APOCALYPSE NOW: Japanese Reactor Goes Chernobyl


NEW YORK TIMES: After an emergency cabinet meeting, the Japanese government told people living within about 20 miles of the Daiichi plant to stay indoors, keep their windows closed and stop using air conditioning. Mr. Kan, whose government was extraordinarily weak before the sequence of calamities struck the nation, told the Japanese people that “although this incident is of great concern, I ask you to react very calmly.” And in fact, there seemed to be little panic, but huge apprehension in a country where radioactivity brings up memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the haunting images of post-war Japan. The two critical questions over the next day or so are how much radioactive material is spewed into the atmosphere, and where the winds carry it. Readings reported on Tuesday showed a spike of radioactivity around the plant that made the leakage categorically worse than in had been, with levels measured at one point as high as 400 millisieverts an hour. Even 7 minutes of exposure at that level will reach the maximum annual dose that a worker at an American nuclear plant is allowed. And exposure for 75 minutes would likely lead to acute radiation sickness.MORE

RELATED: Tokyo residents had been told Tuesday that the danger posed by radiation leaking from the Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the Fukushima prefecture some 240 kilometres northeast of the city was minimal. But that didn’t stop many from fleeing the densely populated metropolis, and did little to calm the panic among those who chose to stay. Many stores have run out of radios, flashlights, candles, fuel cans, sleeping bags and other survival gear. Shops have also been cleared staple foods. “People are getting angry when they go to stores now and can’t see very basic things like bread or rice and that’s in Tokyo,” Johnson said, describing the panic buying he witnessed amongst people rushing to stock up on basic necessities. In addition to rolling power blackouts, train service has been disrupted and there are long lines of travellers at the country’s international airports. MORE

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