Illustration by PZS based on a graphic by Cary Bass
Here are the latest headlines from Japan’s nuclear disaster as of early Friday morning (Japan time), March 18.
The Japanese military made four water-dropping runs on the Fukushima Daiichi reactor containment buildings Thursday. Officials differed on the results, but the general view was that the water was too dispersed to have a significant effect. Helicopters were kept high above the rooftops and flew by quickly to avoid the intense local radiation. Efforts were halted after about 30 minutes. [MSNBC][USTREAM][NHK]
Japanese officials began using fire and police water trucks to spray the inside of the reactor containment buildings to suppress fire and refill water coolant pools. Reports indicated very limited success, with much of the water failing to reach the rooftop waste pools. One Tokyo Electric Power Co. official said that some new steam was visible, which he viewed as a positive sign at this point. [NHK][Businessweek]
Experts agreed that the more than 11,000 spent fuel rods at the facility remained the greatest danger, because they were not stored within hardened steel pressure vessels like the reactor cores. The head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday that he believed the Unit 4 spent fuel pools were fully exposed to the air and in danger of uncontrolled heating. [N.Y. Times]
Cooling systems remained heavily damaged at four of the site’s reactor buildings, but officials said that they hoped to restore off-site power and begin emergency repairs soon. [Bloomberg]
The U.S. government urged its citizens to stay at least 50 miles from the stricken plant, and offered assistance to citizens who wished to leave Japan. [Reuters]
A plume of radioactivity was expected to reach the U.S. West Coast by Friday, but officials said that the levels would not be dangerous. [Reuters] [N.Y. Times]
A number of passengers and airplanes from Japan brought detectable levels of radiation to U.S. airports, including O’Hare International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, but officials said no one was quarantined. [Fox Chicago]
*Compiled from various news services, including The Daily Herald, NHK TV News, AP, Reuters, CNN, Fox News Channel, CBS News, Bloomberg and The New York Times.