the opposite direction. Things are disturbing because there is a lack of information. And as a foreigner it’s even harder to work out what is fact and what is hearsay.”

1330A magnitude 6 earthquake hit Fukushima at 2215 (1315GMT) on Saturday, Japan’s NHK reports.

1326The BBC’s Rachel Harvey reports: “Have reached Sendai. Downtown looks OK. Power, traffic moving. Couple of patches of glass damage. Train station is closed – yellow tape across entrance. Stopped at petrol station about 40km outside city – rationing. 20 litres per vehicle.”

1323From Kyodo news: 9,500 people unaccounted for in Miyagi’s Minamisanriku: local gov’t.

1320 Noriyuki Shikata, from Japanese PM’s office tweets: “TEPCO’s [Tokyo Electric Power Company] efforts to depressurize the container was successful. Additional measures are now taken tonight using sea water and boric acid. ”

1318Newsreader on Japan’s NHK says: “Right now we are feeling an aftershock.”

1316 Noriyuki Shikata, deputy cabinet secretary for public relations for the Japanese prime minister tweets: “Blast was caused by accumulated hydrogen combined with oxygen in the space between container and outer structure. No damage to container.”

1305The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Japanese authorities are making preparations to distribute iodine to residents in the area of both the Fukushima nuclear plants. The IAEA has reiterated its offer of technical assistance to Japan, should the government request this.

1257Peter Old, of search-and-rescue charity RapidUK, told the BBC’s World Service that while most people think of tsunamis as made of water, by the time the wave reaches inland, it is more like a mudslide. “Those people that would have been on the ground are likely not to have survived,” he said.

1254And Kyodo news has published photos of Rikuzentakata, where hundreds of people are feared dead. They show houses smashed to fragments – a scene of total devastation.

1252Japan’s Fuji TV has run a screen caption saying that as many as 10,000 people are missing in the town of Minamisanriku in Miyagi prefecture.

1235Meanwhile, a huge rescue and recovery operation is under way as Japan tries to deal with the aftermath of Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake, which has caused devastation in parts of the country. Stay with us for more minute-by-minute updates, reports from our correspondents on the ground, and your reaction from around the world. You can contact us via email, text or twitter.

1227So, attention has focused over the last few hours on the risk to two nuclear plants in north-eastern Japan, one of which was the site of a spectacular explosion that sent a cloud of dust and debris into the air. But officials say damage from the blast appears to be limited.

1218It seems clear now from Mr Edano’s comments that the nuclear plant building that was blown apart earlier did house a reactor, but the reactor was protected by its metal casing.

1216Government spokesman Yukio Edano says the pressure as well as the radiation at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant has fallen following this afternoon’s explosion.

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1214 Nick Gentle in Tokyo writes: “I just got off the phone with a friend who lives in Ibaraki, thankfully away from the coast. He’s about 150km from the power plant. He and his family are trying to follow the news and warnings on mobile phones as power has been cut so they cannot watch TV or check the internet. They have little water but feel safe because supply lines with Tokyo are still up and his town hasn’t suffered too much physical damage.”
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1211More from Japanese PM Naoto Kan. He says the government will do its best to make sure “not a single person will suffer health problems.”

1207 Voice of America’s Steve Herman tweets: “In Fukushima-ken. We have 3G mobile sig but no internet access. Most places have no water. Electricity on however.”

1202Government spokesman says the nuclear reactor container at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant has not been damaged, and the level of radiation has dropped following the explosion earlier on Saturday, AFP reports.

1157More from Damian Grammaticas in Sendai. “The streets are covered in mud that was swept inland. There are dozens and dozens of cars that were carried along, twisted and turned, and crushed by the wave. The gas and water have been cut off, fires burning are close to the seaside, and locals say hundreds of people died in this area.”

1151Damian Grammaticas has just arrived in Sendai. He says there are truly astonishing scenes of devastation at the harbour, there are shipping containers that have been swept inland and smashed against buildings and trees and rubble strewn across the streets.

1147Naoto Kan: Safety of people around the Fukushima nuclear plant is our number one priority – first we need to save lives, then we need to make it easier for people in shelters, based on experience from Kobe, he says. After that, reconstruction efforts.

1143Naoto Kan: More than 50-60 countries have expressed sympathies, US President Barack Obama has called.

1142Naoto Kan: “This is an unprecedented disaster that we are suffering.”

1141Prime Minister Naoto Kan urges people to take “responsible actions”, to listen to the media.

1138From the BBC’s Rachel Harvey: “Passing through outskirts of Yamagata. Long queues at petrol stations. Thick snow on the ground.”

1135Alan Margerison, a British businessman living in Tokyo, describes the scene there as relatively calm. “I went out into Shibuya, one of the downtown areas, it’s normally very busy on the weekend. Today there were not as many people around… there were people getting their hair done in the salons, I saw some people having their nails done. I think in Tokyo, people are trying to get back to life as it normally is, but they’re also very worried about the news they’re hearing.”

1128 Car manufacturer Toyota says it will suspend operations at all 12 of its factories in Japan on Monday while it confirms the safety of its employees. One of its subsidiaries, Central Motor Company, has a factory in Miyagi prefecture, near Sendai, which produces the Yaris model.

1125Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano also said that the current level of radioactivity at the power plant was “within the range that was anticipated” when it was decided that steam would be vented from the reactor to release pressure.

1122A full quote from Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano’s press conference: “As reported, we have been informed that there was some kind of an explosive phenomenon at Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant, although it has yet to be confirmed whether [the explosion] was that of a nuclear reactor itself. At present, after the talks among political party heads held a while ago, government officials including the prime minister and the minister of economy, trade, and industry, along with experts, are making all-out efforts to get hold of and analyse the situation, and to take measures.”

1112UK Foreign Secretary William Hague says he has spoken to his Japanese counterpart and offered help with search and rescue, and victim identification. He says further details of the UK’s assistance package will be announced later.

1110An attempt to explain the risk to the Fukushima nuclear plants following the earthquake: The plants are designed to shut down automatically, which halts the main nuclear fission reaction, but there is a residual amount of intense heat within the system. Back-up generators should kick in to power the cooling mechanisms needed to dissipate that heat – but if they fail, as appears to have happened here, temperatures rise. If this isn’t stopped, the reactor vessel itself could eventually melt and leak.

1103Japan’s Kyodo news is also reporting that the four people injured in the nuclear plant explosion are conscious and their injuries are not life-threatening.

1057Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says serious damage to the nuclear reactor container is unlikely despite the explosion at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant – Kyodo news.

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1052 Neil McKeown in Nakameguro, Tokyo writes: “The evacuation zone has been extended to 20km by the government. However TepCo [the Tokyo Electric Power Company] appeared in a news conference and promised to release new radioactivity readings after 6pm. It is now 7.30pm and they have not done so. People are getting extremely frustrated at the lack of news coming from TepCo and the government – they have yet to confirm if the building that suffered an explosion housed a reactor, and we have no indication how much radiation has been released or in what direction winds are blowing.”
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1047 Michael Cockerham in the UK tweets: “As someone who survived the Kobe quake, I have great sympathy with the people of Japan – my prayers are with you all. The Japanese government has clearly passed its first test and asked quickly for international help. In Kobe they delayed too long.”

1045BBC environment correspondent Roger Harrabin says local officials believe the release of radiation following the nuclear plant explosion is likely to be small. He adds that nuclear incidents aren’t always as serious as they may sound or appear, and actually, in terms of loss of life and destruction, accidents at hydroelectric plants are far more dangerous.

1040Japanese authorities say troops found between 300 and 400 bodies in the coastal city of Rikuzentakata, which was devastated by the tsunami – NHK.

1037 Sayaka Matsumoto, from the Red Cross in Tokyo, says the organisation has sent more than 60 medical teams – some 450 doctors and nurses – to the worst-hit area. Those who have arrived in Sendai have opened a tent clinic in front of the city’s main government building, she tells the BBC.

1023Japanese authorities are extending the evacuation zone around the two Fukushima nuclear plants from 10km to 20km, according to local media.

1021From the BBC’s Chris Hogg: “Driving through Ibaraki prefecture north east of Tokyo it’s clear vast swathes have no power. There are long queues at the few petrol stations openn as we approach the worst affected part of the prefecture. Presumably that’s for fuel for generators. We’re starting to see the first signs of damage. It’s taken six hours to make a journey that should take an hour or so. The highways are off limits to all but emergency vehicles, the police told us.”

1016The BBC’s environment correspondent Roger Harrabin says he understands the blast at the nuclear plant may have been caused by a hydrogen explosion – also one of the possibilities laid out by Walt Patterson of Chatham House. “If nuclear fuel rods overheat and then come into contact with water, this produces a large amount of highly-flammable hydrogen gas which can then ignite,” our correspondent says.

1011More from Walt Patterson of Chatham House. He says the presence of the radioactive caesium in the surrounding area does not pose a huge threat to public health in the immediate aftermath of the explosion. “What would be serious is if there was an explosion or fire that lifted this stuff high in the air, meaning it could get carried over a wide area.”

1009″This is starting to look a lot like Chernobyl” Walt Patterson, an associate fellow with Chatham House, has told the BBC after seeing pictures of the explosion at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant. “The nuclear agency says that they have detected caesium and iodine outside the unit, which certainly indicates fuel melting at the very least,” he says. “Once you have melting fuel coming into contact with water, that would almost certainly be the cause of the explosion.”

0957From Richard Black, BBC environment correspondent: “Although Japan has a long and largely successful nuclear power programme, officials have been less than honest about some incidents in the past, meaning that official re-assurances are unlikely to convince everyone this time round.”

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0951Lan Murata in Kaneyama writes: “The heater has gone off hours before and now it’s freezing. It was the biggest I ever felt. I always thought the earthquake drills were the waste of time at school. But I was wrong, I felt thankfulI that I didn’t panic, our family is lucky that we have a drawer full of emergency goods. My mum is one who survived the earthquake in 1995 in Kobe. Some of the boards are loose on the stairs. But I can’t move any further because a bookshelf is blocking the stairs.”
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0948Hirofumi Yokoyama, an official at Japan’s Meteorological Agency, says people living along the Pacific Coast should remain on alert: “The possibility of tsunami with a height of 10m or higher is getting slimmer but we’re still calling on people living along the coast of Tohoku region to be cautious because tsunami as high as three metres or more could still hit the area.”

0943Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has confirmed the explosion at Fukushima-Daiichi. “We are looking into the cause and the situation and we’ll make that public when we have further information,” he is quoted as saying by Reuters.

0937The BBC news website has an explainer on nuclear fuel reactors which includes a description of a water cooling system similar to the one that failed in Japan.

0927Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is investigating the explosion at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant. Meanwhile, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yuko Edano, has told journalists: “As to the evacuation of the residents, of course we will have to ascertain the level of the radiation and, of course, we will have to cope and take appropriate measures. But once we do the analysing and once we know the facts we will let you know.”

0923Before the explosion, the government had declared a state of emergency at five nuclear reactors after the generators pumping cooling water at the reactors failed.

0919So, just to recap, there are growing fears about damage to two Japanese nuclear plants following Friday’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake. There’s recently been an explosion at a building at one of the plants, which is called Fukushima-Daiichi, or Fukushima I. It’s not clear what the building contained.

0914Japanese authorities have extended the evacuation area at the Fukushima-Daini plant – also known as Fukushima II – to 10km, the same distance as for the Fukushima-Daiichi, or Fukushima I plant.

0908The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is urgently seeking information about the explosion at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant.

0905Japan’s NHK TV says officials measured the level of radiation at the entrance of the Fukushima-Daiichi plant at 1529 Japanese time. If people are exposed to this level of radiation for an hour they’d receive the same amount of radiation they normally would in a year, the report says.

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0859Tomoaki Furuno in Tokyo writes: “We Japanese appreciate offering of aid and heart-warming messages from the world. After the earthquake, I walked to the government offices to pick up my pregnant wife who works as a civil servant. I passed through thousands of people walking, because all trains stopped. We could not go get back home. Finally, I found something to eat and a building to stay in. We borrowed the blanket and stayed one night inside the building.”
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0857The BBC’s Nick Ravenscroft was on his way towards Fukushima, but about 60km from the plant was stopped by the police and told it was too dangerous to proceed. He says there is lots of traffic coming in the other direction. Authorities in vehicles with sirens are making public announcements to the crowds.

0855Some pictures have come through now on Japanese TV of that explosion. It looks very strong. You can see debris being blasted from the building, then a cloud of smoke mushrooming up from the plant.

0850Japan’s Kyodo news agency reporting that four people have been injured in an explosion at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant.

0847NHK TV carrying advice to people to protect themselves against radiation. Experts say people should cover their mouths and noses with wet towels. Exposed skin should also be covered and people should wash after coming indoors. People should also avoid vegetables and other fresh food, as well as tap water, until authorities give the all-clear.

0841Malcolm Grimston, a nuclear energy expert from Imperial College London, has told the BBC that as long as any nuclear meltdown is small-scale, it can be contained: “For example, there was one in the Chapel Cross plant in south-west Scotland in the 1960s, and at the end of that it only affected two of what they call the fuel channels, the long tubes where the fuel is put. They simply sealed those off, there was no release of radioactivity offsite and the plant continued to operate for 30 years.”

0828Japan’s NHK TV showing before and after pictures of the Fukushima-Daiichi plant. It appears to show that the outer structure of one of four buildings at the plant is no longer there.

0822The Associated Press cites Fukushima Prefecture official Masato Abe as saying the cause of the white smoke seen above the plant is still under investigation, and that it’s unclear whether there was an explosion.

0814 tlaszuk in Japan tweets: “I know people that walked nearly 30km home last night!”

0810Japanese media reports say that radioactivity has risen 20-fold outside the Fukushima-Daiichi plant.

0806NHK TV says the number of dead across Japan has reached 1,000.

0803Japan’s NHK TV also has that report of an explosion, which it says was “near” the Fukushima-Daiichi plant. The Tokyo Electric Power Company – which runs the plant – says some workers were injured, NHK reports.

0755AFP says an explosion has been heard at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant, and says Japanese TV is showing a white cloud above the plant.

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0752Ayako Miki in Tokyo writes: “Although a day has passed since the earthquake happened, little information comes from the northern part of Japan. Everybody in Tokyo is just worrying, and nobody knows what will happen. Just scary and uneasy.”
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0746Some 5.6 million Japanese homes are reported to be without power, and more than one million without water.

0741The Bank of Japan is to hold an emergency meeting on Monday – it says it will do its best to guarantee market stability.

0731More from NHK TV: People outside a 10km radius from the Fukushima-Daiichi plant should be safe. About 80,000 people live within a 10km radius of the plant, and evacuations of those people began at 1000 local time.

0728NHK TV says authorities are pumping water into the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant to try to cool it but that the level of cooling water is sinking.

0725Japanese public broadcaster NHK is reporting that caesium has been detected around the nuclear power plant Fukushima-Daiichi. It quotes an expert as saying a small part of a fuel rod may have melted, but that fuel is almost entirely inside reactor.

0715The BBC’s Roland Buerk in Tokyo says people there are rushing to shops to stock up, worried that supplies will run low.

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0706 Tom Summersall in Tokyo writes: “A harrowing day yesterday full of mixed emotions of fear and relief has been followed by a bizarre feeling today as a degree normalcy returns to Tokyo, with open shops and supermarkets, thrown into stark contrast by what we see on our TV screens of the poor souls up north, and the growing emergency at the Fukushima reactor 150km up the road. Meanwhile, the aftershocks keep bumping along.”
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0657From the BBC’s Damian Grammaticas: “In Sukagawa city, 130km south of Sendai almost all shops and businesses have closed – petrol filling stations, superstores, fast food outlets are all shut because of the earthquake. We passed one three story building that pancaked down. It was apparently a watch factory but nobody was hurt when it came down. The only petrol station we have seen was open, there were queues of people. The highway to Sendai is closed to traffic.”

0650Teacher Michael Tonge in Sendai tells the BBC: “You see a lot of army around, heading out to the worst affected areas. There’s a lot of people coming round with hats on to check the buildings and make sure everyone’s safe. An evacuation centre has been set up. A lot of supermarkets are giving away cheap food but there’s obviously long lines to get that food.”

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0641 Eri in Osaka, Japan writes: “Osaka hasn’t been affected by the earthquake but I’m really shocked. My friend who lives in Tokyo spent last night in a shelter. My mother’s friend lives in Miyagi but my mother can’t contact her. I’m praying for everyone who has been affected by this horrible tragedy.”
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0631A BBC news team lands at Fukushima airport, which shows no signs of damage. The team describes seeing 20 helicopters, including some emergency teams.

