Here is a description of the scene around Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. It was reported by phone by Hitoshi Katanoda, a photographer on the scene, who minutes ago called Forbes contributor Yas Idei in Tokyo. Here is Idei’s description of the conversation:
“Hitoshi of Polaris who is near the plant just called me. It is a panic there. No way to escape as gas station are closed and rescuers are all gone.”
In another message, Idei says: The level of radiation is three times higher than normal in Tokyo.
Japan nuclear operator says does not know what caused explosion at Fukushima Daiichi plant reactor No. 4 as there was water in fuel pool.
At around 9:48 am JST, military helicopters began dropping water on top of the Fukushima nuclear power plant. They can carry up to 7.5 tons of seawater and are restricted to 40 minutes of flight in the area due to concerns about exposure to radioactivity.
The helicopters are Boeing CH-47 Chinooks. The pictures are a bit blurry because the national broadcast channel NHK is filming from a distance of 30km.
SDF gives up on dousing No.3 reactor
Japan’s Self-Defense Forces have postponed a mission to dump water by helicopter on the No.3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, because radiation above the facility has climbed too high for such work.
White plumes started rising from the reactor on Wednesday morning. Tokyo Electric Power Company says the vapor was steam caused by water evaporating from the reactor’s storage pool for spent fuel rods, which is heating up.
In an effort to avert the fuel rods’ exposure, a Self Defense Force CH47 helicopter took off from the Sendai base hauling a large container of water on Wednesday afternoon.
But the plan was aborted after radiation levels above the plant were found to have largely exceeded 50 millisieverts — the maximum permissible for SDF personnel on a mission.
The Self-Defense Forces say it is ready to recommence work when radiation levels and other conditions allow.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 19:06 +0900 (JST)