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Higher Radiation Levels Found at Japanese Reactor
Family members of the earthquake and tsunami victims at a mass funeral of their relatives on Saturday in Kesennuma, Japan.
By DAVID JOLLY and HIROKO TABUCHI
Published: March 27, 2011
TOKYO — Japanese officials continued to battle a spreading contamination problem at the Fukushima nuclear complex on Sunday, saying that water pooling inside one of its reactors and the seawater just outside the plant were showing sharply increased levels of radiation.
Status of the Nuclear Reactors
A daily tracker of the damage at the two imperiled nuclear plants.
Tsunami victims in Kesennuma, Japan, dug through debris. The United Nations nuclear chief said Saturday that the country was far from the end of the nuclear crisis.
The developments came after the world’s chief nuclear inspector said that Japan was “still far from the end of the accident” that struck the plant, which continues to spew radiation into the atmosphere and the sea. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, acknowledged that the authorities were still unsure about whether the reactor cores and spent fuel were covered with the water needed to cool them and end the crisis.
Mr. Amano, taking care to say that he was not criticizing Japan’s response under extraordinary circumstances, said, “More efforts should be done to put an end to the accident.”
More than two weeks after a devastating earthquake and tsunami, he cautioned that the nuclear emergency could still go on for weeks, if not months, given the enormous damage to the plant.
His concerns were underscored on Sunday when officials in Japan announced higher levels of radiation in pools of water at the facility’s stricken reactors.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that water seeping out of the crippled No. 2 reactor building into the adjacent turbine building contained levels of radioactive iodine 134 that were about 10 million times the level normally found in water used inside nuclear power plants.
The higher levels may suggest a leak from the reactor’s fuel rods — from either the suppression chamber under the rods or various piping — or even a breach in the pressure vessel that houses the rods, the Japanese nuclear regulator said.
Tetsuo Iguchi, a professor in the department of quantum engineering at Nagoya University, said that at that level of radiation, workers would be able to remain on site for only about 15 minutes before health considerations required them to leave, further complicating work.
“First, Tokyo Electric has to figure out where the leak is coming from,” he said, “then they’ve got to isolate the water somehow. It’s a difficult task.”
Tests also found increased levels of radioactive cesium, a substance with a longer half-life, the Japanese safety agency said.
“Because these substances originate from nuclear fission, there is a high possibility they originate from the reactor,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, the agency’s deputy director-general, at a news conference. He said that it was likely that radiation was leaking from the pipes or the suppression chamber, and not directly from the pressure vessel, because water levels and pressure in the vessel were relatively stable.
Mr. Nishiyama also said that radioactive iodine in seawater just outside the plant had risen to 1,850 times the usual level on Sunday, up from 1,250 on Saturday.
“Radiation levels are increasing and measures need to be taken,” he said, but added that he did not think there was need to worry about high levels of radiation immediately escaping the plant.
Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said he did not think the pressure vessel, which cases the fuel rods, was broken at the No. 2 reactor. He said pressure levels inside the reactor remained higher than atmospheric pressure, suggesting that there was no breach.
“I don’t think the container is breached, but there is a possibility the water is coming from somewhere inside the reactor,” he said. “We want to find out as quickly as possible where the highly radioactive water is leaking from, and take measures to deal with it,” Mr. Edano said on a live interview on the public broadcaster, NHK, early Sunday.
Naoto Sekimura, a professor of engineering at the University of Tokyo, told NHK on Sunday that information suggested that the No. 2 unit at Fukushima was leaking significantly more radiation that the No. 1 unit or the No. 3 unit.
“The No. 2 unit’s suppression pool, which connects to the containment building, is damaged, so its ability to contain radiation has been compromised,” Mr. Sekimura said. “They’ve got to find the source of the leak.”
Separately, the I.A.E.A., citing data from the Japanese authorities, reported that two of three workers who were exposed to radioactive water on Saturday suffered “significant skin contamination over their legs.”
“The Japanese authorities have stated that during medical examinations carried out at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the Chiba Prefecture, the level of local exposure to the workers’ legs was estimated to be between 2 and 6 sieverts,” the I.A.E.A. said on its Web site.
“While the patients did not require medical treatment, doctors decided to keep them in hospital and monitor their progress over coming days.”
The elevated levels of radiation at and around the Fukushima plant will require careful monitoring of seafood in Japan, said Kimberlee J. Kearfott, a professor of nuclear engineering and radiological sciences at the University of Michigan.
“It is extremely important that seafood be carefully monitored,” she said in an e-mail. “This is because many of the radionuclides are concentrated in the environment,” she added. “For example, iodines are concentrated in kelp (a Japanese food, seaweed) and shrimp.
“Iodines, cesium and strontium are concentrated in other types of seafood,” she continued. “Fish can act like tea or coffee presses. When you push down the plungers, the grounds all end up on one side. In this case, that is the fish.”
She said an example of this phenomenon occurred after the Chernobyl disaster, when specific radionuclides were concentrated far away in Norwegian lichens. Reindeer ate the lichens, concentrating it again, a danger to the native peoples whose diet includes a large amount of reindeer meat.
William J. Broad reported from New York, and David Jolly from Tokyo. Reporting was contributed by David E. Sanger from Palo Alto, Calif., Hiroko Tabuchi and Chika Ohshima from Tokyo, and Kevin Drew from Hong Kong.
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Now I'm not saying that Germany has a history of looking for easy answers to complex problems, but you'd think modern Germany, having come to terms with its, er, colourful history, would have learned that blaming the video-game Counterstrike for school shootings is obviously populist buck-passing - not the cause of the problem, which are no doubt a complex mesh of sociology, psychology and all that sort of thing.
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The game-play is everything. If it looks good and feels good on screen, you're on to a good thing. The best a writer can hope for is to provide an illusion of choice – the chimera of reaching an alternative scripted ending, but no one really cares just how linear a game is – take Half-Life – if you're having fun. Take it from me; if you're writing for computer games, you're writing in order not to be read."
Quin Parker counters, "Nobody's suggesting that people need degrees to write "thank you Mario, but our princess is in another castle". The truth is, games have become enormously complex compared to the days when all you did was jump on mushrooms, collect gold, and blow things up. Different demographics of people are playing computer games, and they don't just demand realistic graphics that push technological boundaries, they want whole worlds and coherent stories.
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Obvious warning. Spoilers ahead.
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