The Week: Most Recent Disasters:Disaster in Japan recent posts.en-usWed, 30 May 2012 07:00:00 -0400http://theweek.com Recent Disasters:Disaster in Japan from THE WEEKWed, 30 May 2012 07:00:00 -0400How Fukushima's radiation got into California's tuna<img src="" /></P><p>Last August, four months after engineers at Japan's tsunami-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power plant dumped radioactive contaminants into the ocean, U.S. scientists were stunned to find higher-than-normal measurements of radioactive cesium-134 and cesium-137 in bluefin tuna caught off the coast of Southern California. Now, the team of marine researchers has confirmed that the radiation in the California tuna is from Fukushima, some 6,000 miles across the vast Pacific. Here's what you need to know:</p><p><strong>What's the gist of the study?<br /></strong>Stanford marine ecologist Daniel Madigan tested 15 young bluefin caught...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 30 May 2012 07:00:00 -0400Japan's tsunami anniversary: A year in pictures<img src="" /></P><p>A year after Japan was rocked by an earthquake, a tsunami, and a nuclear crisis, the country is still grappling with the destruction and emotional trauma wrought on communities across its northeastern coast. Though Japan has made extraordinary rebuilding progress, it's struggling with "a heartbreaking grief," Eiko Yoshida, an official in Fukushima prefecture, tells <em>The New York Times</em>. Here, a look back at Japan's disaster and recovery:&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 12 Mar 2012 18:05:00 -0400Japan's 'massive' wave of tsunami debris<img src="" /></P><p>Japan has made great progress cleaning up after the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and deadly tsunami it endured seven months ago. But some of the aftershocks haven't yet been felt. Millions of tons of wreckage from the tsunami have been slowly drifting across the Pacific Ocean since the March disaster. Where is it headed, and when will it hit? What you need to know: <br /><br /><strong>How much debris are we talking about?</strong><br />Up to 20 million tons. A Russian ship spotted a field of detritus including TVs, fridges, lumber and a fishing boat emblazoned with the word "Fukushima" floating in the middle of the ocean in September...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 26 Oct 2011 13:56:00 -0400Fukushima's deadly new radiation leak: The worst yet<img src="" /></P><p>Workers at Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, severely damaged by March's earthquake and tsunami, are now reporting the most dangerous conditions ever recorded at the facility. Pockets of extremely high radiation were discovered near a ventilation chimney between two of the plant's nuclear reactors. Officials with the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) believe the culprit is debris left behind from emergency venting procedures that were followed after the March 11 disaster. Here's what you should know:</p><p><strong>How bad is the radiation?</strong> <br />Off the charts. It's reached a level of at least...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 03 Aug 2011 10:41:00 -0400Fukushima's 'nuclear gypsies'<img src="" /></P><p>For decades, Japan has relied on unskilled laborers from all over the country to build and repair its nuclear power plants. Now these "nuclear gypsies" are providing the muscle to clean up the site of the worst nuclear accident Japan has ever experienced &mdash; the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant caused by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March. Here, a brief guide to their plight: <br /><br /><strong>Who are these nuclear gypsies?</strong><br />They are construction workers, truck drivers, and unemployed men from across Japan. Some have been recruited from day-labor centers where jobless people gather hoping to find...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 14 Jul 2011 10:35:00 -0400Japan's earless rabbit: A radiation mutant?<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video: </strong>As Japanese officials consider evacuating more towns in the face of frightening levels of radiation from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a mutant rabbit has become an unlikely "poster child" for radiation exposure. A video taken in late May, reportedly shot just outside the Fukushima exclusion zone, captures a strangely earless rabbit (watch the video below) that is prompting panicky fears of radiation damage to human fetuses.</p><p><strong>The reaction:</strong> This creature "is almost certainly not... a genuine mutant bunny," says Natasha Lennard at <em>Salon</em>. Experts say it's unlikely the...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 09 Jun 2011 15:51:00 -0400Japan's 'sacrificial' elderly nuclear cleanup squad<img src="" /></P><p>The effort to clean up and shut down Japan's crippled, leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility will be long and dangerous. Just this week, two more workers in their 30s and 40s were reportedly exposed to potentially deadly amounts of radiation. That's nonsense, says a group of 250 over-60 retired engineers and other professionals with a strong sense of "sacrificial spirit." This selfless Skilled Veterans Corps &mdash; dubbed the "suicide corps" &mdash; is lobbying to take over the cleanup effort to spare Japan's younger workers. So far, Japan's government has declined the group's offer...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 03 Jun 2011 11:06:00 -0400Fukushima's nuclear disaster: Worse than Japan thought?<img src="" /></P><p>A new report from Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) paints a surprisingly dire picture of the damage at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Just how bad is the situation, and what is Japan going to do about it? Here, a brief guide:</p><p><strong>What does Tepco's report say?<br /></strong>It's now clear that three of the six reactors (not just one, as originally thought) experienced at least a partial meltdown &mdash;&nbsp;and odds seem high that, in each reactor, molten fuel rods breached the containment vessel, letting radiation leak into the environment.</p><p><strong>How much radiation has leaked out?<br /></strong>It's not clear...