The situation in Japan seems to have just got considerably worse. From the BBC live feed.
0325:More on that news conference by Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano. He said: “At around 0830 today, at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, white smoke has been seen coming out of reactor three. And regarding this, currently we are looking for the cause.
0320:Staff have now been evacuated from Fukushima because of a spike in radiation levels, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.
0221:Japanese Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says the authorities are still looking for the cause of white smoke billowing from reactor 3 at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. He says the radiation reading at the plant is fluctuating by the hour.
Assuming that is ALL the staff (at 0320) you have to wonder how any further emergency work is going to continue at the plant. It has already been reported that reactor 4 has become too hot to get near, and there have been 2 fires at that reactor. Without staff there to continue emergency work there is a big concern that a fire at the pool could lead to another explosion that could destroy the building that houses the reactor and release a large amount of highly radioactive materials into the atmosphere.
Japan says it is ready to ask the US military for help in battling the crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant. One wonders what that means.
Kyodo news reports:
The container of the No.3 reactor of the quake-hit Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant is feared to have been damaged and may have leaked radioactive steam Wednesday, emitting high-level radiation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said.
The radiation level briefly topped 6 milisievert per hour at the plant, the government’s nucler safety agency said.
The explanations were given after smoke was seen rising from the No.3 reactor since around 8:30 a.m., according to Edano.
Earlier in the day, a fire broke out again at the plant’s No.4 reactor, where there was already a risk of leaks of high-level radioactive materials, but flames were no longer visible about 30 minutes later.
Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, said it considered spraying boric acid by helicopter to prevent the No.4 reactor’s spent nuclear fuel rods from reaching criticality again, restarting a chain reaction.
On Tuesday, the utility said water in a pool storing the spent fuel rods may be boiling and that its level may have dropped, exposing the rods. The government ordered the firm to inject water into the pool ”as soon as possible to avert a major nuclear disaster.”
Due to high radiation levels at the reactor, workers have been unable to pour water into the troubled pool. Difficult conditions have led the utility to evacuate around 730 of the 800 workers from the site, according to TEPCO.
”The possibility of recriticality is not zero,” TEPCO said Wednesday as it announced the envisaged step to control the situation.
Unless the spent fuel rods are cooled down, they could suffer damage and emit radioactive substances.
It seems however at this time the financial markets aren’t that concerned. or haven’t noticed yet. Time will tell.
The Nikkei rebounded sharply in afternoon trade finishing up 5.68% for the day, although shares in Fukushima’s operator TEPCO plunge 24%. The 5 day chart shows the Nikkei’s ride so far.