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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.
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. NYT
Radiation Levels 300 Times Normal South Of Plant
FUKUSHIMA, Japan - The top nuclear official in the U.S. says there is no water left in a Japanese nuclear reactor to prevent it from having a total nuclear meltdown.
Gregory Jaczko, head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Congress on Wednesday afternoon that unit 4 at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan had no water left in its containment pool, based on information obtained by the U.S.
"There is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures," Jaczko said.
Jaczko was asked a second time to repeat this comments, and he said: "We believe at this point that unit four may have lost a significant inventory, if not lost all, of its water."
Jaczko also said American sources believed unit 3 at the Fukushima plant had a cracked suppression pool and could suffer the same fate as unit 4.
The AP said Japan's nuclear safety agency and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the complex, denied that water is gone from the pool. Utility spokesman Hajime Motojuku said the "condition is stable"
Earlier on Wednesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed three reactor buildings at Japan's Fukushima's nuclear power plant are in a meltdown state.
The IAEA also labeled Japan's nuclear crisis as "very serious" Wednesday as Tokyo Electric and government officials tried desperate measures to cool reactors and fuel pools.
Tokyo Electric officials said generator parts were arriving on Wednesday and they would try to install generators starting on Thursday to get power back online at the plant.
They called the feasibility "quite high" of restoring power to the plant, but didn't give a timeline for when that would happen.
IAEA head Yukiya Amano said reactors No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3. were partially melted down. He said there were concerns about the spent nuclear fuel pools of reactors No. 3 and No. 4.
The US military also increased its own operational exclusion zone around the Fukushima plant to 50 miles. The Pentagon also confirmed some flight crews were issued with potassium iodide tablets to combat the possible effects of radiation.
It was unclear what happened in the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's overheating reactors after late morning, when the workers stopped pumping in seawater trying to cool their fuel rods. Officials gave only sparse information about the reactors.
But conditions at the plant appeared to be worsening. White steam-like clouds drifted up from one reactor which, the government said, likely emitted the burst of radiation that led to the workers' withdrawal. The plant's operator reported a fire at another reactor for the second time in two days.At one point, national broadcaster NHK showed military helicopters lifting off to survey radiation levels above the complex, preparing to dump water onto the most troubled reactors in a desperate effort to cool them down. The defense ministry said those flights were a drill. Later, it said it had decided against making an airborne drop because of the high radiation levels.
In the city of Fukushima, about 40 miles (60 kilometers) inland from the nuclear complex, hundreds of harried government workers, police officers and others struggled to stay on top of the situation in a makeshift command center.
An entire floor of one of the prefecture's office buildings had been taken over by people tracking evacuations, power needs, death tolls and food supplies.
President Obama: Reverse your support of risky nuclear power. First came the earthquake. Then the tsunami. Then multiple explosions at nuclear reactors. Several Japanese nuclear reactors are at risk of melting down with unthinkable release of radiation.
The crisis in Japan is heartwrenching. The latest reports suggest at least 10,000 dead from one of the most powerful earthquakes in recorded history followed by a devastating tsunami. And that number is likely to rise.
But perhaps the worst is yet to come as multiple nuclear reactors in Japan are redlining and officials frantically release radioactive steam into the atmosphere in hopes of averting a total nuclear meltdown.
Tell President Obama: No more nukes. Not now.
Seven nuclear reactors in Germany built before 1980 will be shut during a three-month review of nuclear-plant safety and the country's broader energy strategy, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday.
Mrs. Merkel also said she wanted the Group of 20 leading and emerging nations in France to discuss international nuclear-energy standards at a summit in November, and had asked French President Nicolas Sarkozy to add the discussion to the summit's agenda. WSJ