Stories of Heros and Victims in the Wake of Japan's Tsunami

UPDATE: Japanese student in America who thought her family was dead sees them in a News video.

This little tyke (4 months old) was rescued three days later from the rubble after being swept from her parent’s arms.

The stories of the dedicated workers move me the most.  Here is a story about the voice of the disaster prevention center which shouts “run” and then is silenced. Here is a reminder of the 50 heroes that are struggling to keep the Nuclear plants in Japan from meltdown at the coast to their own health– maybe at the cost of their lives.

Man clinging to roof found at sea and many more stories.

Child is rescued by helicopter.

Elderly woman and others rescued over 90 hours after tsunami

Oregon woman rescued.

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31 comments

  • Kym, you’ve been up late and working hard providing information. Thank you. I hope everyone can be rescued. This is very frightening, one thing after another.

    Times-Standard’s Mighty Thadeus Greenson in his article, “State, Feds: No Current Nuclear Risk from Japan; California Hotline Set up to Field Questions” reported today:

    “As the risk of a nuclear meltdown increases in Japan, numerous media outlets reported that winds in the island nation are carrying any radioactive material being released east into the Pacific Ocean…there is no need for alarm, according to state and federal agencies. ”Given the thousands of miles between the two countries… the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity,” stated a release from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    …Robert Lima, owner of Lima’s Pharmacy, said a customer actually started screaming at one of his store’s pharmacists Saturday when it was discovered the tablets Lima’s had on its shelf were expired. ”We’ve got several calls,” Lima said Monday. “We are trying to get some more in.”

    …U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Mary Simms said in an e-mail to the Times-Standard that the agency has testing stations set up throughout the West Coast and throughout California that would pick up any radioactive particles in the air. There’s a station in Eureka, according to the EPA’s website.

    “…At this time, there is no indication that materials from the incidents in Japan have the potential to have any significant radiological effect on the U.S.,” the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) list states. …The California Department of Public Health has set up a hotline to field questions, which can be reached by calling:
    916-341-3947 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

  • Kym, you’ve been up late and working hard providing information. Thank you. I hope everyone can be rescued. This is very frightening, one thing after another.

    Times-Standard’s Mighty Thadeus Greenson in his article, “State, Feds: No Current Nuclear Risk from Japan; California Hotline Set up to Field Questions” reported today:

    “As the risk of a nuclear meltdown increases in Japan, numerous media outlets reported that winds in the island nation are carrying any radioactive material being released east into the Pacific Ocean…there is no need for alarm, according to state and federal agencies. ”Given the thousands of miles between the two countries… the U.S. West Coast are not expected to experience any harmful levels of radioactivity,” stated a release from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

    …Robert Lima, owner of Lima’s Pharmacy, said a customer actually started screaming at one of his store’s pharmacists Saturday when it was discovered the tablets Lima’s had on its shelf were expired. ”We’ve got several calls,” Lima said Monday. “We are trying to get some more in.”

    …U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman Mary Simms said in an e-mail to the Times-Standard that the agency has testing stations set up throughout the West Coast and throughout California that would pick up any radioactive particles in the air. There’s a station in Eureka, according to the EPA’s website.

    “…At this time, there is no indication that materials from the incidents in Japan have the potential to have any significant radiological effect on the U.S.,” the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) list states. …The California Department of Public Health has set up a hotline to field questions, which can be reached by calling:
    916-341-3947 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.”

  • We probably are not at risk, but some scientists, not affiliated with the government or nuclear industry seem to think with full meltdowns, that we could be vulnerable.

  • We probably are not at risk, but some scientists, not affiliated with the government or nuclear industry seem to think with full meltdowns, that we could be vulnerable.

  • I wish they could quantify our risk here in North America in terms of something that people could undertand, like Tanning Bed Hour Equivalents. I think that might calm people down a bit, because even in a worst-case scenario, we’re not likely to get much fallout over here. Even in the case of Chernobyl, which involved an explosion and massive fire and NO containment building, the actual radioactive fallout didn’t make it more than 1,000 miles, and the overwhelming amount of the fallout and health effects were much, much closer to the plant.

    I’m not saying there’s no risk, or that our exposure here will be zero (although that’s quitte possible) but even in the worst-case scenario our exposure will probably not be anywhere near enough to justify all the hysteria and the iodine-grabbing panic.

  • This update in from Reuters 1 hour ago.

    Fire Breaks Out at Japan Fukushima Daiichi No.4 Reactor Building:
    “(Reuters) – A fire has broken out at the building housing the No.4 reactor of Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the electric utility said on Wednesday. Efforts are under way to put out the fire, it said.”

