Japan raises severity level of crisis; efforts to cool damaged nuclear power plant continue
Friday, March 18, 2011
As the nuclear crisis in Japan's crippled appears to worsen, raised their assessment of its severity from to on the 7-level , the same rating given the 1979 crisis. Japan's Prime Minister, , said bluntly that the situation at the nuclear power plant was "very grave". Weather forecasts indicate changing winds may begin moving radiation closer to Tokyo by March 30.
Efforts thus far to coolin the reactors and the spent-fuel pools has produced little if any success, contends United States government officials.
Engineers are working frantically to connect electrical power to two reactors in the plant, as well as to restart the cooling systems and prevent overheating of. stated that it hopes to reconnect a power line needed to restart water pumps to the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors by Saturday morning. However, a official cautioned that if the water pumps were damaged by the tsunami, they could fail to restart.
The extent of the damage to the plant's reactors is still unclear. Japanese officials have concentrated on cooling spent fuel rods in Reactor No. 3's. On Friday, however, steam was seen rising from Reactor No. 2., where an explosion occurred on Tuesday. Additionally, engineers said on Thursday that the steel lining of the storage pool at Reactor No. 4 and its concrete base seemed damaged, as attempts to refill the pool with water became increasingly difficult.
In a briefing on Friday, Philippe Jamet, a commissioner at France's nuclear regulator, said, "We must avoid being overly optimistic. This will likely take human intervention like going into control rooms to reconnect valves."
- By Hiroko Tabuchi and Keith Bradsher. "Frantic Repairs Go On at Plant as Japan Raises Severity of Crisis" — , March 18, 2011
- Sachiko Sakamaki and Jonathan Tirone. "Japan Nuclear Crisis Remains ‘Very Grave’ as Forecasts Show Shifting Winds" — , March 18, 2011