0625The quake death toll rises to more than 700, the AFP news agency reports

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0606Masayuki Okumiya, in Tokyo, writes: “It is uncannily quiet. There are fewer people in department stores and it is much less crowded on trains. It is probably because we are tired of the pandemonium of yesterday, but also because we are just worried about the victims of the northen part of Japan. Can’t describe this powerlessness, just watching the footage of tsunami and being unable to do anything for them.”
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0552Clare Gollop, from search-and-rescue charity Rapid UK, tells the BBC: “We’ve had people here today packing kit and just checking that everything is ready to go. We’ve been organising flights… and we’re literally just waiting for a request to go to help.”

0548The plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, tells AFP: “We believe the reactor is not melting down or cracking. We are trying to raise the water level.”

0529Back to the quake-damaged nuclear power plant Fukushima-Daiichi, and worrying reports on the AFP news agency, quoting Japanese media, that it “may be experiencing nuclear meltdown”.

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0515John Little, in Komagane-Shi, writes: “We’re currently seeing pictures of an army helicopter making very daring landings on the narrow, congested roof of a hospital in Miyagi-ken to ferry the injured in and out. At the same time, people can be seen elsewhere hanging out of top-floor windows waving blankets and emergency flares to attract attention. Already this morning we’ve seen news helicopters (which aren’t equipped for winching operations) directing rescue helicopters to trapped survivors.”
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0511Japan scales back its tsunami warning for much of the country, and revokes “large tsunami” warnings for all but a stretch of the Pacific coastline closest to the epicentre of Friday’s earthquake, Reuters reports.

0449Naomi Van Holbutt-Kirk adds: “While I was waiting on the street the next quake came, which was very frightening and can only be likened to the feeling of riding a wave on the pavement. Frightened mothers were screaming and crying, nobody knew where the safest place to be was and everyone was looking up at the shaking buildings… minutes later we were allowed into the building to collect our children.”

0446British mother-of-three Naomi Van Holbutt-Kirk describes emotional scenes at a school in Tokyo as she and other parents were about to collect their children. She says: “I could actually see my seven-year-old daughter crouched under a desk with her classmates… the building was swinging like a giant pendulum and I was just waiting for the sound of a crash from the adjacent building where my five-year-old son was still in his classroom. It did not collapse and the quake eventually stopped.”

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0432Christopher Craig, in Sendai, writes: “Electrical power was restored this morning and the government has announced that some grocery stores will be opened to provide food and water. Aftershocks hit regularly, with almost continuous tremors since the first quake, but nothing has approached the strength of the initial shock.”
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0430Thousands of people remain trapped in buildings surrounded by swirling floodwaters in Miyagi prefecture, authorities there tell the AFP news agency.

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0419Yukinori Mesuda, from Tokyo, writes: “We are in an historical, deep grief. Thousands are searching for their families with no luck, and can only pray or cry now. We will never lose hope. We shall get back into peaceful life with unity, wisdom and love. Please be with us.”
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0411More from the BBC’s Mariko Oi in Tokyo, who says more than four million households remain without electricity in northern Japan. She says phone companies are offering free public calls because mobile phone lines have been disrupted.

0401More than 215,000 people are taking refuge in emergency shelters in the east and north of the country following Friday’s massive quake, Japan’s national police agency tells the AFP news agency.

0350Sayaka Matsumoto, from the International Red Cross in Tokyo, says: “This is one of the largest disasters we’ve ever experienced, so the situation is very much unpredictable. But so far, we have mobilised more than 60 medical teams and more than 450 medical personnel.”

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0336Naoto Kobaashi, from Tokyo, writes: “Situation in Tokyo is becoming normal now. But most of the information is in Japanese, so unfortunately the foreigners cannot understand them. So please report to the English speaking community in Japan the following : if you are in the hazard area, calm down and try to make a community to help each other. Also please do not use candles. If you have to leave the car out in the road leave the key inside. Emergency vehicles may have to use the road. If you are not in the hazard area please save electricity. All the power plants in Japan are sending their energy to north Japan. To do that all of Japan has to save the energy. Try not to call unless it’s an emergency. There is a limit in phone line and save them for the people who really need it. Try use the 171 service or twitter for the information. Thank you for reading and your help can save lives.”
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0327The earthquake sparked 206 separate fires, Japanese broadcaster reports on its website.

0324Michael Tonge, a teacher from Sendai, tells the BBC: “Going to take a few days for things to get a bit better. Still experiencing strong aftershocks. No trains running so many people stuck and sleeping rough in freezing conditions as had heavy snow storm just after quake when people running to go to evacuation points in parks.”

0319The BBC’s Mariko Oi in Tokyo says Tokyo Electric is warning that demand for electricity will outstrip supply by the early evening, so the firm is urging residents in the capital to save electricity.

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0314Kana Akabane, from Chiba, writes: “Due to no transportation, my colleagues went back home on foot. They walked more than 20km to their home and it took five hours. I stayed at my office with four other colleagues overnight. During the night, we felt many earthquakes, some were small but the others were big. Our place is 400km away from Miyagi, but there are many cracks on the road. Water and clay comes out from the ground, so many cars stack. We want to go home, but recovery of trains is very slow and stations are packed with people who want to get on trains, which is very dangerous.”
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0311A resident of a town near to the worst-hit city of Sendai tells the BBC: “We were shaken very badly by the quake. Unable to stand, everything inside the house just fell down. A large number of people in this town have actually had to be evacuated to schools and gymnasiums because they had no water, no power. It’s pretty overwhelming, people here are just like looking gobsmacked by the whole situation.”)

0308The Union of Concerned Scientists is publishing updates on its website covering technical aspects of the nuclear difficulties in Japan.

0304Mr Lyman goes on to raise the spectre of Chernobyl: “In the worst case the entire core could melt through the steel reactor vessel and escape into the containment building, and then the containment is the only thing that is standing between the radiation in the reactor and the atmosphere. There is a chance if that does occur that there will be over pressure, the containment can fail and you might have a release on the order of the Chernobyl accident.”

0302A similar warning, but with a more doom-laden tone, comes from Edwin Lyman, a senior staff scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He tells Reuters: “We don’t have all the information but every indication is that the type of event that occurred there is one of the most serious things that can happen to a nuclear reactor.”

0258Mr Acton adds: “If there is nothing worse than radioactive steam being released into the environment, then there’s unlikely to be significant lasting damage to people outside of the plant. If the integrity of the core is lost and the core starts to melt, and much more radioactive steam is leaked out into the environment, then we could be in an extremely serious situation.”

0256More on the nuclear fears: James Acton from the Carnegie Endowment tells the BBC that releasing vapour from the reactors shouldn’t damage the environment.

0253Clever techies launch a Google maps widget that allows people to search for their loved ones or get updates on the situation across Japan, as reported by ZDnet.

0239Another powerful aftershock – with a magnitude of 6.8 – strikes the east coast, according to US seismologists quoted by the AFP news agency.

0232Back to concerns surrounding two stricken nuclear power plants: Steve Kerekes, from the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington DC, says: “Even if there were to be a release of radiation, that in itself is not necessarily something that means the public is being harmed… the question would be ‘what are the levels’?”

0220As reports emerge of people calling for help, trapped under rubble, Gillian Dacey from search-and-rescue charity Rapid-UK, assesses their chances of survival. She tells the BBC: “In the right conditions they can survive at least four, and up to seven days. In some earthquakes, if the person who’s trapped has some water or food, they can maybe survive 10 days, and we have heard of some extreme cases of up to 14 days, but the conditions have to be right.”

0203New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key, whose country is dealing with the aftermath of its own earthquake crisis in Christchurch, confirms a rescue team will be sent to Japan. He says: “It’s likely that the complete team of 48 will be leaving within the next 24 to 48 hours. We want to offer whatever support we can.”

0143Tokyo Electric Power releases more radioactive vapour from a second stricken reactor, AFP reports.

0135If you’re just joining us, here’s a quick recap on the main events in Japan: An 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck north-east Japan on Friday, killing at least 300 people – although that figure is widely expected to rise. As a huge relief mission gets under way, states of emergency have been declared at two nuclear plants. Up to 300 bodies were recovered from the port city of Sendai, in Miyagi prefecture, and a third of Kesennuma, a city in the same region, is said to be under water.

0107Reaction just in from flight attendant Mark Richardson, who was on the sixth floor of Narita Airport when the quake struck: “It was absolutely terrifying, computers were flying off the office tables and it seemed to go on for ever,” he says. “Now watching the footage of this quake on TV, I count myself very lucky. Aftershocks are still rattling our nerves every half an hour or so and my house looks like it has been raided by burglars.”

0059Tokyo Electric Power, which runs the two stricken nuclear power plants, confirms it has released a small amount of vapour into the atmosphere to reduce pressure on one of its reactors. It tells AFP there are no health risks.

0050Reaction to events at two nuclear power plants 250km (160 miles) north east of Tokyo, where states of emergencies have been declared. Environmental group Greenpeace tells the AFP news agency “Japan is in the middle of a nuclear crisis with potentially devastating consequences”. Campaigner Jan Beranek adds: “While the immediate focus is on minimising radiation release and keeping local people safe, this is yet another reminder of the inherent risks of nuclear power.”

0033Naval and coastguard helicopters airlift all 81 people to safety from a ship that was swept out to sea by a tsunami, the AFP news agency reports, quoting Japanese media.

0023People living within a 3km (two-mile) radius of the Fukushima-Daini nuclear plant are told to evacuate, the AFP news agency reports.

0014Japan declares a state of emergency at the Fukushima-Daini power plant, where three of its reactors failed, the Associated Press reports. It says a state of emergency is already in place at the nearby Fukushima-Daiichi plant, where two reactors failed.

0008Welcome to the second day of our live coverage of Japan’s earthquake disaster. We’ve archived Friday’s minute-by-minute updates, but you can still access them on a separate page of the website.


Monster aftershock could strike within days
Adam Morton
March 14, 2011

PM speaks on Japan and nuclear threat
Prime Minister Julia Gillard says Japanese officials told the nuclear reactor had an explosion in one of the walls, rather than in its core.

NORTH-EASTERN Japan can expect another monster earthquake large enough to trigger a tsunami within days, the head of the Australian Seismological Centre says.

The director, Kevin McCue, said there had been more than 100 smaller quakes since Friday, but a larger aftershock was likely.

”Normally they happen within days,” he said. ”The rule of thumb is that you would expect the main aftershock to be one magnitude smaller than the main shock, so you would be expecting a 7.9.
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”That’s a monster again in its own right that is capable of producing a tsunami and more damage.”

The Japanese quake was the result of a process called thrust faulting. A piece of the Earth’s crust broke away at the juncture of the Eurasian and Pacific plates and was thrust underneath the islands of Honshu and Hokkaido.

The US Geological Survey estimated the quake moved the Japanese coast about 2.4 metres.

”It basically pushed the sea floor up and down on opposite sides of the fault by 10 metres, causing the tsunami,” Dr McCue said. ”It is a sudden rupture that has occurred, but it has occurred because the two plates are converging at about eight centimetres a year and have been for about 100 years. That eight metres is released suddenly when the plate snaps and breaks and produces the earthquake.”

Japan’s last earthquake on this scale was in 1923, when the magnitude 7.9 Kanto quake killed more than 100,000 people in and around Tokyo and Yokohama.

The latest Japanese disaster is unrelated to the quake that devastated Christchurch last month, which was caused by a fracturing within the Pacific plate.

A seismology research fellow at the University of Melbourne, Gary Gibson, said the world averages one magnitude 8 quake a year, but the rate was inconsistent. The 1980s and 1990s had far fewer large quakes than average, for example.

”There is more variation than you would expect from a random occurrence of earthquakes, and we really don’t have a mechanism to describe why that is the case,” Dr Gibson said. ”But there is no question that the last two years have been very active and well above average.”

Dr McCue dismissed suggestions that melting glaciers due to global warming could escalate the earthquake risk.

And the aftershocks go on: 275 hit quake-torn Japan as fears grow for missing 10,000 in flattened port town

By Jo Macfarlane
Last updated at 5:17 PM on 13th March 2011

* 42 survivors have been pulled out of the rubble
* Official death toll hits 763, but many hundreds believed to be buried under rubble or washed away by waves
* Explosion at nuclear power plant, but experts say reactor is not at risk
* Number of people contaminated with radiation could reach 160
* Region hit by hundreds of aftershocks, some up to 6.8-magnitude
* Rescue operation begins but some areas still cut off by road damage and flood waters
* 70,000 people evacuated to shelters in Sendai

Forty-two survivors have been pulled from the rubble in the flattened town of Minami Sanrik, where up to 10,000 people are feared to have perished.

Around half the town’s 18,000 residents are missing but search and rescue teams are still working desperately through the rubble to try and find more people.

Police are also trying to stop people returning to their homes.

Despite the first tsunami warning being issued to the town that lies two miles from the coastline, some residents decided to stay in their homes instead of fleeing – leading to the high number of missing people, CNN reported today..

Most of the houses in Minami Sanriku have been completely flattened and waterlogged and one house was found even with seaweed inside.

Villagers carry relief goods in Minami Sanriku, the worst-hit area where almost 10,000 people have gone missing

Last night, the official death toll from Friday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake and ensuing tidal wave stood at 763, but more than 1,700 people are believed to have been buried in the rubble or washed away by waves.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by hundreds of aftershocks, and it is feared the final death count could rise sharply once a full picture of the catastrophe emerges. In Minami Sanriku alone, 10,000 people could have died – more than half of the city’s population.

It only took a few minutes for the 30ft wave to wash the town away with terrifying force. The locals desperately tried to escape to higher ground. But most did not stand a chance.

It is hard to imagine any life remains among the debris. Where last week fishing boats bobbed in the harbour, it is now impossible to tell where the sea begins and the land ends.

One of the few buildings left standing is the town’s Shizugawa Hospital – the large white building to the centre left of this picture. But the rest of what was once the town centre is flooded with filthy sea water.

Other structures lie battered and smashed in piles of broken wood and twisted metal, but most are now little more than debris.

Just visible through the murky waters towards the bottom left of the photograph are the painted stripes of a zebra crossing.

There are vague remnants of roads and the occasional outline of a flooded car, and it is just possible to see the half-submerged outline of the town’s athletics track towards the top left of the picture.

Minami Sanriku lies about 55 miles west of the earthquake’s epicentre and directly in the path of the subsequent tsunami.

Japan has experienced more than 275 aftershocks of magnitude 5 or greater since Friday’s earthquake, further hampering rescue efforts.

Some have been as powerful as 6.8-magnitude, and it is feared that if an aftershock of a magnitude over 7 occurred it could cause another tsunami.

According to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center, Japan has experienced between 12 and 15 aftershocks per hour since Friday’s quake, and it is not known when they will stop.

In the city of Sendai, authorities have had to evacuate nearly 70,000 people to shelters. To add to problems, there has been a spate of panic buying as most petrol stations and supermarkets are out of service.

At least a million households had gone without water since the quake, and food and gasoline were quickly running out across the coastal regions hit by the tsunami.

* British teacher missing after Japan earthquake struck is found safe and well
* Day the Earth moved: Quake tilted the world’s axis by 25cm
* The tottering towers of Tokyo: Dramatic videos show the moment the earthquake struck
* Incredible swarms of fish form off coast of Acapulco: But was surge caused by tsunami thousands of miles away?

The government insisted radiation levels were low following Saturday’s explosion, saying the blast had not affected the reactor core container, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it had been told by Japan that levels ‘have been observed to lessen in recent hours’.

But Japan’s nuclear safety agency said the number of people exposed to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi plant could reach 160. Workers in protective clothing were scanning people arriving at evacuation centres for radioactive exposure.

These pictures reveal the brutal aftermath of the tsunami, but an amateur video posted online, filmed by one of the town’s residents, shows the terrifying moment the wave hit.

It shows people desperately driving uphill to escape the wave and the road lined with locals watching open-mouthed as their homes are swept away.

The horrifying footage focuses briefly on those people caught in the traffic, including emergency vehicles, which failed to escape in time. One bus narrowly misses being washed away after speeding uphill as those filming shout ‘Run! Run!’.

Two hundred people were said to have been evacuated from the roof of the hospital and police believe the tidal wave may have washed away an entire train.

One photograph showed the letters ‘SOS’ written on the ground in the car park of the Minami Sanriku Elementary School. The letter H, surrounded by a circle, had also been added, a plea for helicopter assistance.

Tsunami warnings were issued to the entire Pacific seaboard, but the worst fears were not realised. Widespread damage was caused to some coast areas, including California, but there were no reports of fatalities.

President Barack Obama has pledged U.S. assistance and said one aircraft carrier was already in Japan and a second was on its way.