    Previous reports:

    UPDATE 3-Japan Radiation Leaking “Directly” Into Air-IAEA:
    “VIENNA, March 15 (Reuters) – Japan has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog radioactivity was being released “directly” into the atmosphere from the site of an earthquake-stricken reactor and that it had put out a fire at a spent fuel storage pond there…”

    U.S. Energy Chief: Don’t Delay New Nuclear Plants:
    “(Reuters) – U.S. regulators should press ahead with approving construction licenses for new nuclear power plants despite Japan’s nuclear crisis, President Barack Obama’s top energy official Steven Chu said on Tuesday…”

    I’m saddened over these events happening in Japan. They’re facing great adversity and hardship. It’s going to be a long and sad week, month, year…

  • This update in from Reuters 1 hour ago.

    Fire Breaks Out at Japan Fukushima Daiichi No.4 Reactor Building:
    “(Reuters) – A fire has broken out at the building housing the No.4 reactor of Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the electric utility said on Wednesday. Efforts are under way to put out the fire, it said.”

    Previous reports:

    UPDATE 3-Japan Radiation Leaking “Directly” Into Air-IAEA:
    “VIENNA, March 15 (Reuters) – Japan has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog radioactivity was being released “directly” into the atmosphere from the site of an earthquake-stricken reactor and that it had put out a fire at a spent fuel storage pond there…”

    U.S. Energy Chief: Don’t Delay New Nuclear Plants:
    “(Reuters) – U.S. regulators should press ahead with approving construction licenses for new nuclear power plants despite Japan’s nuclear crisis, President Barack Obama’s top energy official Steven Chu said on Tuesday…”

    I’m saddened over these events happening in Japan. They’re facing great adversity and hardship. It’s going to be a long and sad week, month, year…

  • Between the environmental effects of uranium mining and refining, the high-level and low-level waste problems, the radiation releases during the inevitable accidents and “malfunctions” (inevitable given enough time and the presence of thousands of plants), and the possibility, which is always there (no matter how remote) of full-scale catastrophic meltdowns, I have a hard time listening to these industry shills who use the phrase, “safe, clean, emission-free” to describe nuclear power. It’s anything but.

    I do understand the appeal of it, though — the idea that we can somehow squeeze all that energy out of such a small amount of fuel, and the desire to continue to be able to generate electricity in a hugely centralized way, and continue our high-energy-consumption lifestyles, but without the carbon-spewing fossil-fuel plants.

    It’s the shiny-happy technofuture we’ve all been promised for so long now that many of us actually have come to believe that not only is it inevitable, but we are in fact entitled to it. Unfortunately, the Law of Physics and Mother Nature aren’t interested in our utopian techo-fantasies, mor in our sense of entitlement and/or inevitability, and these natural laws will continue to operate whether we are in denial about them or not, and notwithstanding any amount of Public Relations spin about how “safe, clean, and emission-free” splitting atoms is.

    The fact of the matter is that nuclear power is really neither a cost-effective nor a safe technology, and is only able to exist because of the massive subsidies and the way that the costs and risks are underestimated, externalized and unrecognized. Amazingly, even WITH all those subsidies, incentives, and indemnities, and even WITH the “expediting” of permits for new nukes, they’re still having a very hard time finding any companies who want to build new nukes in this country.

    Imagine if even just half the subsidies that go to the nuclear industry were redirected to the research and development of renewable energy sources, as well as tax incentives to help speed the adoption of things like solar power, wind power and energy conservation.

    But noooooo, we’ve just gotta keep throwing more money down a radioactive rathole…or at least so says Obama and the Republicans who are his allies on this issue.

  • Between the environmental effects of uranium mining and refining, the high-level and low-level waste problems, the radiation releases during the inevitable accidents and “malfunctions” (inevitable given enough time and the presence of thousands of plants), and the possibility, which is always there (no matter how remote) of full-scale catastrophic meltdowns, I have a hard time listening to these industry shills who use the phrase, “safe, clean, emission-free” to describe nuclear power. It’s anything but.

    I do understand the appeal of it, though — the idea that we can somehow squeeze all that energy out of such a small amount of fuel, and the desire to continue to be able to generate electricity in a hugely centralized way, and continue our high-energy-consumption lifestyles, but without the carbon-spewing fossil-fuel plants.