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffWed, 25 May 2011 10:54:00 -0400The 'mighty' robots of Fukushima<img src="" /></P><p>After several false starts, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) is starting to deploy a growing army of robotic helpers to restore sections of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility that are too radioactive for humans. Initially, Japan lacked qualified robots (revealing a sizable hole in its renowned robotics expertise), so the first mechanical workers were imported from the U.S. and Europe. But the latest, the "mighty Enryu," is all Japanese. Let's meet some of Japan's robot saviors:</p><p><strong>1. T-53 Enryu ("Rescue Dragon")<br /></strong>The original Enryu was created in 1995, as a search-and-rescue...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 25 Apr 2011 15:30:00 -0400Japan's 'ambitious' plan to end its nuclear crisis in nine months<img src="" /></P><p>The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has unveiled a plan to stabilize and shut down all six nuclear reactors at Japan's tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant &mdash; within nine months. The power company's chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, announced on Sunday that if everything goes according to schedule, radiation levels at the plant will be cut sharply by early 2012. Here, a brief guide to Tokyo Electric's "ambitious" timetable:<br /><br /><strong>What is the first step?</strong><br />Over the next three months, workers will focus on building new cooling systems to replace the ones destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffMon, 18 Apr 2011 11:39:00 -0400Phantom quakes and Japan's 'earthquake sickness'<img src="" /></P><p>The residents of northeastern Japan live with constant reminders of the powerful March earthquake that sent a deadly tsunami crashing into their shores. Aftershocks occur almost daily. And many survivors sometimes feel the ground shaking even when it is not. Doctors say the sensation is just one of the symptoms of the "earthquake sickness" that many survivors now have to contend with, on top of everything else. Here, a brief guide:<br /><br /><strong>What is "earthquake sickness"?</strong><br />The term refers to a collection of sensations earthquake survivors sometimes experience, even long after the ground stops trembling. The...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 15 Apr 2011 16:15:00 -0400'Terror and panic': The Japanese who outran a tsunami wave<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> Many of the vivid videos to emerge from Japan's catastrophic tsunami have captured the large-scale destruction of the disaster &mdash; entire towns swept up by relentless waves, recorded by an observer on higher ground. But new footage puts the disaster on a more human scale. (See video below.) The 57-second, queasily shot video captures a group of people running across a parking lot in Iwaki City, urged on frantically by people already perched on a tree-lined slope. A fearsome wave suddenly appears, and within seconds, the entire parking lot is deluged with water, as cars and buses...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 12 Apr 2011 12:46:00 -0400The geologist who predicted Japan's tsunami<img src="" /></P><p>Not everyone was surprised by the giant tsunami that slammed into northern Japan's coast last month. Masanobu Shishikura was expecting it. "It was the phenomenon just as I had envisioned it," says the 41-year-old geologist, as quoted by <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>. What did Shishikura's research tell him about the fate that was in store for northeastern Japan? Here, a brief guide:<br /><br /><strong>Was Shishikura certain the big one was coming?</strong><br />Yes, he just couldn't pinpoint precisely when it would arrive. Shishikura calculated that colliding tectonic plates under the Pacific Ocean off northeastern Japan triggered giant...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffTue, 12 Apr 2011 11:40:00 -0400Radioactive fuel rods: The silent threat<img src="" /></P><p><strong>What are fuel rods?</strong><br />They&rsquo;re the source of the fission reaction that makes nuclear plants work. Fuel rods are long metal tubes filled with uranium that&rsquo;s been formed into pellets. When these rods are placed inside the reactor, nuclear fission occurs, generating heat. That in turn boils water and creates steam, which powers turbines and produces electricity. When the uranium fuel is used up, usually after about 18 months, the spent rods are generally moved to deep pools of circulating water to cool down for about 10 years, though they remain dangerously radioactive for about 10,000 years...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 08 Apr 2011 11:45:00 -0400Robots vs. the Fukushima nuclear crisis<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video:</strong> After weeks of sending humans into the potentially deadly radiation at the leaky Fukushima nuclear plant, Japan is deploying a fleet of 23 newly designed robots to help. The Quince robots (see video below) are designed to withstand up to two sieverts of radiation &mdash; more than twice an instantly fatal dose for humans. They're waterproof enough to move through puddles, and can be remotely operated from more than a mile away. The compact, 60-pound bots will take video and measure radiation in areas humans can't safely access. Japan... robots... what took them so long?<br /><strong>The reaction:...</strong></p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffFri, 08 Apr 2011 10:04:00 -0400Japan's new earthquake: How serious is it?<img src="" /></P><p><strong>The video: </strong>On Thursday, a strong underground earthquake struck in the Pacific Ocean near the north central coast of Japan, 60 miles east of Sendai. At a magnitude of 7.1, the aftershock was the most severe since March 11, when a 9.0-magnitude quake devastated large swaths of the country. This latest earthquake violently shook buildings in Sendai and rattled skyscrapers as far away as Tokyo. (See a video from Sendai below.) Some injuries have been reported, but no deaths. Anticipating another lethal flood, the Japan Meteorological Agency quickly issued a tsunami warning, but later called it off...</p> <a href="">More</a>By The Week StaffThu, 07 Apr 2011 18:27:00 -0400