Japan’s worst previous earthquake was an 8.3-magnitude temblor in Kanto which killed 143,000 people in 1923. A 7.2-magnitude quake in Kobe killed 6,400 people in 1995.

The country lies on the ‘Ring of Fire’ – an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching across the Pacific where around 90 per cent of the world’s quakes occur.

An estimated 230,000 people in 12 countries were killed after a quake triggered a massive tsunami on Boxing Day, 2004, in the Indian Ocean.

A magnitude 8.8 quake which struck off the coast of Chile in February last year also generated a tsunami which killed 524 people. Authorities mistakenly told people in coastal regions there was no danger of a tsunami

People queue up for food rations at a supermarket in Ogawara, Miyagi Prefecture
Shelves are bare in the suburbs of Tokyo, far from the quake’s epicentre

Shelves are bare in the suburbs of Tokyo, far from the quake’s epicentre

A pile of burnt out vehicles that were ready to be exported are piled in disarray at a port at Tokai village in Ibaraki prefecture
Aerial view of the devastation in the town of Onagawa, Miyagi prefecture

A pile of burnt out vehicles that were ready to be exported are piled in disarray at a port at Tokai village in Ibaraki prefecture – and an aerial view of the devastation in the town of Onagawa, Miyagi

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1365569/Japan-earthquake-tsunami-10-000-people-missing-Minamisanriku-aftershocks-hamper-rescue-efforts.html#ixzz1GVYgR3M3

US experts fear ‘Chernobyl-like’ crisis for Japan

Posted: 13 March 2011 0741 hrs

• US deploys two nuclear experts to Japan
• Another quake-hit Japan reactor in trouble: operator
• Thousands rally against nuclear power in Germany
• Winds will blow possible Japan radiation to Pacific
• Japan agency rates nuclear plant accident at 4 on 0-7 scale
• Blast at Japan nuke plant; 10,000 missing after quake
• Japan Post-Quake Nuclear Meltdown

Expert’s view on how close to meltdown are Japan’s quake-hit nuke reactors

WASHINGTON – US nuclear experts warned Saturday that pumping sea water to cool a quake-hit Japanese nuclear reactor was an “act of desperation” that may foreshadow a Chernobyl-like disaster.

Several experts, in a conference call with reporters, also predicted that regardless of the outcome at the Fukushima No. 1 atomic plant crisis, the accident will seriously damage the nuclear power renaissance.

“The situation has become desperate enough that they apparently don’t have the capability to deliver fresh water or plain water to cool the reactor and stabilize it, and now, in an act of desperation, are having to resort to diverting and using sea water,” said Robert Alvarez, who works on nuclear disarmament at the Institute for Policy Studies.

“I would describe this measure as a ‘Hail Mary’ pass,” added Alvarez, using American football slang for a final effort to win the game as time expires.

An 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan on Friday set off the emergency at the plant, which was then hit by an explosion Saturday that prompted an evacuation of the surrounding area.

Workers doused the stricken reactor with sea water to try to avert catastrophe, after the quake knocked out power to the cooling system.

What occurred at the plant was a “station blackout,” which is the loss of offsite air-conditioning power combined with the failure of onsite power, in this case diesel generators.

“It is considered to be extremely unlikely but the station blackout has been one of the great concerns for decades,” said Ken Bergeron, a physicist who has worked on nuclear reactor accident simulation.

“We’re in uncharted territory,” he said.

The reactor has been shut down but the concern is the heat in the core, which can melt if it is not cooled. If the core melts through the reactor vessel, Bergeron explained, it could flow onto the floor of the containment building. If that happens, the structure likely will fail, the experts said.

“The containment building at this plant is certainly stronger than that at Chernobyl but a lot less strong than at Three Mile Island, so time will tell,” he said.

Peter Bradford, former member of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), said that if the cooling attempts fail, “at that point it’s a Chernobyl-like situation where you start dumping in sand and cement.”

The two worst nuclear accidents on record are the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine and the partial core meltdown of the Three Mile Island reactor in the US state of Pennsylvania in 1979.

Early Sunday, nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power said radiation levels had surpassed the legal limit at its Fukushima No. 1 plant, hit by a blast the previous day, Kyodo News reported.

“If it continues, if they don’t get control of this and… we go from a partial meltdown of the core to a full meltdown, this will be a complete disaster,” Joseph Cirincione, the head of the Ploughshares Fund, told CNN.

Cirincione said the presence of radioactive cesium in the atmosphere after the plant was vented indicated that a partial meltdown was under way.

“That told the operators that the fuel rods had been exposed, that the water level had dropped below the fuel rods and the fuel rods were starting to burn, releasing cesium,” he said.

Japan’s nuclear safety agency rated the Fukushima accident at four on the International Nuclear Event Scale from 0 to 7. The Three Mile Island accident was rated five while Chernobyl was a seven.

The government declared an atomic emergency and said tens of thousands of people living within 12 miles (20 kilometers) of the plant should leave after an explosion at the nuclear plant Saturday.

Paul Gunter is the US organization Beyond Nuclear, told Fox News that the evacuation zone might be too small: “If that containment is lost… this will spread a tremendous amount of radioactivity, and it will then be borne on the weather.”

The NRC said it has sent two experts to Japan — experts in boiling water nuclear reactors who are part of a broader US aid team sent to the disaster zone.

Bradford, the former NRC member, said: “This is obviously a significant setback for the so-called nuclear renaissance.”

“The image of a nuclear power plant blowing up before your eyes on the television screen is a first.”

But World Nuclear Association spokesman Ian Hore-Lacy told CBS News that the threat of a full meltdown is minimal.

“That possibility is remote at the best of times and is diminishing by the hour as the fuel gets cooler and generates less heat,” he said.


The Japanese Earthquake and Fukushima Reactor Failure endanger Western US

Fallout Map From Fukushima Destroyed Nuclear Plant

West Coast USA Danger IF Japan Nuclear Reactor Meltdown

“If they can’t restore power to the plant (and cool the reactor), then there’s the possibility of some sort of core meltdown”. An alarming statement made by James Acton, a physicist who examined Japan’s Kashiwazaki nuclear plant after a 2007 earthquake, who told CNN that Japanese authorities are in race to cool down the Fukushima reactor.

Following the fifth largest earthquake in recorded world history, a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, has resulted in the closure of all Japan’s nuclear power reactors, one of which, the Fukushima reactor, is overheating and in danger of a meltdown if coolant is not restored soon. It’s like a pressure cooker… when you have something generating heat and you don’t cool it off or release the steam…


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Reported from abc NEWS, Scientists said that even though the reactor had stopped producing energy, its fuel continues to generate heat and needs steady levels of coolant to prevent it from overheating and triggering a dangerous cascade of events.

They go on to say, “Up to 100 percent of the volatile radioactive Cesium-137 content of the pools could go up in flames and smoke, to blow downwind over large distances,”

“Given the large quantity of irradiated nuclear fuel in the pool, the radioactivity release could be worse than the Chernobyl nuclear reactor catastrophe of 25 years ago.” said Kevin Kamps, a nuclear waste specialist.

Fukushima I (there are two plant locations) is one of the 25 largest nuclear power stations in the world.


How would a nuclear plant meltdown unfold?

* Control rods are driven back down into the core upon emergency (if rods don’t make it all the way… trouble)
* The coolant (water) could cease if backup systems fail (electricity, pumps, generators, batteries)
* Reactor continues to produce heat
* Numerous venting valve systems would release pressure above ~1,000 psi into containment vessel
* Eventually the uranium fuel encasement metal will melt (2,200 deg F)
* Radioactive contamination then released into the reactor vessel
* Radiation escapes into an outer, concrete containment building
* Radiation escapes into the environment.

Not only would such a disaster be horrible for the local region and Japan, but other countries, namely the U.S. would be effected next by airborne radiation particles, the magnitude of which is yet to be determined.

Why would the west coast USA be in danger?

The prevailing jet stream winds are blowing from Japan directly across the Pacific ocean to the west coast of the United States. Any airborne radiation would make its way across with the jet stream, reaching the U.S. in approximately 36 hours, depending on the actual speed of the jet.

Image of the Jet Stream from Japan to the U.S.


BBC News Asia-Pacific is now reporting that radiation levels inside the nuclear reactor are 1,000 times of normal, and there are now high levels (unspecified) ‘outside’ of the nuclear reactor plant. They report that people are being evacuated in an approximate 6-mile perimeter.
Map of Nuclear Power Plant Reactors in Japan


Fukushima Power Plant, Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) diagram


The Washington Post reports that a second nuclear reactor in the Fukushima power plant is also affected. The plant has a total of six reactors. Reports only a few hours left on battery power for cooling systems.

Clarification from NHK Wolrd News Japan… a second location, Fukushima II, not far from the Fukushima I nuclear power plant, is also experiencing cooling problems. The government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said equipment failures have made it impossible to cool 3 of the plant’s 4 reactors. (Translation: ‘impossible’ is not a good word).

Reuters is now reporting that Tokyo Electric Power Company has lost ability to control pressure at some of the reactors at its Fukushima II (Daini) plant nearby the Daiichi power plant (Fukushima I), both suffering from core cooling problems. If battery power at Fukushima II is depleted before AC power is restored, the plant will stop supplying water to the core and the cooling water level in the reactor core will drop.

Kyodo news reports that the cooling system has now failed at three nuclear reactors at Fukushima II, and the coolant water temperature has reached boiling level.

Kyodo news reports, “the operator of the two plants in Fukushima Prefecture is set to release pressure in containers housing their reactors under an unprecedented government order, so as to avoid the plants sustaining damage and losing their critical containment function.” …”the action would involve the release of steam that would likely include radioactive materials”

From Kyodo news, Japan, URGENT: Concerns of core partially melting at Fukushima nuke plant. The core at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 1 reactor may be partially melting, the nuclear safety agency said Saturday.

Reuters, Japan authorities: TEPCO plant fuel rods may have melted -Jiji, …could develop into a breach of the nuclear reactor vessel and the question then becomes one of how strong the containment structure around the vessel is and whether it has been undermined by the earthquake

Reuters, An explosion was heard and smoke was seen at the Tokyo Electric Power Company Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant, Jiji news agency quoted the police as saying on Saturday.

Outer structure of building that houses reactor at Fukushima plant appears to have blown off – NHK by Reuters_TonyTharakan at 3/12/2011 8:12:43 AM12:12 AM

Tepco says explosion may have been hydrogen used to cool Fukushima plant – Kyodo; Tepco says 4 people taken to hospital after reported explosion, no word on condition – Jiji

From The Associated Press, An explosion at a nuclear power station Saturday destroyed a building housing the reactor…the explosion destroyed the exterior walls of the building where the reactor is placed, but not the actual metal housing enveloping the reactor.

In 1986, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor exploded and caught fire, sending a cloud of radiation over much of Europe. That reactor – unlike the Fukushima one – was not housed in a sealed container, so there was no way to contain the radiation once the reactor exploded.

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Things to know about Cesium-137, “IF” there is a complete meltdown and release into the environment

(also spelled, Caesium)

Where does cesium-137 come from?

Radioactive cesium-137 is produced when uranium and plutonium absorb neutrons and undergo fission. Examples of the uses of this process are nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons.

What is the half life?

The half-life of cesium-137 is 30 years. Because of the chemical nature of cesium, it moves easily through the environment. This makes the cleanup of cesium-137 difficult.

How do people come in contact with cesium-137?

Walking on contaminated soil could result in external exposure to gamma radiation. People may ingest cesium-137 with food and water, or may inhale it as dust. It is distributed fairly uniformly throughout the body’s soft tissues. Exposure may also be external (that is, exposure to its gamma radiation from outside the body).

How can cesium-137 affect people’s health?

Exposure to radiation from cesium-137 results in increased risk of cancer. If exposures are very high, serious burns, and even death, can result. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says everyone is exposed to minute amounts of cesium-137. The average annual dose in the Northern Hemisphere is less than 1 millirem annually. That falls below the 100 millirem exposure limit the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recommends.

(information sourced from the U.S. EPA)

Ionizing Radiation “Harmful effects of radiation

There have been maps circulating around the blogosphere showing the would-be radiation pattern from Japan across the Pacific Ocean. In fact, one map indicates a long 7-day time frame to reach the west coast U.S…

One must use common sense when considering this possibility. It’s all really quite straight forward. Any particles would flow with the wind. Period. All one needs to do is know the wind pattern from the day of release, namely, the Jet stream. Currently the Jet Stream is moving over Japan and streaming across the ocean towards the U.S. (as it pretty much always does). The average speed of the jet is about 100 – 120 knots, or about 110 – 140 mph. Simple math, 4,500 miles divided by 120 mph equals about 37 hours (plus or minus). A day and a half. End of story.

Note, it’s all about the wind pattern. There are weather sites that illustrate this and update regularly. The first image of this post shows the current jet stream as of post time, which will wiggle waggle throughout time.

Also note, “IF” and whatever amount of radiation is released, will disperse rapidly from the site. It’s not like there will be millions of glowing people on the west coast U.S. 36 hours later, but there would certainly be some amount of exposure given the current jet. Not qualified to surmise how much that would be… Those in the immediate vicinity of Fukushima would obviously be tragically affected.


When An ill Wind Blows From Afar! (Like from Japan, Iran or North Korea!)

Surviving Radioactive Fallout & Radiation Contamination from Japan, Iran or North Korea
Also, Mid-East, South Korea, Pakistan, India, China, Russia, Chernobyl, etc.

By Shane Connor
March 12th, 2011

This guide ‘When An ill Wind Blows From Afar! (Like from Japan Fukushima reactor)’ deals specifically with radioactive fallout that originated from afar, like a Chernobyl in the past, or Iran in the future that’s had its nuclear facilities bombed, releasing radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, or a North Korea gone mad, etc. This guide provides panic dispelling knowledge so people downwind can more promptly initiate appropriate protective actions, as required.

This is the third in the series that begins with The Good News About Nuclear Destruction! at www.ki4u.com/goodnews.htm that debunks the myths of nuclear un-survivability and What To Do If A Nuclear Disaster Is Imminent! at www.ki4u.com/guide.htm that details the practical methods for American families to protect themselves from nuclear explosion(s) and fallout originating here.

America’s next nuclear concerns may not have originated here,
but be instead from a nuclear bomb or nuclear release overseas.

A Chernobyl-type event affecting people in other countries downwind
and far away from the actual event itself, as depicted in Map ‘A’ below.

Or, a nuclear blast, like when a single, and very small, above ground
Chinese nuclear test explosion on December 28, 1966 resulted in the
fallout cloud covering most of the United States a few days later, as
depicted in this now declassified Map ‘B’ below.

The important thing to recognize in the charts above is that here in the Northern Hemisphere, via upper wind Prevailing Westerlies, anything unleashed to the west of the USA could be coming here next.

In a future event, if not huge and/or multiple releases, most people very far downwind will either not experience any radioactive fallout, or not of high enough quantity and intensity, to be of significant concern. However, there can be exceptions, as detailed below.

Radiation Dosage

Most watched today, for future radioactive fallout and radiation contamination, is from Japans’ Fukushima reactor releasing radioactive contaminants into the air, that could next be drifting downwind towards North America…

Other future potential risks include Iran and North Korea, where their nuclear facilities could be bombed, releasing radioactive contaminants into the air, drifting downwind, too.

Iran nuclear facilities

There will be a big difference whether the ‘event’ is a nuclear power plant accident or conventional bombs used in Iran or North Korea or actual nuclear weapons, as well as in how many locations in Iran or North Korea, in both how much fallout is created and how high it is ejected into those upper winds, that will affect greatly how much and far downwind the fallout will then be a serious threat.

Of course, anything could happen anywhere anytime, like it has now in Japan, not just from Iran or North Korea in the future.

North Korea missle ranges

Other areas of concern, besides Iran or North Korea, are from other countries in the Mid-East, South Korea, Pakistan, India, Russia, China, or even another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island anywhere, like in Japan today, etc.

There would be justifiable concern for those immediately downwind and thus protective actions that they will need to promptly undertake to protect themselves from radioactive fallout and radiation contamination. Usually either evacuation or sheltering, along with prophylactic Potassium Iodide (KI) for protection against radioactive iodine. (More on that below.) Much further downwind, like here in USA, the effects will be substantially less pronounced, though some measured protective actions, like Potassium Iodide (KI), may be indicated in some areas.

For everyone, though, without the basic knowledge presented here, they risk unnecessary panic that could become even more widespread than the fallout itself.

It’s hard to say how much fallout will fall here from overseas, like Japan or Iran or North Korea, until it does, but it’s very unlikely that it would ever be enough to require Americans to utilize fallout shelters to survive it, as they would if a nuke was exploded upwind of them right here in America, as detailed in What To Do If A Nuclear Disaster Is Imminent! at www.ki4u.com/guide.htm.