    It’s the shiny-happy technofuture we’ve all been promised for so long now that many of us actually have come to believe that not only is it inevitable, but we are in fact entitled to it. Unfortunately, the Law of Physics and Mother Nature aren’t interested in our utopian techo-fantasies, mor in our sense of entitlement and/or inevitability, and these natural laws will continue to operate whether we are in denial about them or not, and notwithstanding any amount of Public Relations spin about how “safe, clean, and emission-free” splitting atoms is.

    The fact of the matter is that nuclear power is really neither a cost-effective nor a safe technology, and is only able to exist because of the massive subsidies and the way that the costs and risks are underestimated, externalized and unrecognized. Amazingly, even WITH all those subsidies, incentives, and indemnities, and even WITH the “expediting” of permits for new nukes, they’re still having a very hard time finding any companies who want to build new nukes in this country.

    Imagine if even just half the subsidies that go to the nuclear industry were redirected to the research and development of renewable energy sources, as well as tax incentives to help speed the adoption of things like solar power, wind power and energy conservation.

    But noooooo, we’ve just gotta keep throwing more money down a radioactive rathole…or at least so says Obama and the Republicans who are his allies on this issue.

  • And now reactor #4’s spent fuel pool has caught fire again, spewing more radioactivity. Apparently there was an explosion there this morning, and then a fire with flames that were visible from quite a distance away.

    Officials are saying that the fire there apparently hadn’t been fully extinguished yesterday. But though that fire has still not been put out, they’re saying that the situation is “under control.” Which is a relative term, I suppose, because that’s probably not what most of us mean when we use the phrase “under control.”

    I have a proposal for a new slogan for the nuclear power industry:

    Nuclear Power: Hey, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

  • And now reactor #4’s spent fuel pool has caught fire again, spewing more radioactivity. Apparently there was an explosion there this morning, and then a fire with flames that were visible from quite a distance away.

    Officials are saying that the fire there apparently hadn’t been fully extinguished yesterday. But though that fire has still not been put out, they’re saying that the situation is “under control.” Which is a relative term, I suppose, because that’s probably not what most of us mean when we use the phrase “under control.”

    I have a proposal for a new slogan for the nuclear power industry:

    Nuclear Power: Hey, What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

  • From the Los Angeles Times “Fire Erupts Again at Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 4 Reactor; Nuclear Fuel Rods Damaged at Other Reactors” by Carol J.Williams:

    “Fire breaks out for the second time at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. Meanwhile, a report says about 70% of the nuclear fuel rods at the No. 1 reactor have been damaged, along with 33% of the rods at the No. 2 reactor.

    The ominous disclosure, after authorities insisted throughout the previous day that damage to the overheating reactors was negligible, compounded a sense of escalating hazards and fear…

    An estimated 70 percent of the nuclear fuel rods have been damaged at the troubled No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima (Daiichi) No. 1 nuclear power plant, and 33 percent at the No. 2 reactor,” Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday, quoting an unnamed official of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. that operates the stricken power complex…

    The reported partial meltdowns of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor cores were thought to be responsible for the plume of radiation that escaped Tuesday, sending background radiation levels soaring to degrees that authorities conceded were harmful to anyone with prolonged exposure.

    Radiation released from the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex Tuesday caused a 400-fold increase in background levels outside the stricken plant and about 10 times the normal level in Tokyo….

    …Those levels described by a top government official as hazardous to human health declined overnight… Radiation detected near the plant early Wednesday was insufficient to harm human health, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.”

  • From the Los Angeles Times “Fire Erupts Again at Fukushima Daiichi’s No. 4 Reactor; Nuclear Fuel Rods Damaged at Other Reactors” by Carol J.Williams:

    “Fire breaks out for the second time at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex. Meanwhile, a report says about 70% of the nuclear fuel rods at the No. 1 reactor have been damaged, along with 33% of the rods at the No. 2 reactor.

    The ominous disclosure, after authorities insisted throughout the previous day that damage to the overheating reactors was negligible, compounded a sense of escalating hazards and fear…

    An estimated 70 percent of the nuclear fuel rods have been damaged at the troubled No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima (Daiichi) No. 1 nuclear power plant, and 33 percent at the No. 2 reactor,” Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday, quoting an unnamed official of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. that operates the stricken power complex…

    The reported partial meltdowns of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactor cores were thought to be responsible for the plume of radiation that escaped Tuesday, sending background radiation levels soaring to degrees that authorities conceded were harmful to anyone with prolonged exposure.

    Radiation released from the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex Tuesday caused a 400-fold increase in background levels outside the stricken plant and about 10 times the normal level in Tokyo….

    …Those levels described by a top government official as hazardous to human health declined overnight… Radiation detected near the plant early Wednesday was insufficient to harm human health, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.”