The fallout threat here in the USA, from an ‘event’ originating far overseas, like Iran or North Korea or Japan, will be based upon four factors;

– Type and quantity of radioactive isotopes unleashed; nuclear fission bomb(s) and/or nuclear materials facility.
– Resulting plume or mushroom cloud altitude and wind direction and speed.
– Distance and time before arriving at your location.
– Ultimate isotope type and quantity falling out at your specific location.

What is radioactive fallout?

Radioactive fallout is the particulate matter (dust) produced by a nuclear explosion and carried high up into the air by the mushroom cloud. It drifts on the wind and most of it settles back to earth downwind of the explosion. The heaviest, most dangerous, and most noticeable fallout, will ‘fall out’ first closer to ground zero. It may begin arriving minutes after an explosion. The smaller and lighter dust-like particles will drift much farther downwind, often for hundreds of miles. Higher ejected fallout can even travel thousands of miles for weeks. Once it arrives, whether visible or not, most that will fall will have done so usually in under an hour once it begins, coating everything just like dust does on the ground, cars, trees, roofs, etc. Often visible as a fine dark grit on white surfaces, but not always.

However, rain can concentrate the fallout into localized ‘hot spots’ of much more intense radiation with no visible indication. For instance, as happened in Troy, NY in April 27, 1953 when a thunderstorm rained down fallout there, from a nuclear test in Nevada two days earlier, that produced readings up to a thousand times higher than normal background radiation, equivalent to readings taken only 200 miles away from the test site in Nevada. More details about this ‘rainout’ at “Thunderstorm in Troy” at

If not an actual nuke explosion, though, like with nuclear facilities at Japans’ Fukushima reactor, the fallout from Japan should not rise as high without the mushroom cloud of a conventionally exploded nuclear bomb. Thus, more of the radioactive fallout from Japanese nuclear facilities would not fall as far away, but be concentrated more inside Japan and the neighbors of Japan on the map immediately downwind.

The terms “radiation” and “radioactivity” are often confused. The proper relationship between the terms is that “radioactive atoms emit radiation.” This radioactive fallout ‘dust’ is dangerous because it is emitting alpha, beta and, most importantly, penetrating gamma radiation (similar to x-ray’s). This gamma radiation (not the radioactive fallout dust) can go right through walls, roofs and protective clothing. Even if you manage not to inhale or ingest the dust, and keep it off your skin, hair, and clothes, and even if none gets inside your house, the radiation penetrating your home could still be extremely dangerous, and can injure or kill you inside. BUT, ONLY IF the quantity and intensity of the fallout at your specific location was high.

The further downwind, especially from fallout originating far overseas, and baring any rainouts as described above, that sparse fallout and its declining radiation will be very much less dangerous, both from the natural atmospheric dispersion and natural decay over time before it arrives.

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Radioactive fallout from a nuclear explosion, though very dangerous initially, loses its intensity quickly because it is giving off so much energy. For example, fallout emitting gamma ray radiation at a rate over 1000 R/hr (fatal with half hour of exposure) shortly after an explosion, weakens to only 1/10th as strong 7 hours later. Two days later, it’s only 1/100th as strong, or as deadly, as it was initially. And, two weeks later, it is only 1/1000th as strong as it was initially. (However, radioactive fallout from sources other than a nuclear explosion, such as conventionally bombed nuclear plants or nuclear processing facilities in Iran, will likely have a higher percentage of isotopes of longer lasting duration, but fortunately likely not get into the upper winds to travel as far, compared to if a nuke was used on them in Iran.) Nuclear Fallout Time Effects

A nuclear explosion creates a fallout ‘soup’ of 200 or so different radioactive isotopes, that become ever more dispersed over distance downwind, weakening with every passing hour, and whatever little still remains far downwind, that we might later inhale or ingest then, is even further dispersed in our bodies. They pose much less of a risk then than if they were to be concentrated into one small specific area of the body, like radioactive iodine (radioiodine) does in our thyroid glands.

The most widespread concern we would most likely see here…

…from well dispersed fallout originating from far overseas, will be from ingesting and/or inhaling radioiodine, mostly Iodine-131 (I-131). Radioiodine could also contaminate pastures, livestock and crops, most especially dairyland pastures and ultimately milk supplies for up to a month. Radioiodine has been long proven to be a major constituent of both nuclear explosions and nuclear power plant mishaps and is especially of concern as it uniquely re-concentrates itself into our tiny thyroid glands giving that gland a much higher dose and the highest risk for cancer later.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_iodide we see reported that:

Chernobyl also demonstrated that the need to protect the thyroid from radiation was greater than expected. Within ten years of the accident, it became clear that thyroid damage caused by released radioactive iodine was virtually the only adverse health effect that could be measured. As reported by the NRC, studies after the accident showed, that “As of 1996, except for thyroid cancer, there has been no confirmed increase in the rates of other cancers, including leukemia, among the…public, that have been attributed to releases from the accident.”

We also saw this thyroid radioiodine connection with our own Nevada atomic bomb testing program in the 1950s and early 1960s. The National Cancer Institute Study Estimating Thyroid Doses of I-131 Received by Americans From Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests ‘worst case’ estimate is that fallout from nuclear weapons testing here likely generated from 10,000 to 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer. Each year, more than 12,000 Americans find out they have thyroid cancer, though from various causes. About 1000 here in the U.S. die from it annually.

Are you pointing to where your family lives?

National Cancer Institute Study Estimating Thyroid Doses of I-131
Received by Americans From Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests

The NCI’s ‘worst case’ estimate is that fallout from nuclear weapons
testing likely generated from 10,000 to 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer!

Health physicist experts agree that the greatest health concerns, affecting the largest number of people far downwind, from a nuclear power plant accident or nuclear bomb explosion(s) anywhere in the world, will likely be from that release of radioiodine that is then carried downwind for hundreds and even thousands of miles. Inhaling radioiodine will be a concern downwind, though radioiodine contaminating the food supply and, in the public’s mind making it all suspect, could become the bigger concern. Milk will be atop the list with its short time from pasture to cow to milk on your table. More about radioiodine and very effective, simple and inexpensive protective measures below.

Unfortunately, the public is generally not well educated on nuclear threats and fallout, and stirred up by sensationalist media reports of potential food contamination, could unleash a widespread panic run on food stores and other supplies. Understanding that real potential for future panic would make it prudent for families to have calmly stocked up beforehand, as they should for any natural disaster or, failing that, promptly at the very first indication of any developing nuclear emergency while locally available inventories are still plentiful.

Fallout coming here from nuke use in Iran, Pakistan, India, Mid-East, Korea, Taiwan, China, Russia, Japan, etc.

The best documented case for concern in the USA of having overseas radioactive fallout raining down on us here, too, via prevailing westerly trade winds, with plenty of thyroid contaminating radioactive iodine, can be found in the Nuclear War Survival Skills book. This Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Facility of the U.S. Department of Energy, Updated and Expanded 1987 Edition, details the above and shows where a single, and very small, above ground Chinese nuclear test explosion (“a few hundred kilotons”) on December 28, 1966 resulted in the fallout cloud covering most of the United States. (See map ‘B’ above.)

Cresson H. Kearny, the author of the NWSS book, also states about this now declassified incident:

“It produced fallout that by January 1, 1967 resulted in the fallout cloud covering most of the United States. This one Chinese explosion produced about 15 million curies of iodine- 131 – roughly the same amount as the total release of iodine- 131 into the atmosphere from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.”

“Fallout from the approximately 300 kiloton Chinese test explosion shown in Fig. 1 (Map ‘B’ above) caused milk from cows that fed on pastures near Oak Ridge, Tennessee and elsewhere to be contaminated with radioiodine, although not with enough to be hazardous to health.”

“However, this milk contamination (up to 900 picocuries of radioactive iodine per liter) and the measured dose rates from the gamma rays emitted from fallout particles deposited in different parts of the United States indicate that trans-Pacific fallout from even an overseas nuclear war in which “only” two or three hundred megatons would be exploded could result in tens of thousands of unprepared Americans suffering thyroid injury.”

“Perhaps the first nuclear war casualties in the United States will be caused by fallout from an overseas nuclear war in which our country is not a belligerent. As the number of nations with nuclear weapons increases – especially in the Middle East – this generally unrecognized danger to Americans will worsen.”

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“Trans-Pacific war fallout, carried to an America at peace by the prevailing west-to-east winds that blow around the world, could be several hundred times more dangerous to Americans than fallout from the worst possible overseas nuclear power reactor accident, and many times more dangerous than fallout from a very improbable U.S. nuclear power reactor accident as lethal as the disastrous Chernobyl accident was to Russians.”

The 280 page Nuclear War Survival Skills book can be viewed free on-line here as pdf and hard copies acquired here. (This book also covers and details family nuclear preparations for much more than just the threat of radioiodine fallout, too.)

BTW, The maximum measured radioactive contamination of milk in the United States by radioiodine from the Chernobyl disaster (Map ‘A’ above) was in milk produced by cows grazing on pasture in Washington: 560 picocuries per liter. Customary levels are normally 2-3 picocuries per liter.

Fortunately, there is a cheap and effective preventative method to protect yourself and family from radioactive iodine.

Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets, taken a half hour or more before exposure, and then for the next 7-10 days, saturates your thyroid gland with safe stable iodine where if you then later inhale or ingest radioactive iodine your body simply eliminates it. It provides nearly 100% protection from radioiodine and resulting thyroid cell damage and abnormalities, such as loss of thyroid function, nodules in the thyroid, or thyroid cancer.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_iodide we see reported about KI use during Chernobyl event that:

Poland, 300 miles from Chernobyl, also gave out KI to protect its population. Approximately 18 million doses were distributed, with follow-up studies showing no known thyroid cancer among KI recipients. But time has shown that people living in irradiated areas where KI was not available have developed thyroid cancer at epidemic levels, which is why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported “The data clearly demonstrate the risks of thyroid radiation…KI can be used [to] provide safe and effective protection against thyroid cancer caused by irradiation.”

But equally important to the question of KI is the fact that radiation releases are not “local” events. Researchers at the World Health Organization accurately located and counted the cancer victims from Chernobyl and were startled to find that “the increase in incidence [of thyroid cancer] has been documented up to 500 km from the accident site…significant doses from radioactive iodine can occur hundreds of kilometers from the site, beyond emergency planning zones.” Consequently, far more people than anticipated were affected by the radiation, which caused the United Nations to report in 2002 that “The number of people with thyroid cancer…has exceeded expectations. Over 11,000 cases have already been reported.”

See the Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill FAQ for more details on the health concerns of radioactive iodine, especially to our children, and for sources of thyroid protecting KI tablets, including homemade alternatives if no KI tablets available, and you’ll also see why about.com says that FAQ is the…

“In-depth, detailed site totally dedicated to the Potassium Iodide issue is THE central resource on the topic.”
How radioactive fallout affects different food sources…

The following for farmers and ranchers, from the old USDA county defense boards, should help dispel some of the potential panic. Old fashioned from the early 1960’s, but physics and tactics of radiation and fallout protection are timeless. This guidance assumed nuclear explosion(s) and heavy fallout originating right here in the USA. Fallout originating from far overseas would be many magnitudes less dangerous, but the following is still very informative regarding the threat to, and vulnerability of, different livestock & crops that we all rely upon in the food chain. References to radioiodine below have been highlighted in blue.

Fallout on farm


How will fallout affect unprotected livestock, that is, animals in fields, postures, and other open areas?

Fallout may be dangerous to cattle, sheep, horses, pigs, and other livestock as well as to human beings. Radioactive materials in fresh fallout can contaminate the immediate environment and give off rays that can penetrate deep into the body. This is the major source of danger for livestock. Animals can also suffer skin burns if fallout settles in the coat. Skin burns could produce considerable discomfort, but would not endanger the lives of the animals.

Animals are about as sensitive to radiation damage as human beings; to survive, animals need the same protection as human beings.

When livestock must graze on fallout-contaminated pasture, supplemental feeding from non-contaminated forage can materially reduce the daily dose of radioactive material the animals will eat. Stored or stacked hay, ensilage from either silo or trench, and stored grain are safe supplemental feeds when they are protected from fallout contamination. When no shelter is available and when the level of radiation is only moderate, or food resources are scant, growers should, if possible, supply supplemental feeding and limit the grazing time.

When meat and dairy animals eat contaminated feed, some radioactive elements are absorbed into their bodies. Thus, man’s food supply of animal products can become contaminated with radioactivity.

How will fallout affect sheltered livestock?

Livestock housed in barns and other farm buildings during fallout have a better chance of surviving effects of radiation than those that are not sheltered. A reasonably well-built shelter reduces intensity of external radiation and prevents fallout from settling on the animals’ bodies. It also prevents animals from eating contaminated feed.

What Is the best way to protect livestock from fallout?

Move them indoors as soon as possible. If you do not have adequate facilities to house all animals, put some of them near farm buildings or in a small dry lot. Under these conditions the amount of space per animal in a barn should be reduced to the point of overcrowding. The limiting factor is ventilation and not space. The advantage is that the animals tend to shield each other enough that more will survive under crowded conditions than under normal housing. Large, protected self-feeders and automatic live- stock waterers can supply uncontaminated feed and water.

Areas within movable fences, and other small fenced areas that have covered feeders or self-feeders, can provide emergency confinement for farm animals after early external radiation intensity has decreased through decay.

Empty trench silos can be converted to livestock shelters by constructing a roof over the trench and covering it with earth.

Once fallout occurs, you should not attempt to protect livestock unless local civil defense authorities tell you that you will be safe when doing so.

Get your dairy cattle under cover first.

farmfig3.jpg (76844 bytes)

What water can I give livestock after fallout?

Water from a covered well, tank, or cistern, or from a freely running spring, is best. River water or pond water is less safe, but if necessary, it could be used after fallout has occurred. In a few days it would be safe. If, however, it should rain during this time, livestock should not be permitted access to pond water for an additional few days.

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Usually, fallout particles would settle promptly and soluble radioactive materials would diffuse in the water, reducing the contamination at the surface. If the water was constantly replenished from an uncontaminated source, radioactivity would be diluted rapidly.

To prevent contamination from fallout, do not add water to covered tanks unless the water is from a protected well or spring; first use the water originally present in the tanks.

Could I use water in an exposed pond?

Water in an exposed pond would be contaminated, but usually the level of contamination would decrease rapidly. Such water could be used for surface irrigation. It could also he used to wash off farm buildings and unsheltered livestock. Obtain drinking water for livestock from another source if possible.

What feed can I give livestock after fallout?

To protect feed adequately, cover it. Fallout is like dust or dirt; a cover will prevent it from coming in contact or mixing with the feed.

Grain stored in a permanent bin, hay in a barn, and ensilage in a covered silo are adequately protected. They can be used as soon as it is safe to get to them following fallout.

A haystack in an open field can be protected with a tarpaulin or similar covering.

If possible, give your livestock feed that does not contain fallout material. Fallout particles that settle on hay, silage, or a stack of feedbags will contaminate only the outer parts. You can remove the outer layers or bags, and use the inside feed that is unaffected.

You will be notified if local civil defense and agricultural authorities who measure concentrations of fallout consider the forage growing in your area is harmful. However, this advice might come too late in heavily contaminated areas. As a precautionary measure, house the livestock and do not let them graze.

You may have to give cows contaminated feed if no other feed is available. The milk from these cows should not be used by children, but when the cows are back on clean feed, the amount of radioactive material in their milk will progressively diminish.

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What can I do with contaminated feed?

How long feed should be stored depends on the type and concentration of the radioactive materials. If you have an alternate supply, do not use contaminated feed until told by authorities that it is safe to do so; then be sure to follow the precautions they may recommend.

Should dairy cows receive special treatment?

Yes. Because radioactive materials can be transferred to milk, which will be a critical product during an emergency, make a special effort to protect cows from fallout. Remove milking cows from pasture and feed them stored rations during the period of fresh fallout and for several weeks after. In this way, you will prevent iodine 131 from occurring in the milk, or reduce it to insignificant levels.

Give cows preferred shelter and clean feed and water. If you can, milk them before fallout occurs; you may not be able to do so for several days afterward. If you have calves on the farm turn them in with the cows. This will help prevent mastitis and conserve all the feed for the cows. Reduce amounts of water and concentrated feed to maintenance levels.

Construction plans are available through State extension agricultural engineers for a combination dairy barn and family fallout shelter. Although construction of this type is costly, such a facility might be considered for the protection of highly valued breeding stock.

The plans are designed in accordance with milk production ordinances. They provide for (1) a year-round production Unit that requires minimum change for emergency use, (2) a built-in family fallout protection area that allows the operator to care for animals during a fallout emergency, (3) all stored feed that is manually accessible to be inside the barn, (4) stored hay and straw for use as shielding, (5) temporary housing, feed, and water for other livestock, (6) an auxiliary generator for assuring electric power, and (7) a water supply inside the barn.

What measures should be taken to protect poultry?

Measures for protecting poultry are the same as those recommended for other farm animals.

Poultry are somewhat more resistant to radiation than other farm animals. Since most poultry are raised under shelter and given feed that has been protected or stored, and since poultry can be grown rapidly, they are one of the more dependable sources of fresh foods of animal origin that may be available following a nuclear attack.

Hens that eat contaminated feed will produce eggs that contain some radioactive elements. Radioactivity in eggs decreases shortly after the hens are removed from the contaminated environment and given uncontaminated feed and water.

What animal food products are safe to market after fallout?

You will receive specific instructions from local civil defense authorities based on the amount of fallout received. Do not destroy any animal food products unless spoilage has made them inedible. Milk should be safe to use if it is from cows that are adequately sheltered and protected and are fed rations of stored and protected feed and water. Milk from a fallout area where cows are not adequately protected or fed stored feed should not be given to children until civil defense authorities approve. Milk contaminated with iodine 131 can be processed into butter, cheese, and powdered or canned milk, and stored for a period of time to allow the radioactivity to decay.

Food animals whose bodies have been exposed to external radiation can be used for food if they are slaughtered before the onset of signs of radiation sickness. Also, they can be used after they have recovered from the ensuing illness. The same rules that govern the slaughter of animals sick from any cause should be followed. Care must be taken to prevent edible parts of the carcass from being contaminated by radioactive materials contained on the hide and in the digestive system.

What do I do if animals die from fallout radiation?

Some of your animals may be affected so severely by radiation from fresh fallout that they will die in a few days or weeks after being exposed. Do not slaughter any of your livestock unless you are told to do so by local civil defense authorities or USDA county defense boards. Bury animals that die. These carcasses usually are not dangerous to surviving people or animals by the time it is safe to work outside.

Is it possible to decontaminate livestock and farm buildings that have been exposed to fallout?

If there is fallout on the animals’ skins, the radioactive material can be washed off with water. It is not necessary to use clean water sources for this purpose. Take care to avoid contamination runoff.

Civil defense authorities or USDA county defense boards may advise you on decontamination procedures for your farm buildings. In handling animals, wear coveralls, gloves, and boots to prevent contaminating yourself. Cleaning or disinfecting buildings will not destroy radioactivity. However, cleaning can be useful in moving radioactive materials to a place where radiation will be less harmful. In cleaning, be careful to avoid contaminating yourself.


What are the main consequences of heavy concentration of fallout on crop and pasture lands?

– Farm workers may not be able to manage and cultivate land safely for some time, because of radiation hazard.

– It may not be advisable to permit animals to graze, because of the danger of radiation.

– Fresh fallout would provide surface contamination on all plants, resulting in potential hazard to human beings and animals consuming them.

– Radiation from fallout deposited on the leaves or the ground may damage the crop.

How long would fallout affect cultivated and non-cultivated lands?

It would depend on the abundance and type of radioactive materials in a given area. In the event of nuclear attack, radioactive iodine would be the most critical single factor in the contamination of milk during the first few weeks. After the first 60 days, the principal hazard would arise from strontium 89 and strontium 90. Strontium 89, however, will have virtually disappeared 17 months after its formation.

Like other radioactive isotopes of fallout, strontium 90 falls on the surface of plants and can be consumed with foods and forage. Some of it is deposited directly on the soil or washed into it, remaining indefinitely, for all practical purposes, in the top several inches of uncultivated land. Because it is chemically similar to calcium, radioactive strontium would be absorbed by all plants. Plants growing in soils deficient in calcium would absorb more radioactive strontium than those growing in soils abundant in calcium, other conditions being equal.

Are there soil treatments for reducing the fallout hazard on land?

Yes, but soil treatments should be given only after responsible authorities have carefully evaluated the situation and declared a state of emergency. The most effective treatment could be costly, and suitable only for intensively used land.

Other methods involve changes in generally accepted farm practices. Some measures could be simply an improvement over local conditions and procedures. For example, liming of acid soils could reduce the uptake of radioactive strontium in crops grown on those soils.

USDA soil scientists in the USDA county defense boards will provide guidance to farmers in determining best utilization of their land following nuclear attack.

Any use of the land must wait until external radiation levels are low enough for persons to work safely outdoors.

Would fallout permanently affect pasture grass and forage crops?

If fallout is extremely light, the pasture would be usable immediately. It is difficult to set an exact external dose rate at which it would be safe to return the animals to pasture, but if the dose for the first week of stay did not exceed 25 roentgens all animals would survive and could be handled with safety.

If fallout is heavy, external radiation would prohibit use of the pasture. A heavy deposit of fallout would spread short-lived and long-lived radioactive particles on the pasture and forage crops. Radiation might cause visible injury to plants. Some plants might die.

Existing growths of alfalfa and other forage crops might not be usable because of radiation hazard. If a radiation survey should indicate that contamination level is high, existing growth should be removed as close to the ground as possible and discarded; succeeding growths should be used only after examination for radioactivity. If the soil is acid, a top-dressing of lime would help reduce uptake of radioactive strontium in succeeding growths.

Livestock could be allowed to graze on lightly contaminated pasture after a waiting period that varies from one to a few weeks, the length of time depending on the degree of contamination.

Once it is safe to work the land, a periodic check on pasture and produce in affected areas would provide the best safety guide to their use.

Would fallout affect my system of farming?

It could. Seriously contaminated land may need to lie fallow for as long as a season. After this, fallout may require a change to non-food crops or to food crops that do not absorb large amounts of radioactive materials from the soil. Alfalfa, clover, soybeans, and leafy vegetables have a greater tendency to absorb long-lived radioactive strontium than cereal grains, grasses, corn, potatoes, and fruits. Guidance on suggested crops to plant will come from USDA county defense boards.

Would fallout reduce economic productivity of crop and pasture lands?

Fallout might reduce such productivity in several ways: (1) Crop and soil management could be impeded because of danger from external radiation; (2) some crops might be killed by contamination; (3) other crops might become contaminated to a degree where they would be unmarketable; and (4) economic value of food grown on contaminated land might be less than that of other competitive crops.

Images of Radiation

What are the effects of fallout on growing vegetables?

Growing vegetables that are exposed to heavy fallout may become highly contaminated. Leaves, pods, and fruits that retain fallout material should be cleaned before being eaten. Washing is probably the most effective measure, just as it is the best way to clean garden foods that get dirty from any other cause. Radiation from heavy fallout may affect plant growth. Roots and tubers absorb little contamination from fallout before it is mixed with the soil. The normal cleaning or peeling of underground vegetables such as potatoes or carrots would be adequate for removing fallout.

What are the effects of fallout on fruits?

If fallout is heavy, ripe fruits may be lost because of the personal hazard involved in harvesting them. Fruits that do not have to be picked immediately can be saved. They should be washed before they are eaten.

Would fallout limit use of plants for human food?

It depends on the extent of radioactivity. Leafy vegetables, such as lettuce, should not be eaten unless they are thoroughly washed, or are known to be free of hazardous amounts of radioactive materials.

What special precautions should be taken for workers in the fields?

You should remain indoors until danger from fallout has diminished and you have learned from local officials that it is all right to work outdoors.


By order of the President, the Secretary of Agriculture has put into effect defense services to protect farmer; their families, their livestock, and their agricultural productivity in event of a national emergency. The wide scope of these services enables them to function at all levels, national, State, county, and farm.

County Defense Boards

In preparing for a national emergency, the farmer may obtain guidance and assistance from his USDA county defense board. More than 3,000 of these boards are operating throughout the Nation. The USDA county defense boards receive direction from USDA State defense boards.

A USDA county defense board is composed of key USDA representatives in the county. The county office manager of the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service usually serves as chairman. Other board members may include representatives of the Cooperative Extension Service, the Farmers Home Administration, and the Soil Conservation Service. Representatives of the Forest Service, the Agricultural Research Service, and the Consumer and Marketing Service, where available, are also members of the board.

Each USDA county defense board is equipped to serve the farmer in many ways. In most counties, the board chairman is responsible for food production programs. He will see that guidance is available in emergency farming practices and in conserving farm equipment, fuel, and manpower; he also will help obtain essential services or material.

The Soil Conservation Service member of the board will advise and assist in the proper use of land and water; and the Farmers Home Administration member will help the farmer in credit problems that may arise. The county extension agent will provide education on survival practices and protective measures for the farmer, his family, and his livestock.

The board chairman, or one of the board members, will advise farmers regarding other programs of USDA agencies that are not represented on the board. This might include, for example, assistance in protection of livestock and crops against the spread of disease or rural fire defense. Generally, the board chairman is responsible for USDA programs relating to food processing, storage, and distribution.

USDA county defense boards will work closely with and support county authorities. Farmers can look to their local county civil defense officials as well as USDA county defense boards for guidance in national emergency programs.

Radiological Monitoring

Radiological monitoring is measurement of the levels of exposure by radiation present in nuclear fallout. Special instruments and people trained in their use are required for this work.

Monitoring services would be needed in the early period following a nuclear attack to determine intensity of radiation on the farm. If this intensity were high, monitoring services would be needed later to determine when farming activities should be resumed. Examples of this monitoring service are detection and measurement of radiological contamination of farmlands, harvestable crops, forest land, and water and protection and handling of farm animals.

State and local governments are responsible for establishing comprehensive radiological monitoring systems in inhabited and habitable areas to measure and report radiation intensities. This monitoring provides the basis for survival and recovery. USDA is directly responsible for certain specialized monitoring:

– At major meat and poultry inspection installations.

– Of forest lands, agricultural lands, and water.

– Of federally owned stored food.

One or more USDA monitoring stations are established in each county in the United States. They provide capability to perform monitoring assigned to USDA, and they will also supply part of the radiological information needed for planning and directing local survival and recovery operations.

Office of Civil Defense guidance and the USDA Radiological Monitoring Handbook provide details for the necessary coordinated effort at the county level. Simply stated, county civil defense and the USDA county defense boards are responsible for joint planning and post attack advice to the farm population on precautions to take to minimize radiation exposures associated with farm work; county civil defense is responsible for most of the monitoring, reporting, and analysis of the data; and the USDA county defense board applies USDA guidance adjusted to local conditions in recommending appropriate:

– Care or disposition of livestock.

– Use of agricultural lands and water.

– Use or disposition of agricultural commodities.

If you have a question about the detection of harmful radiation, you should contact your local civil defense official or the chairman of your USDA county defense board.

Bottom Line: Unfortunately, the federal government does not have large stocks of emergency KI tablets, nor is it likely what they do have can be gotten where it’s needed and then to those who need it… in-time. Also, they no longer support nuclear Civil Defense training of the public, the USDA county defense boards, or county level radiation monitoring networks and fallout shelters*, as they once did during the heights of the Cold War, and thus American families are largely on their own today to find this important guidance and make their own preparations.

For this reason, we’ve produced both our myth-busting expose…

The Good News About Nuclear Destruction! at http://www.ki4u.com/goodnews.htm

…and our popular & essential family guide for…

What To Do If A Nuclear Disaster Is Imminent! at http://www.ki4u.com/guide.htm

Pass copies of them, along with this ‘When An ill Wind Blows From Afar!’ guide to friends, neighbors, relatives, fellow workers, churches and community organizations with a brief note attached saying simply: “We hope/pray we never need this, but just-in-case, keep it handy!” Few nowadays will find that approach alarmist and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many are truly grateful.

Everyone should also forward copies of them to their local, state and federal elected representatives, as well as your own communities first-responders and local media, all to help spread this good news that’s liberating fellow American families from their paralyzing and potentially fatal myths of nuclear un-survivability!

* There is one county in America that has, on their own, re-instituted their public fallout shelters and local radiation monitoring network. Madison County – Huntsville, Alabama, home of our nations rocket scientists at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. See more about their efforts here.

Shane Connor is the CEO of www.ki4u.com
Consultants and developers of Civil Defense solutions to Government, NPO’s, and Individual Families.


Q: Quick Summary of FAQ.

A: Documentation and details of the following (and much more) are below in the FAQ:

* Radioactive Iodine (Radioiodine) is a major radioisotope constituent of both nuclear power plant accidents and nuclear bomb explosions and can travel hundreds of miles on the winds. Thyroid cancer attributable to Chernobyl “…has been documented up to 500 km from the accident site.” The maximum measured radioactive contamination of milk in the United States by radioiodine from the Chernobyl disaster was in milk produced by cows grazing on pasture in Washington: 560 picocuries per liter. Customary levels are normally 2-3 picocuries per liter.

* Even very small amounts of inhaled or ingested radioiodine can do grave damage as it will always concentrate, and be retained, in the small space of the thyroid gland. Eventually giving such a large radiation dose to thyroid cells there that abnormalities are likely to result, such as loss of thyroid function, nodules in the thyroid, or thyroid cancer. (Each year 12,000 Americans discover they have thyroid cancer, though from various assorted causes, and about 1000 die from it.)

* Chernobyl has shown, and continues to reveal, that the greatest danger from radioiodine is to the tiny thyroid glands of children. Researchers have found that in certain parts of Belarus, for example, 36.4 per cent of children, who were under the age of four at the time of the accident, can expect to develop thyroid cancer.

* Health experts now estimate that the greatest health concerns affecting the largest number of people from a nuclear accident, or nuclear bomb explosion(s) anywhere in the world, will likely be from the release of radioiodine that is then carried downwind for hundreds of miles. While there will also be many other dangerous radioisotopes released along with radioiodine, if they are inhaled or ingested they are normally dispersed throughout a body and pose less of a risk than if they were to be concentrated into one small specific area of the body, like radioiodine is in the thyroid gland. So, as a plume or cloud of radioactive isotopes disperses with the wind its danger also diminshes, but much less quickly so for radioiodine because whatever little there is left, that’s inhaled or ingested, will always then be concentrated into that small space of the thyroid gland.

* From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_iodide we see reported that:

Chernobyl also demonstrated that the need to protect the thyroid from radiation was greater than expected. Within ten years of the accident, it became clear that thyroid damage caused by released radioactive iodine was virtually the only adverse health effect that could be measured. As reported by the NRC, studies after the accident showed, that “As of 1996, except for thyroid cancer, there has been no confirmed increase in the rates of other cancers, including leukemia, among the…public, that have been attributed to releases from the accident.”

Researchers at the World Health Organization accurately located and counted the cancer victims from Chernobyl and were startled to find that “the increase in incidence [of thyroid cancer] has been documented up to 500 km from the accident site…significant doses from radioactive iodine can occur hundreds of kilometers from the site, beyond emergency planning zones.” Consequently, far more people than anticipated were affected by the radiation, which caused the United Nations to report in 2002 that “The number of people with thyroid cancer…has exceeded expectations. Over 11,000 cases have already been reported.”

* The good news is that taking either Potassium Iodide (KI) or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) before exposure will saturate (fill up) a persons thyroid gland with safe stable iodine to where there is no room for later uptake of radioactive iodine. Once the thyroid is saturated, then any additional iodine (radioactive or stable) that is later inhaled or ingested is quickly eliminated via the kidneys.

* From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_iodide we see reported about KI use during Chernobyl event that:

Poland, 300 miles from Chernobyl, also gave out KI to protect its population. Approximately 18 million doses were distributed, with follow-up studies showing no known thyroid cancer among KI recipients. But time has shown that people living in irradiated areas where KI was not available have developed thyroid cancer at epidemic levels, which is why the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported “The data clearly demonstrate the risks of thyroid radiation…KI can be used [to] provide safe and effective protection against thyroid cancer caused by irradiation.”

* The bad news is that after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl all available KI and KIO3 supplies disappeared for months, almost overnight! The KI and KIO3 market is very thin and current limited inventory will be quickly depleted in any nuclear emergency occuring anywhere in the world. (At www.ki4u.com we expect to be largely ‘out of business’ within days of any nuclear emergency simply because we’ll be totally sold-out with no illusions of getting re-supplied again any time soon!)

* Potassium Iodide (KI) and/or Potassium Iodate (KIO3) has already been stockpiled by most developed countries for future nuclear emergencies, they figured it out after Chernobyl, but here in the USA they’ve only just begun. (We sold 300,000 doses to HHS Office of Emergency Prepardness after 9/11, which represented half of our nations stockpile then.) However, very limited quantities will be available for individual purchase in the USA by the public after an ‘event’. (Potassium Iodide (KI) has long been recognized and approved by the FDA for sale for this purpose without a prescription. Unfortunately, it is an over-the-counter (OTC) drug that’s to be found on too few counters here in the USA!)