  • From the BBC’s live blog:

    2359: Back to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant: the Kyodo news agency reports that engineers are spraying boric acid to prevent “recriticality” – presumably, the resumption of a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction – at reactor 4.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

  • From the BBC’s live blog:

    2359: Back to the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant: the Kyodo news agency reports that engineers are spraying boric acid to prevent “recriticality” – presumably, the resumption of a self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction – at reactor 4.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

  • From Al Jazeera:

    Japan’s nuclear safety committee say radiation levels of 400 millisieverts an hour had been recorded near Fukushima’s No.4 reactor earlier today.

    Exposure to over 100 millisieverts a year is a level which can lead to cancer, says to the World Nuclear Association.

    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/live/asia/japans-nuclear-emergency-live-blog

  • From Al Jazeera:

    Japan’s nuclear safety committee say radiation levels of 400 millisieverts an hour had been recorded near Fukushima’s No.4 reactor earlier today.

    Exposure to over 100 millisieverts a year is a level which can lead to cancer, says to the World Nuclear Association.

    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/live/asia/japans-nuclear-emergency-live-blog

  • More from the BBC live blog:

    0146 : Tepco says the reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been emitting white smoke for about 45 minutes, Kyodo News reports. The plant’s reactor 4 was the one where a fire broke out earlier this morning, Tepco said.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

  • More from the BBC live blog:

    0146 : Tepco says the reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been emitting white smoke for about 45 minutes, Kyodo News reports. The plant’s reactor 4 was the one where a fire broke out earlier this morning, Tepco said.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

  • And now numerous news sources saying that all workers have now been evacuated from the site due to rising radiation levels.

    It’s not clear if that’s a temporary pull out to deal with what is expected to be a short-term spike in radiation, or what.

    It was hard enough to imagine how just a few dozen workers were trying to keep a lid on all four malfunctioning reactor units, all at the same time. But it’s even harder to see how they’re going to be able to keep things “under control” (whatever that means at this point) without any staff on site to do anything.

    I’m not sure exactly what’s happening, but I think it’s fair to say that things are not going well at the moment.

  • And now numerous news sources saying that all workers have now been evacuated from the site due to rising radiation levels.

    It’s not clear if that’s a temporary pull out to deal with what is expected to be a short-term spike in radiation, or what.

    It was hard enough to imagine how just a few dozen workers were trying to keep a lid on all four malfunctioning reactor units, all at the same time. But it’s even harder to see how they’re going to be able to keep things “under control” (whatever that means at this point) without any staff on site to do anything.

    I’m not sure exactly what’s happening, but I think it’s fair to say that things are not going well at the moment.

  • The evacuation of the remaining workers was confirmed by a spokesman for the Japanese government:

    0320: Staff have now been evacuated from Fukushima because of a spike in radiation levels, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

    The situation is looking very grave indeed.

    • Thank you for keeping this up to date ( I had a rousing game of monopoly with my boys in order to recover my sense of joy in life!) Now I’m back and following your links and info.

  • The evacuation of the remaining workers was confirmed by a spokesman for the Japanese government:

    0320: Staff have now been evacuated from Fukushima because of a spike in radiation levels, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

    The situation is looking very grave indeed.

    • Thank you for keeping this up to date ( I had a rousing game of monopoly with my boys in order to recover my sense of joy in life!) Now I’m back and following your links and info.

  • I so appreciate having your blog to turn to Kym for all the updates and links that you great folks are sharing!

  • I so appreciate having your blog to turn to Kym for all the updates and links that you great folks are sharing!

  • Workers have returned to the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant after an evacuation order was lifted, Tokyo Electric Power Company said.

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/16/japan-quake-live-blog-death-toll-expected-to-rise-as-crews-reach-more-areas/?hpt=T1

    So there’s still a fighting chance to avert those worst-case scenarios, thanks to these heroic workers.

  • Workers have returned to the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant after an evacuation order was lifted, Tokyo Electric Power Company said.

    http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/03/16/japan-quake-live-blog-death-toll-expected-to-rise-as-crews-reach-more-areas/?hpt=T1

    So there’s still a fighting chance to avert those worst-case scenarios, thanks to these heroic workers.

  • I can’t imagine what they are thinking or feeling. If I spoke Japanese, I would be clamoring to get a publisher to let me write a book about them. Their story is like a blockbuster disaster movie.

  • I can’t imagine what they are thinking or feeling. If I spoke Japanese, I would be clamoring to get a publisher to let me write a book about them. Their story is like a blockbuster disaster movie.

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