* KI is currently available on the internet www.ki4u.com.

* P.S.- KI or KIO3 would likely not be needed for the so-called ‘Dirty Bomb’ or RDD (Radiological Dispersal Device). Radioactive Iodine is only produced in quantity by a fission or fusion weapon detonation or in a Nuclear Power Plant as a byproduct of that process. There is some small medical radioactive iodine, but it’s impractical as a bomb component with its short half-life. An RDD simply spreads around existing radioactive material and it’s not very likely to have been composed of the relatively short half-life radioactive iodine. We’d more likely see used in an RDD a commercially abundant, and more easily obtained, isotope like Cobalt-60, Cesium-137 or uranium fuel rods, etc.

* See and read our latest report, detailing thyroid protection with KI from overseas fallout, here…
When An ill Wind Blows From Afar!

Q: What is Potassium Iodide (KI)?

A: Potassium Iodide (chemical name ‘KI’) is much more familiar to most than they might first expect. It is the ingredient added to your table salt to make it iodized salt.

Potassium Iodide (KI) is approximately 76.5% iodine.

For purposes of radiation protection the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) states in COMSECY-98-016 – FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE ON POTASSIUM IODIDE:

“In 1978, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found KI “safe and effective” for use in radiological emergencies and approved its over-the-counter sale.”

Most recently (November, 2001) the FDA states in Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies:

“FDA maintains that KI is a safe and effective means by which to prevent radioiodine uptake by the thyroid gland, under certain specified conditions of use, and thereby obviate the risk of thyroid cancer in the event of a radiation emergency.”

Click to Go to Top of Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill FAQ & iodine pills sources.

Q: How Does Potassium Iodide (KI) Pill Provide Anti-Radiation Protection?

A: Going back to June 23, 1966, the New England Journal of Medicine. Vol. 274 on Page 1442 states:

“The thyroid gland is especially vulnerable to atomic injury since radioactive isotopes of iodine are a major component of fallout.”

Cresson H. Kearny, the author of Nuclear War Survival Skills, Original Edition Published September, 1979, by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Facility of the U.S. Department of Energy (Updated and Expanded 1987 Edition) states on page 111:

“There is no medicine that will effectively prevent nuclear radiations from damaging the human body cells that they strike.

However, a salt of the elements potassium and iodine, taken orally even in very small quantities 1/2 hour to 1 day before radioactive iodines are swallowed or inhaled, prevents about 99% of the damage to the thyroid gland that otherwise would result. The thyroid gland readily absorbs both non-radioactive and radioactive iodine, and normally it retains much of this element in either or both forms.

When ordinary, non-radioactive iodine is made available in the blood for absorption by the thyroid gland before any radioactive iodine is made available, the gland will absorb and retain so much that it becomes saturated with non-radioactive iodine. When saturated, the thyroid can absorb only about l% as much additional iodine, including radioactive forms that later may become available in the blood: then it is said to be blocked. (Excess iodine in the blood is rapidly eliminated by the action of the kidneys.)”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) stated July 1, 1998 in USE OF POTASSIUM IODIDE IN EMERGENCY RESPONSE:

“Potassium iodide, if taken in time, blocks the thyroid gland’s uptake of radioactive iodine and thus could help prevent thyroid cancers and other diseases that might otherwise be caused by exposure to airborne radioactive iodine that could be dispersed in a nuclear accident.”

Federal Register. Vol. 43 Friday, December 15, 1978, states in Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in a Radiation Emergency:

“Almost complete (greater than 90%) blocking of peak radioactive iodine uptake by the thyroid gland can be obtained by the oral administration of … iodide …”

National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements. NCRP Report NO. 55. Protection of the Thyroid Gland in the Event of Releases of Radioiodine. August, 1979, Page 32:

“A major protective action to be considered after a serious accident at a nuclear power facility involving the release of radioiodine is the use of stable iodide as a thyroid blocking agent to prevent thyroid uptake of radioiodines.”

The recently updated (1999) World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Iodine Prophylaxis following Nuclear Accidents states:

“Stable iodine administered before, or promptly after, intake of radioactive iodine can block or reduce the accumulation of radioactive iodine in the thyroid.”

And, finally, the recently (November, 2001) released FDA document Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies states:

“The effectiveness of KI as a specific blocker of thyroid radioiodine uptake is well established (Il’in LA, et al., 1972) as are the doses necessary for blocking uptake. As such, it is reasonable to conclude that KI will likewise be effective in reducing the risk of thyroid cancer in individuals or populations at risk for inhalation or ingestion of radioiodines.”

Q: Is this the Magic Anti-Radiation Protection Pill?

A: Sorry, but there is no magic pill or medicine that will protect you from all radiation sources. In fact, as already stated above here:

“There is no medicine that will effectively prevent nuclear radiations from damaging the human body cells that they strike.”

Also, the recently (November, 2001) released FDA document Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies states:

“KI provides protection only for the thyroid from radioiodines. It has no impact on the uptake by the body of other radioactive materials and provides no protection against external irradiation of any kind. FDA emphasizes that the use of KI should be as an adjunct to evacuation (itself not always feasible), sheltering, and control of foodstuffs.”

Potassium Iodide (and Potassium Iodate, KIO3) will provide a very high level of thyroid protection, taken in time, for the specific radio-isotopes of iodine, which is expected by many to cause the majority of health concerns downwind from a nuclear emergency. (And, is the reason most all developed countries have stockpiled it.)

However, there are numerous other, and very dangerous, radioactive noble gases and/or radioactive fallouts that can be associated with nuclear emergencies. You are still exposed to inhale, ingest, or be radiated externally from any number of dangerous non-radioiodine sources.

If you are ever directed to evacuate in a nuclear emergency, do so immediately, regardless of whether you have taken Potassium Iodide (KI) or KIO3, or not.

Note: KI or KIO3 would likely not be needed for the so-called “Dirty Bomb” or RDD (Radiological Dispersal Device). Radioactive Iodine is only produced by a fission or fusion weapon detonation or in a Nuclear Power Plant as a byproduct of that process. An RDD simply spreads around existing radioactive material and it’s not very likely to have been composed of the relatively short half-life radioactive iodine. We’d more likely see used in an RDD a commercially abundant, and more easily obtained, isotope like Cobalt-60, Cesium-137 or uranium fuel rods, etc.

Q: Radioactive Iodine: Bad News / Good News!?!

A: The “bad news” first:

#1 – Radioactive iodine (predominantly iodine-131) is a major radioisotope constituent in nuclear power plants.

#2 – There are 103 currently active commercial nuclear reactors and 39 operating nonpower reactors in the United States. (434 worldwide as of 1998.) Additionlly, there are numerous other nuclear processing and storage facilities worldwide with the potential for accidents, too.

The, September 29, 1999, Tokaimura, Japan nuclear accident took place, not in a nuclear reactor power plant, but in an uranium processing plant.
Tokaimura Japan Radioactive iodine-131 gases were confirmed to have been released and was the primary reason for 320,000 Japanese confined to their homes with their windows shut. It was also why you may have seen photos of Japanese authorities examining scores of children with geiger counters pressed against their necks.

#3 – Radioactive iodine (predominantly iodine-131) is also a major constituent of detonated nuclear weapons.

#4 – Radioactive iodine can not only travel hundreds of miles on the winds, but also still remain health threatening even as other radioisotopes are becoming dispersed and diluted along with it and their likelyhood of causing harm diminishes. It is often overlooked that while there will also be many other dangerous radioisotopes released along with radioiodine, if they are inhaled or ingested they are normally dispersed throughout a body and pose less of a risk than if they were to be concentrated into one small specific area of the body, like radioiodine is in the thyroid gland. As a plume or cloud of radioactive isotopes disperses with the wind its danger also diminshes, but always much less quickly so for radioiodine because whatever little there is that’s inhaled will always be concentrated into that small space of the thyroid gland.

NUREG-1633 points out an increase in thyroid cancer caused by radioiodine from Chernobyl…

“…was detected in Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine. Notably, this increase, seen in areas more than 150 miles (300 km) from the site, continues to this day and primarily affects children who were 0-14 years old at the time of the accident…the vast majority of the thyroid cancers were diagnosed among those living more than 50 km (31 miles) from the site.” chernobyl wind drift,Potassium Iodide Radiation Protection FAQ & iodine pills sources.

The recently updated (1999) World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Iodine Prophylaxis following Nuclear Accidents states in its abstract regarding thyroid cancer caused by the Chernobyl disaster:

“This increase in incidence has been documented up to 500 km from the accident site.”

…and therefore…

“…that stockpiling (KI or KIO3) is warranted, when feasible, over much wider areas than normally encompassed by emergency planning zones, and that the opportunity for voluntary purchase be part of national plans.”

Many are coming to see now that relying on the current U.S. policy of public safety contingency plans focused on only protecting the populations inside a small “Emergency Planning Zone” (EPZ) of 5 to 10 miles around U.S. nuclear power plants is “overly optimistic”, to put it very mildly.

Undoubtably, US nuclear power plants are much better designed, operated, and safer than many others elsewhere in the world, and certainly many magnitudes safer than the Chernobyl operation ever was. But, that doesn’t mean much anymore when we aren’t just concerned with just accidents, but now sabotage or terrorist attacks, too.

Without anyone debating here how likely anything is to ever go wrong, it must still be accepted by all that the logic of even having any EPZ’s established is to effectively provide for the public safety in that rarest of events if/when anything did go wrong. If that’s why we’ve even bothered with having any EPZ’s at all, then shouldn’t they be effective ones, if/when it’s ever really needed to protect the public downwind? Reality is, the wind just won’t know to stop blowing when it comes up against the currently tiny 5-10-50 mile EPZ ‘barriers’. (Find your upwind nuclear power plants and daily updated plant status reports here.)

Also, read the fascinating Three Mile Island: The Rest of the Story… (Why current EPZ’s are much too small.)

The wind, of course, doesn’t respect state boundaries either as our own Nevada atomic bomb testing program in the 1950s and early 1960s made it possible that “…everyone living in the contiguous 48 states was exposed to low levels of 131Iodine (radioiodine) for several months following each nuclear bomb test.” (Radiation Exposure and Thyroid Cancer – Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center) Even more importantly; “The report also estimates that children aged three to five years probably received doses of radiation three to seven times higher than average during the 90 nuclear tests that were carried out.”

Remember, it’s always the children who are at the highest risk of injury from radioactive iodine and eventually developing thyroid cancer from that exposure. Each year, more than 12,000 Americans find out they have thyroid cancer, though from various causes. About 1000 here in the U.S. die from it yearly.

Are you pointing to where your family lives?

National Cancer Institute Study Estimating Thyroid Doses of I-131
Received by Americans From Nevada Atmospheric Nuclear Bomb Tests

The NCI’s ‘worst case’ estimate is that fallout from nuclear weapons
testing likely generated from 10,000 to 75,000 cases of thyroid cancer!

Physicians for Social Responsibility: Critique of NCI Report

And, of course, the wind also doesn’t respect international boundaries either, nor even continents and oceans, as fallout from a single above ground Chinese nuclear test explosion (“a few hundred kilotons”) on December 28, 1966 resulted in the fallout cloud covering most of the United States.

From Cresson H. Kearny’s Nuclear War Survival Skills:

“It produced fallout that by January 1, 1967 resulted in the fallout cloud covering most of the United States. This one Chinese explosion produced about 15 million curies of iodine- 131 – roughly the same amount as the total release of iodine- 131 into the atmosphere from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster.”

“Fallout from the approximately 300 kiloton Chinese test explosion shown in Fig. 1 caused milk from cows that fed on pastures near Oak Ridge, Tennessee and elsewhere to be contaminated with radioiodine, although not with enough to be hazardous to health. However, this milk contamination (up to 900 picocuries of radioactive iodine per liter) and the measured dose rates from the gamma rays emitted from fallout particles deposited in different parts of the United States indicate that trans-Pacific fallout from even an overseas nuclear war in which “only” two or three hundred megatons would be exploded could result in tens of thousands of unprepared Americans suffering thyroid injury.” (Declassified Fallout Map and full story text in Nuclear War Survival Skills at Trans-Pacific Fallout)

Getting Back To The Future…

Commenting on the world health effects a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would create, for example, Dr. Henry Kendall of the Union of Concerned Scientists said in October of 1999: “It would be very similar to Cherynobl. But it could be on a substantially larger scale.”

Accordingly, you also have to assess the probable threat from nuclear war, either directed at the U.S. or fallout contamination originating from elsewhere in the world. Russia, China, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Iran, Israel, etc., where any of them are exchanging nuclear blasts with any of their neighbors, could have the prevailing west-to-east trade winds carrying the resultant radioactive fallout to our shores, too.

You’ll have to decide whether that’s an impossible scenario in your families lifetime, or not. And, then prepare accordingly.

#5 – Radioactive iodine (radioiodine) persists in the environment for a month or more.

#6 – Most importantly, ingested or inhaled radioactive iodine (radioiodine) persists in the body and concentrates in the thyroid. (Excess iodine in the blood, either radioiodine or stable iodine, is quickly eliminated from the body, but only after the thyroid has become saturated with one or the other type of iodine.) Even very small amounts of radioactive iodine, because it is retained in the small space of the thyroid, eventually will give such a large radiation dose to thyroid cells there that abnormalities are likely to result. These would include loss of thyroid function, nodules in the thyroid, or thyroid cancer. The most likely to see the worst effects, in later life, are the youngest children. (Many of the Chernobyl thyroid cancers appearing in the former Soviet Union among young people today were just children less than five years old at the time of the accident. Experts now contend that as high as 40% of the nodules are cancerous with 5 to 10 percent of the cancers fatal.)

Every year researchers are discovering more from Chernobyl as its legacy continues to reveal itself. According to the World Health Organization, that disaster will cause 50,000 new cases of thyroid cancer among young people living in the areas most affected by the nuclear disaster. Researchers have also found that in certain parts of Belarus, for example, 36.4 per cent of children, who were under the age of four at the time of the accident, can expect to develop thyroid cancer.

For all of the above reasons, health experts estimate that the greatest health concerns affecting the largest number of people from a nuclear accident, or nuclear bomb explosion(s) anywhere in the world, will likely be from the release of radioactive iodine then carried downwind.

However, there really is some Good News amongst all this!

This deadly cancer agent, especially to our children, is easily, cheaply, and effectively blocked!

As mentioned above;

“…a salt of the elements potassium and iodine, taken orally even in very small quantities 1/2 hour to 1 day before radioactive iodines are swallowed or inhaled, prevents about 99% of the damage to the thyroid gland that otherwise would result.”
Potassium Iodide Radiation Protection FAQ & iodine pills sources.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) states in COMSECY-98-016 – FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE ON POTASSIUM IODIDE:

The Chernobyl accident demonstrated that thyroid cancer can indeed be a major result of a large reactor accident. Moreover, although the Food and Drug Administration declared KI “safe and effective” as long ago as 1978, the drug had never been deployed on a large scale until Chernobyl. The experience of Polish health authorities during the accident has provided confirmation that large scale deployment of KI is safe.

Additionally, it goes on to say:

The revised policy also reflects wide scale change in international practice following the Chernobyl disaster, specifically 1989 World Health Organization recommendations (updated in 1995) and 1996 and 1997 International Atomic Energy Agency standards and guidance, which have led to use of KI as a supplementary protective measure in much of Europe, as well as in Canada and Japan.

Also, the newly released (November, 2001) FDA document entitled: Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies states:

“Thus, the studies following the Chernobyl accident support the etiologic role of relatively small doses of radioiodine in the dramatic increase in thyroid cancer among exposed children. Furthermore, it appears that the increased risk occurs with a relatively short latency. Finally, the Polish experience supports the use of KI as a safe and effective means by which to protect against thyroid cancer caused by internal thyroid irradiation from inhalation of contaminated air or ingestion of contaminated food and drink when exposure cannot be prevented by evacuation, sheltering, or food and milk control.”

What they learned was that children, with their thyroid glands being the most sensitive to radioactive iodine uptake, have today grown up to be the most frequent victims of thyroid cancers there. The children in Russia, the Ukraine and Belarus, where potassium iodide (KI) was not widely distributed, are now experiencing high levels of thyroid cancer. However, in Poland, where over 18 million doses of Potassium Iodide (KI) were administered, and to 97 percent of the children, there has been no similar increase in thyroid cancer. Also, key to Poland’s radioiodine protective strategy, was their aggressive interdiction of radioiodine contaminated food stuffs and milk.

Bottom Line: For all its serious potential for widespread damage to populations (and especially among our youngest), far downwind from the site of a nuclear event, radioiodine health concerns can be largely neutralized by inexpensive thyroid blocking via prompt prophylactic use of potassium iodide (KI). This, in addition to successful evacuation, when indicated, and vigilance that food and milk are not also radioiodine contaminated, has proven itself the best combination strategy.

Potassium iodide (iodine) anti radiation protection pills, tablets, medicine. FAQ with iodine sources.

Click to Go to Top of Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill FAQ & iodine pills sources.

Q: Dosage and Safety Regarding Potassium Iodide (KI) Usage?

A: In April of 1982 the Bureau of Radiological Health and Bureau of Drugs, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services released “FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS, Potassium Iodide As A Thyroid-Blocking Agent In A Radiation Emergency: Recommendations On Use”. These lengthy recommendations are summarized in the FDA’s “mandated patient product insert”. (See a complete copy below.) This insert is packed with every bottle of non-prescription Potassium Iodide (KI) tablets sold. However, the lengthy FDA recommendations contain many facts not mentioned in this required insert, including the following:

“Based on the FDA adverse reaction reports and an estimated 48 x 106 [48 million] 300-mg doses of potassium iodide administered each year [in the United States], the NCRP [National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements] estimated an adverse reaction rate of from 1 in a million to 1 in 10 million doses.”

(It should be pointed out that this extremely low adverse reaction rate is for doses over twice as large as the 130-mg prophylactic dose.)

NOTE: The following ‘old’ FDA Recommendations were recently revised, but we share them here for any that wish to compare them with the current recommendations. See details and link to the newer (November, 2001) FDA guidelines immediately below this grey box.


(Potassium Iodide Tablets, U.S.P.)

(Pronounced poe-TASS-e-um EYE-oh-dyed)

(Abbreviated KI)






Use only as directed by State or local public health authorities in the event of a radiation emergency.



OLDER: One (1) tablet once a day. Crush for small children.

BABIES UNDER ONE YEAR OF AGE: One-half (1/2) tablet once a day. Crush first.

DOSAGE: Take for 10 days unless directed otherwise by State or local public health authorities.

Store at controlled room temperature between 15 and 30C (59 degrees to 86 degrees F). Keep bottle tightly closed and protect from light.


POTASSIUM IODIDE SHOULD NOT BE USED BY PEOPLE ALLERGIC TO IODIDE. Keep out of the reach of children. In case of overdose or allergic reaction, contact a physician or public health authority.


Each (company trade name) Tablet contains 130 mg. of potassium iodide.


Certain forms of iodine help your thyroid gland work right. Most people get the iodine they need from foods like iodized salt or fish. The thyroid can “store” or hold only a certain amount of iodine.

In a radiation emergency, radioactive iodine may be released in the air. This material may be breathed or swallowed. It may enter the thyroid gland and damage it. The damage would probably not show itself for years. Children are most likely to have thyroid damage.

If you take potassium iodide, it will fill up your thyroid gland. This reduces the chance that harmful radioactive iodine will enter the thyroid gland.


The only people who should not take potassium iodide are people who know they are allergic to iodide. You may take potassium iodide even if you are taking medicines for a thyroid problem (for example, a thyroid hormone or anti-thyroid drug). Pregnant and nursing women and babies and children may also take this drug.


Potassium iodide should be taken as soon as possible after public health officials tell you. You should take one dose every 24 hours. More will not help you because the thyroid can “hold” only limited amounts of iodine. Larger doses will increase the risk of side effects. You will probably be told not to take the drug for more than 10 days.


Usually, side effects of potassium iodide happen when people take higher doses for a long time. You should be careful not to take more than the recommended dose or take it for longer than you are told. Side effects are unlikely because of the low dose and the short time you will be taking the drug.

Possible side effects include skin rashes, swelling of the salivary glands, and “iodism” (metallic taste, burning mouth and throat, sore teeth and gums, symptoms of a head cold, and sometimes stomach upset and diarrhea).

A few people have an allergic reaction with more serious symptoms. These could be fever and joint pains, or swelling of parts of the face and body and at times severe shortness of breath requiring immediate medical attention.

Taking iodide may rarely cause overactivity of the thyroid gland, underactivity of the thyroid gland, or enlargement of the thyroid gland (goiter).


If the side effects are severe or if you have an allergic reaction, stop taking potassium iodide. Then, if possible, call a doctor or public health authority for instructions.


Tablets (Potassium Iodide Tablets, U.S.P.): bottles of [number of tablets in a bottle] tablets

( ). Each white, round, scored tablet contains 130 mg. potassium iodide.

The FDA new (November, 2001) guidance document, that brings it more in-line with the recent World Health Organization recommendations below, is titled; “Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies”.

It can be seen here fda.htm. That document represents the Food and Drug Administration’s current thinking on this topic.

In regards to the differences between the World Health Organization dosing recommendations and these new FDA recommendations, this FDA document states:

These FDA recommendations differ from those put forward in the World Health Organization (WHO) 1999 guidelines for iodine prophylaxis in two ways. WHO recommends a 130-mg dose of KI for adults and adolescents (over 12 years). For the sake of logistical simplicity in the dispensing and administration of KI to children, FDA recommends a 65-mg dose as standard for all school-age children while allowing for the adult dose (130 mg, 2 X 65 mg tablets) in adolescents approaching adult size. The other difference lies in the threshold for predicted exposure of those up to 18 years of age and of pregnant or lactating women that should trigger KI prophylaxis. WHO recommends a threshold of 1 cGy for these two groups. As stated earlier, FDA has concluded from the Chernobyl data that the most reliable evidence supports a significant increase in the risk of childhood thyroid cancer at exposures of 5 cGy or greater.

*Adolescents approaching adult size (> 70 kg) should receive the full adult dose (130 mg).

The World Health Organization recent recommendations has a step increase in doses by age (chart below) and also states the potential benefit diminishes with older adults. In fact, if only a limited number of Potassium Iodide (KI) or KIO3 tablets are available, these should always be given to infants, children and young adults first as they are the most vulnerable and also the risk of thyroid cancer fully developing begins to drop off with adults much over 40 years of age.

The World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Iodine Prophylaxis following Nuclear Accidents states:

“In general, the potential benefit of iodine prophylaxis will be greater in the young, firstly because the small size of the thyroid means that a higher radiation dose is accumulated per unit intake of radioactive iodine. Secondly, the thyroid of the fetus, neonate and young infant has a higher yearly thyroid cancer risk per unit dose than the thyroid of an adult and, thirdly, the young will have a longer time span for the expression of the increased cancer risk.”

Also, the newly released (November, 2001) FDA document entitled Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies determined from the Chernobyl data that:

“They suggest that the risk of thyroid cancer is inversely related to age, and that, especially in young children, it may accrue at very low levels of radioiodine exposure.” and also that “…adults over 40 need take KI only in the case of a projected large internal radiation dose to the thyroid (>500 cGy) to prevent hypothyroidism.”

Dosing chart from the recently updated 1999 World Health Organization:
Guidelines for Iodine Prophylaxis following Nuclear Accidents

Age Group Mass of iodine
mg Mass of KI
mg Mass of KIO3
mg Fraction of
100 mg tablet
Adults and adolescents
(over 12 years) 100 130 170 1
(3-12 years) 50 65 85 1/2
(1 month to 3 years) 25 32 42 1/4
(birth to 1 month) 12.5 16 21 1/8

To help make sense of any possible dosing confusion and radiation level thresholds, it should be remembered first that you should not commence dosing until so directed by a doctor or public health officials. Also, the biggest difference in dosage and ages, between the two recommendations, is that WHO suggests an adult dose (130mg KI) for everyone over 12 where the FDA suggests an adult dose for everyone over 18, unless the adolescent weighs 70kg (154 lbs) or more. And, again, the primary reason for this divergence from the WHO recommendations is that, according to the FDA: For the sake of logistical simplicity in the dispensing and administration of KI to children, FDA recommends a 65-mg dose as standard for all school-age children while allowing for the adult dose (130 mg, 2 X 65 mg tablets) in adolescents approaching adult size.

At the WHO dosages recommended above, an adverse reaction rate of less than 1 in 10 million children and less than 1 in 1 million adults is expected. However, Potassium Iodide should not be used by people allergic to iodine. According to the WHO, contraindications for use of potassium iodide are: (1) past or present thyroid disease (e.g., active hyperthyroidism), (2) known iodine hypersensitivity, (3) dermatitis herpetiformis, and (4) hypocomplementaemic vasculitis.

You should also check with your doctor before taking this medication if you have myotonia or hyperkalemia congenita or tuberculosis or kidney disease. See http://www.mayoclinic.com/ for more information.

Pregnant women should consult a physician prior to continuing dosages for more than two days. According to the WHO, “No negative consequences are to be expected after one or two doses of stable iodine. However, especially in areas with dietary iodine deficiency, prolonged dosage could lead to maternal and/ or fetal thyroid blockage, with possible consequences for fetal development. … Pregnant women with active hyperthyroidism must not take stable iodine because of the risk of fetal thyroid blockage.”

For pregant or nursing women, and for cautions to the proper dosing of neonates, also read the appropriate sections here in the newly released (November, 2001) FDA document entitled Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies.

The WHO also states, and the FDA concurs, “Side effects in other parts of the body, such as gastrointestinal effects or hypersensitivity reactions, may occur but are generally mild and can be considered of minor importance.”

One additional recommendation we urge at KI4U, now before any nuclear emergencies, is simply to check with your doctor and inquire whether there is any possibility of any adverse reactions if you, or your children, had to begin taking KI or KIO3. If you are concerned enough to be reading this and considering acquiring KI or KIO3 for your family, then checking with your doctor first should be a natural step in your prudent preparations, too.

Besides contraindications with pre-exisiting medical conditions, this is also important if you (or they) are taking any regular medications. Especially, though not limited to, Spironolactone (like Aldactone), Triamterene (Dyrenium), Amiloride (Midamor), or medicines for an overactive thyroid, or if you are on medications with any lithium-based or potassium-sparing diuretics.

Better to have gotten that assurance from your physician now, before any emergencies, rather than risk hesitating taking it later (or possibly suffering an adverse reaction) because you didn’t ask first. Again, that’s just a part of your prudent preparations, where anyone else being issued Potassium Iodide (KI) during an emergency probably won’t have that opportunity to find out first!

We have a fair number of medical doctors (often initially sent by their patients), pharmacists, health physicists, and medical schools refer to this FAQ. We are very grateful for the medical communities generous suggestions, and additional related research we’ve received or have been pointed to. We invite any/all input from the medical community to better fine-tune or expand the research documented at the Potassium Iodide Anti-Radiation Pill FAQ. -Shane Connor.

Q: Is Iodized Salt, Tincture of Iodine, Water Purification Tabs, or other Iodine Sources Effective?

A: Any dietary iodine sources providing for a normal daily sufficient regimen of iodine intake (about 150 micrograms/day in adults) is preferred in that it will then take less stable iodine (and time) to saturate your thyroid in a nuclear emergency and there will be less room there for radioactive iodine before you do. An iodine sufficient diet will also greatly increase the effectiveness of KI or KIO3, but primarily only in the following limited context and not as a substitute for KI or KIO3:

An iodine sufficient diet is most beneficial, compared to an insufficient iodine diet, when the initial administration of KI had been unavoidably delayed and the KI could only be first taken after exposure to radioiodine.

From the Health Physics Journal, Volume 78 No. 6, June 2000, “EFFECTS OF TIME OF ADMINISTRATION AND DIETARY IODINE LEVELS ON POTASSIUM IODIDE (KI) BLOCKADE OF THYROID IRRADIATION BY 131-I FROM RADIOACTIVE FALLOUT” Pat B. Zanzonico and David V. Becker (Read abstract by searching title at Health Physics Journal):

“The 131-I thyroid absorbed dose is two-fold greater with insufficient levels of dietary iodine, 2,900 cGy/37 MBq, than with sufficient levels of dietary iodine, 1,500 cGy/37 MBq. When KI is administered 48 h or less before 131-I intake, the thyroid absorbed doses (in cGy/37 MBq) are comparably low with both sufficient and insufficient dietary iodine levels. When KI is administered after 131-I intake, however, the protective effect of KI is less and decreases more rapidly with insufficient than with sufficient dietary iodine. For example, KI administration 2 and 8 h after 131-I intake yields protective effects of 80 and 40%, respectively, with iodine-sufficient diets, but only 65 and 15% with iodine-deficient diets.”

However, in regards to the effective thyroid-blocking protection directly afforded by various sources of dietary iodine, and other iodine applications, taken alone without also utilizing KI or KIO3, it was found…

From the Salt Institue:

“U.S. salt producers use potassium iodide at a level of 0.006% to 0.01% KI.”

According to Morton? Salt:

“Each 1/4 teaspoon serving of Morton? Iodized Salt (1.5 gram weight) contains 130 MICROGRAMS of Potassium Iodide.”

Thus, to achieve an intake of 130 MILLIGRAMS of Potassium Iodide (what one KI adult dose tablet contains) would require ingesting 250 teaspoons or over 5 cups of iodized salt per day! Don’t even think about it! (Morton Lite Salt? Mixture comes in lower yet, at only 90 MICROGRAMS of Potassium Iodide per 1/4 teaspoon!)

Sea Salt is an even worse ‘option’. Iodine per Kilogram of sea salt is about 3 mg. You’d be looking at over 33 kilograms of Sea Salt a day to achieve the amount of iodine in a 130 mg dose of KI! Hardly an option!

A 6-ounce portion of ocean fish only contains about 500 MICROGRAMS of iodine. Some specific seafoods, portion size and their iodine content in MICROGRAMS: Mackerel 150g 255 mcg, Mussels 150g 180 mcg, Cod 150g 165 mcg, Kipper 150g 107 mcg, Whiting 150g 100 mcg, Fish fingers 75g 75 mcg, Scampi 150g 62 mcg, Herring 150g 48 mcg, Prawns 150g 42 mcg, Sardines, canned in oil 150g 35 mcg, Trout 150g 24 mcg, Tuna 150g 21 mcg.

Well, you can do the math here! More fish per day would be required than most eat in a year!

Kelp Tablets…hardly. Solgar? Kelp Tablets, for example, contain only 225 MICROGRAMS of iodine! (Fortunately, it is also available in a 1000 tablet bottle, unfortunately though, you’d need to be swallowing 442 of them per day and likely not wander too far from a bathroom!)

Medicines containing Potassium Iodide: Potassium iodide (KI) is an old drug used as an expectorant in the treatment of asthma, bronchitis and emphysema. It is used to treat coughs with phlegm, feeling of fullness in the chest or pressure in the face/sinuses. Potassium iodide helps loosen phlegm (mucus) and thin bronchial secretions to drain bronchial tubes and make coughs more productive. It increases secretions in the respiratory tract in approximately 30 min. Today it is mainly used to treat an overactive thyroid and, of course, to protect the thyroid gland from the effects of radiation from inhaled or ingested (swallowed) radioactive iodine. Potassium iodide also has anti-infective properties and is sometimes used to treat certain skin conditions caused by fungus, like toenail fungus.

PIMA (Fleming & Company) and SSKI (Upsher-Smith Laboratories, Inc.) are both available in tablets or liquid, but only with a prescription. Another, that used to be a non-prescription cough and expectorant medicine available over-the-counter (OTC) is Pediacof Cough made by Sterling Health, a Division of Miles, Inc. Common 5 ml dose contains Chlorpheniramine 0.75 mg, Codeine 5 mg, Phenylephrine 2.5 mg, Potassium Iodide 75 mg.

Any of the above may or may not be available from your local pharmacy with a prescription from your doctor. We can’t and don’t recommend you ever take any drug for any reason other than what it was intended for, nor that the suggested dosages should ever be exceeded. There may be other OTC medicines containing Potassium Iodide on the market as well, please pass them on here if you discover any.

Also, FYI, Potassium Iodide can be found in some livestock preparations, too, such as Equi-Tussin, which is a liquid expectorant and aromatic oil supplement for horses. It contains 125 mg of Potassium Iodide per fluid ounce, but it also contains Molasses, Mentholated Syrup of White Pine, Eucalyptus Oil, Peppermint Oil, Glyceryl Guiacolate and Ammonium Chloride and is obviously formulated for horses, not people. You might want to keep this in mind, though, for protecting your livestock and pets.

Regarding ingesting (drinking/swallowing) iodine, iodine tablets (widely sold for water purification), tincture of iodine, or Povidone-iodine solutions (like the Betadine? brand solution): Cresson H. Kearny, the author of Nuclear War Survival Skills, Original Edition Published September, 1979, by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a Facility of the U.S. Department of Energy (Updated and Expanded 1987 Edition) states on page 115:

Elemental (free) iodine is poisonous, except in the very small amounts in water disinfected with iodine tablets or a few drops of tincture of iodine. Furthermore, elemental iodine supplied by iodine tablets and released by tincture of iodine dropped into water is not effective as a blocking agent to prevent thyroid damage. If you do not have any potassium iodide, DO NOT TAKE IODINE TABLETS OR TINCTURE OF IODINE.

Iodine is normally used in doses of 8 PPM to treat clear water for a 10 minute contact time. The effectiveness and safety of this dose has been shown in numerous studies. As far back as 1953 in the study “Test of chronic toxicity of iodine as related to the purification of water”. U.S. Armed Forces medical journal, 1953, 4:725-728 Morgan DP, Karpen RJ., it was shown that:

“No adverse health effects were reported in men who drank water providing iodide at doses of 0.17-0.27 mg/kg of body weight per day for 26 weeks”

That works out to a reported safe ingestion of elemental iodine via treated water of between 14 and 22 mg per day for an 180 lb adult. To attempt to achieve a thyroid-blocking dose of nearly 100 mg of iodine (the iodine content of a 130 mg KI tablet) would thus require exceeding that proven safe level by a factor of at least four to seven times for an 180 lb adult. And, this would be with potentially poisonous elemental free iodine that is also claimed above by Cresson H. Kearny to be “…not effective as a blocking agent to prevent thyroid damage.”

Additionally, USP tincture of iodine contains 2% iodine and 2.4% sodium iodide dissolved in 50% ethyl alcohol and according to the National Academy of Sciences in Drinking Water and Health. Vol. 3. Washington, DC, National Academy Press, 1980.

Doses of 30-250 ml of tincture of iodine (about 16-130 mg of total iodine per kg of body weight) have been reported to be fatal.

The small typical one ounce bottle of tincture of iodine contains about two tablespoons or approximately 30 ml of fluid. (The larger pint bottles contain 473 ml.) To a small child, ingesting the small 1 ounce bottle, even if well diluted to make it palatable, could prove fatal.

Everyone needs to understand that all ‘tincture of iodine’ bottles are clearly marked “POISON” for a very good reason. Ingesting elemental free iodine, such as ‘tincture of iodine’, in quantities sufficient to attempt thyroid-blocking in a nuclear emergency is not a safe, nor an effective, alternative.

Finally, if someone does attempt thyroid-blocking for themselves or their children by ingesting iodine, iodine water purification tablets, tincture of iodine, or Povidone-iodine solutions (like the Betadine? brand solution), and we are strongly advising against it, they can look forward to:

* shock (potentially fatal lowering of blood pressure)
* extreme thirst
* metallic taste
* sore teeth, gums and mouth
* severe headache
* fever
* no urine output (kidney failure)
* corrosive effects on the gastrointestinal tract
* esophageal stricture, asphyxiation (swelling of the throat, esophagus)
* vomiting
* diarrhea
* abdominal pain with internal damage
* delirium
* stupor

Then, be prepared to call the Poison Control center for further guidance.
DO NOT INDUCE VOMITING. Give milk, cornstarch, or flour by mouth (15 gm in 500 ml, or just over a pint of water). Continue to give milk every 15 minutes.

And, at the Emergency Room expect some or all of the following procedures to be performed: Gastric lavage (depending on the extent of esophageal injury), establish and maintain airway, be given milk every 15 minutes, and treatment for the symptoms.


Topical Iodine Applications

There has been some interesting research, though, with both humans and dogs into topically (on the skin) applied Povidone-Iodine (10%) solution (such as Betadine? or Povidex? solutions), and also with tincture of iodine, to test the absorption rates of iodine directly through the skin. But, it was found not to be as quick in providing thyroid blocking as oral Potassium Iodide (KI) or KIO3, nor as consistent, and then, often, at lower levels of protection. Questions remain of skin irritation, determining the amount of Iodine solution to apply, where best to apply it, how long to apply it, and the effects of temperature and humidity on absorption through the skin. Also, insufficient testing has been done on specific groups, such as infants, children, and pregnant and nursing women to know how effective it would be and the full range of complications that could be expected with repeated applications. For instance, the skin absorption of iodine products in neonates with inhibition of thyroid function has been documented in the past. The use of Povidone-Iodine is the most frequent cause of this type of intoxication. Another study showed that Povidone-Iodine did not significantly influence neonatal thyroid function if they were used to a full term neonate only once and even to a wide skin surface.

Another source, non-medical, claims that by using the stronger 7% tincture iodine and just dipping the index finger of the person being treated up to the first knuckle (just above the fingernail) would provide the proper dosing. They claim this would work for all people as our fingers are roughly proportionate to our size and weight. That may be true, but that this technique would actually provide sufficient quantity and effective absorption of iodine for thyroid-blocking has not been verified. (Additional documentation and source references have been requested of that author. And, will be promptly posted here if provided.)

Clearly more research is needed before embracing the topically applied techniques as a one-size-fits-all solution, as its limitations must first be more fully understood. However…

According to research by Health Physicist Ken Miller, Hershey Medical Center, using 24 healthy adult male subjects, an adult could get a blocking dose of stable iodine by painting 8 ml of a 2 percent tincture of Iodine on the abdomen or forearm approximately 2 hours prior to I-131 contamination. The abstract of his study titled “Effectiveness of Skin Absorption of Tincture of I in Blocking Radioiodine from the Human Thyroid Gland” from Health Physics, June 1989, Vol. 56, No. 6, pages 911-914, (To read abstract, search the title of the article here) states:

“Although there were large variations within each subject group in regard to serum-I levels and thyroid uptakes, the increase in serum-I concentration after topical-I application was effective in reducing the thyroid uptake of I131. The authors conclude that in the absence of KI, most humans would benefit from topical application of tincture of-I, and that in some the effectiveness would equal that of oral KI.”

Hmmm… interesting Plan “B”(Betadine?) possibilities here, if in a pinch!

This author continues to see e-mails and forum postings highlighting some of the ongoing confusion regarding different iodine sources and their abilities to provide sufficient levels of iodine for thyroid-blocking radioiodine.

This should help clear it up some more…

Potassium iodide (KI) is 76.5% iodine.

If the FDA recommended amount required for thyroid-blocking radiation protection is 130 milligrams of KI, then that translates into 99.45 milligrams of elemental iodine.

If you are looking at a product, like a kelp liquid for example, that says on the label…

“2 drops contain -kelp standardized with potassium iodide to contain 0.15 mg (150mcg) of pure organic iodine (150%RDA)”

Then, to attain 99.45 milligrams of iodine (same as what’s in one 130 mg tablet of KI) would require ingesting 663 double drops or X 2 = 1326 single drops.

A couple drops is just fine for dietary supplementation of required iodine, but woefully underpowered for saturating the thyroid for radioiodine radiation protection.

Q: Is the Government Ready with Emergency Stocks of Potassium Iodide (KI)?

A: No, but they clearly ought to be according to KI And Nuclear Accidents – AMERICAN THYROID ASSOCIATION:

“The American Thyroid Association through its Public Health Committee has strongly recommended the stockpiling of KI for prophylaxis in the event of a nuclear reactor accident. Unfortunately, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not accepted this recommendation.”

Even the latest (November, 2001) FDA document entitled Potassium Iodide as a Thyroid Blocking Agent in Radiation Emergencies states:

“As time is of the essence in optimal prophylaxis with KI, timely administration to the public is a critical consideration in planning the emergency response to a radiation accident and requires a ready supply of KI.” and “FDA also emphasizes that emergency response plans and any systems for ensuring availability of KI to the public should recognize the critical importance of KI administration in advance of exposure to radioiodine.”


Potassium Iodide – Precautions And Warnings

Potassium iodide Side Effects from Drugs.com

There are long lists of pretty severe reactions – includes Hyper and Hypo thyroidism in some people, and goiter.

EXCERPT from CDC page below –

“Adults: Adults older than 40 years should not take KI unless public health or emergency management officials say that contamination with a very large dose of radioactive iodine is expected. Adults older than 40 years have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer or thyroid injury after contamination with radioactive iodine. They also have a greater chance of having allergic reactions to KI.

“How often should I take KI?

“A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose at the levels recommended in this fact sheet is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid gland. In some cases, radioactive iodine might be in the environment for more than 24 hours. If that happens, local emergency management or public health officials may tell you to take one dose of KI every 24 hours for a few days. You should do this only on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor. Avoid repeat dosing with KI for pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborn infants. Those individuals may need to be evacuated until levels of radioactive iodine in the environment fall. ”

CDC Radiation Emergencies | Potassium Iodide (KI)

Potassium Iodide (KI)

What is Potassium Iodide (KI)?

Potassium iodide (also called KI) is a salt of stable (not radioactive) iodine. Stable iodine is an important chemical needed by the body to make thyroid hormones. Most of the stable iodine in our bodies comes from the food we eat. KI is stable iodine in a medicine form. This fact sheet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) gives you some basic information about KI. It explains what you should think about before you or a family member takes KI.

What does KI do?

Following a radiological or nuclear event, radioactive iodine may be released into the air and then be breathed into the lungs. Radioactive iodine may also contaminate the local food supply and get into the body through food or through drink. When radioactive materials get into the body through breathing, eating, or drinking, we say that “internal contamination” has occurred. In the case of internal contamination with radioactive iodine, the thyroid gland quickly absorbs this chemical. Radioactive iodine absorbed by the thyroid can then injure the gland. Because non-radioactive KI acts to block radioactive iodine from being taken into the thyroid gland, it can help protect this gland from injury.

What KI cannot do

Knowing what KI cannot do is also important. KI cannot prevent radioactive iodine from entering the body. KI can protect only the thyroid from radioactive iodine, not other parts of the body. KI cannot reverse the health effects caused by radioactive iodine once damage to the thyroid has occurred. KI cannotprotect the body from radioactive elements other than radioactive iodine-if radioactive iodine is not present, taking KI is not protective.

How does KI work?

The thyroid gland cannot tell the difference between stable and radioactive iodine and will absorb both. KI works by blocking radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid. When a person takes KI, the stable iodine in the medicine gets absorbed by the thyroid. Because KI contains so much stable iodine, the thyroid gland becomes “full” and cannot absorb any more iodine-either stable or radioactive-for the next 24 hours.

Iodized table salt also contains iodine; iodized table salt contains enough iodine to keep most people healthy under normal conditions. However, table salt does not contain enough iodine to block radioactive iodine from getting into your thyroid gland. You should not use table salt as a substitute for KI.

How well does KI work?

Knowing that KI may not give a person 100% protection against radioactive iodine is important. How well KI blocks radioactive iodine depends on how much time passes between contamination with radioactive iodine and the taking of KI (the sooner a person takes KI, the better),
how fast KI is absorbed into the blood, and the total amount of radioactive iodine to which a person is exposed.

Who should take KI?

The thyroid glands of a fetus and of an infant are most at risk of injury from radioactive iodine. Young children and people with low stores of iodine in their thyroid are also at risk of thyroid injury.

Infants (including breast-fed infants): Infants need to be given the recommended dosage of KI for babies (< #howmuchki>see How much KI should I take?). The amount of KI that gets into breast milk is not enough to protect breast-fed infants from exposure to radioactive iodine. The proper dose of KI given to a nursing infant will help protect it from radioactive iodine that it breathes in or drinks in breast milk.

Children: The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends that all children internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take KI, unless they have known allergies to iodine. Children from newborn to 18 years of age are the most sensitive to the potentially harmful effects of radioactive iodine.

Young Adults: The FDA recommends that young adults (between the ages of 18 and 40 years) internally contaminated with (or likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine take the recommended dose of KI. Young adults are less sensitive to the effects of radioactive iodine than are children.

Pregnant Women: Because all forms of iodine cross the placenta, pregnant women should take KI to protect the growing fetus. However, pregnant women should take only one dose of KI following internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine.

Breastfeeding Women: Women who are breastfeeding should take only one dose of KI if they have been internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine. Because radioactive iodine quickly gets into breast milk, CDC recommends that women internally contaminated with (or are likely to be internally contaminated with) radioactive iodine stop breastfeeding and feed their child baby formula or other food if it is available. If breast milk is the only food available for an infant, nursing should continue.

Adults: Adults older than 40 years should not take KI unless public health or emergency management officials say that contamination with a very large dose of radioactive iodine is expected. Adults older than 40 years have the lowest chance of developing thyroid cancer or thyroid injury after contamination with radioactive iodine. They also have a greater chance of having allergic reactions to KI.

When should I take KI?

After a radiologic or nuclear event, local public health or emergency management officials will tell the public if KI or other protective actions are needed. For example, public health officials may advise you to remain in your home, school, or place of work (this is known as “shelter-in-place”) or to evacuate. You may also be told not to eat some foods and not to drink some beverages until a safe supply can be brought in from outside the affected area. Following the instructions given to you by these authorities can lower the amount of radioactive iodine that enters your body and lower the risk of serious injury to your thyroid gland.

How much KI should I take?

The FDA has approved two different forms of KI-tablets and liquid-that people can take by mouth after a nuclear radiation emergency. Tablets come in two strengths, 130 milligram (mg) and 65 mg. The tablets are scored so they may be cut into smaller pieces for lower doses. Each milliliter (mL) of the oral liquid solution contains 65 mg of KI.
According to the FDA, the following doses are appropriate to take after internal contamination with (or likely internal contamination with) radioactive iodine:

Adults should take 130 mg (one 130 mg tablet OR two 65 mg tablets OR two mL of solution).
Women who are breastfeeding should take the adult dose of 130 mg.
Children between 3 and 18 years of age should take 65 mg (one 65 mg tablet OR 1 mL of solution). Children who are adult size (greater than or equal to 150 pounds) should take the full adult dose, regardless of their age.
Infants and children between 1 month and 3 years of age should take 32 mg ( of a 65 mg tablet OR mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing infants and children.
Newborns from birth to 1 month of age should be given 16 mg ( of a 65 mg tablet or mL of solution). This dose is for both nursing and non-nursing newborn infants.

How often should I take KI?

A single dose of KI protects the thyroid gland for 24 hours. A one-time dose at the levels recommended in this fact sheet is usually all that is needed to protect the thyroid gland. In some cases, radioactive iodine might be in the environment for more than 24 hours. If that happens, local emergency management or public health officials may tell you to take one dose of KI every 24 hours for a few days. You should do this only on the advice of emergency management officials, public health officials, or your doctor. Avoid repeat dosing with KI for pregnant and breastfeeding women and newborn infants. Those individuals may need to be evacuated until levels of radioactive iodine in the environment fall.

Taking a higher dose of KI, or taking KI more often than recommended, does not offer more protection and can cause severe illness or death.

Medical conditions that may make it harmful to take KI

Taking KI may be harmful for some people because of the high levels of iodine in this medicine. You should not take KI if you know you are allergic to iodine (If you are unsure about this, consult your doctor. A seafood or shellfish allergy does not necessarily mean that you are allergic to iodine.) or you have certain skin disorders (such as dermatitis herpetiformis or urticaria vasculitis).

People with thyroid disease (for example, multinodular goiter, Graves’ disease, or autoimmune thyroiditis) may be treated with KI. This should happen under careful supervision of a doctor, especially if dosing lasts for more than a few days.

In all cases, talk to your doctor if you are not sure whether to take KI.

What are the possible risks and side effects of KI?

When public health or emergency management officials tell the public to take KI following a radiologic or nuclear event, the benefits of taking this drug outweigh the risks. This is true for all age groups. Some general side effects caused by KI may include intestinal upset, allergic reactions (possibly severe), rashes, and inflammation of the salivary glands.

When taken as recommended, KI causes only rare adverse health effects that specifically involve the thyroid gland. In general, you are more likely to have an adverse health effect involving the thyroid gland if you

take a higher than recommended dose of KI,
take the drug for several days, or
have pre-existing thyroid disease.

Newborn infants (less than 1 month old) who receive more than one dose of KI are at particular risk for developing a condition known as hypothyroidism (thyroid hormone levels that are too low). If not treated, hypothyroidism can cause brain damage. Infants who receive KI should have their thyroid hormone levels checked and monitored by a doctor. Avoid repeat dosing of KI to newborns.

Where can I get KI?

KI is available without a prescription. You should talk to your pharmacist to get KI and for directions about how to take it correctly. Your pharmacist can sell you KI brands that have been approved by the FDA.

Other Sources of Information

The FDA recommendations on KI can be reviewed on the Internet at Frequently Asked Questions on Potassium Iodide (KI) .

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emergency Response Site is available at CDC Radiation Emergencies.