9:45 pm EST - Earlier today Japanese officials installed cables from a TEPCO power grid to the plant order to "inject water more efficiently into the facility's crippled reactors." Reuters reports that officials are hoping to "to fix the cable to two reactors on Friday and to two others by Sunday, but said work would stop in the morning to allow helicopters and fire trucks to resume pouring water on the Fukushima Daiichi plant."
9:00 - "I don't think we are going to pursue civil nuclear energy in the coming years," said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (via Reuters) Earlier in the week, Germany announced it was shutting down seven nuclear reactors while it "reconsiders" its nuclear strategy. Switzerland has suspended approval for three forthcoming plants.
8:13 - "The lack of disclosure of data at certain reactors has become a point of contention at Tepco's briefings with reporters," writes The Wall Street Journal in an overview of the criticism the Tokyo Electric Power Company has received since the crisis began. TEPCO "has acknowledged a history of concealing information about accidents and troubles at its nuclear-power plants," and has said about Fukushima that it "doesn't have specifics because it doesn't want its employees too close to reactor buildings."
7:38 - "Engineers got an emergency diesel generator for Unit 6 running that was supplying energy to Units 5 and 6 for use in cooling the spent-fuel pools, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said," reports CNN. A top aide to the International Atomic Energy Association director was cited as saying that reactor's 1,2,3 are "relatively stable," while 4, "remains a major safety concern."
5:22 - The Telegraph reports: "Obama may have some way to go before reassuring Americans concerned about radiation reaching their shores. The main US manufacturer of potassium iodide pills, which can protect against the effects of radiation, ran out of supplies within hours of the Japanese earthquake, according to the company's boss."
4:21 - The situation at Fukushima "hasn't got worse, which is positive," Graham Andrew of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said, reports Reuters. "The situation remains very serious but there has been no significant worsening since yesterday."
4:10 - Gregory Jaczko, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said today that it "will take some time, possibly weeks" to resolve the crisis. (via Bloomberg)
3:55 pm EST - Earlier today Nikkei reported that Japanese officials have installed cables to supply electricity in order to "inject water more efficiently into the facility's crippled reactors." Reuters gives an update that workers are still trying to connect these 1 km long cables, which possibly will be done "within hours."
3:43 - "Efforts to cool down one of the reactors at a quake-damaged Japanese nuclear power plant have been 'somewhat effective' since authorities turned helicopters, fire trucks and police water cannons on the facility, its owner said early Friday [Tokyo time]," reports CNN.
3:13 - "Please know that America will always stand by one of its greatest allies during this time of need. Because of the strength and wisdom of its people, we know that Japan will recover and indeed will emerge stronger than ever," wrote President Obama in a condolences book in the Japanese embassy in D.C.(via The Telegraph)
3:04 - This morning, there were concerns that low level radioactive particles (which were described as "nothing for people to worry about") were reportedly heading toward California. As of now, "no increased levels of radiation have been detected in Southern California since a nuclear power plant was damaged in Japan, the local air quality agency said Thursday," reports The Los Angeles Times.
2:45 - "[Fukushima] cannot be compared with Chernobyl. We had a totally different situation, a real fire. At Fukushima there is no fire, and nothing to burn, there is no graphite there. Only the spews of steam can take place there," said Russian nuclear expert Gennady Pshakin to Reuters.
2:28 - The Japanese government is now requiring "local governments to conduct tests for radioactivity levels in domestically produced foods" as a precaution, Kyodo News English reports. The move sparked a backlash: "The government is spurring crisis. The decision makes it look as if contaminated food is already on the market,'' said Tatsuya Kakita, the head of a research institute on consumer issues. (via New York Times Lede)
2:17 - The Pentagon is sending a nine member team "specializing in biological and nuclear hazards" to Japan as military advisors, Reuters reports.
1:56 - "Barack Obama believes Japan is fully aware of the severity of the nuclear crisis it is facing, White House spokesman Jay Carney said, according to Reuters." (via BBC)
1:43 - "Gregory Jaczko, the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, says there is little concern of harmful radiation levels in the United States as a result of Japan's damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant," reports CNN.
1:40 - "Two flights that originated in Tokyo and landed in Dallas and Chicago yesterday triggered radiation detectors when passengers passed through customs," the New York Post reports.
1:37 - Sens. Barbara Boxer and Tom Carper have requested the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to "review the capacity of the country's nuclear plants to withstand disasters," Reuters reports.
1:27 - "Four helicopters dropped water, only to have it scattered by strong breezes. Water cannons mounted on police trucks — equipment designed to disperse rioters — were deployed in an effort to spray water on the pools. It is unclear if they managed to achieve that," reports The New York Times.
12:57 - American and British search and rescue teams are set to withdraw from Japan tomorrow, via The Telegraph
12:36 - "President Barack Obama will make a statement about Japan later on Thursday, he told reporters at the White House," Reuters reports.
12:16 - "Japanese officials have installed cables to supply electricity from Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s (9506) power grid to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a step they hope will help inject water more efficiently into the facility's crippled reactors that are at the center of Japan's nuclear crisis," reports Nikkei. Yesterday, the AP reported that the new power line that could help "solve the crisis that has threatened a meltdown," was close to being finished.
12:00 pm EST - The spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Association has stated that the situation at the Fukushima plant is "very serious" but with "no significant worsening," reports BBC's Breaking News feed.
11:45 - "The Pentagon says it is offering voluntary evacuation flights to all U.S. military family members on Japan's main island of Honshu," reports CNN.
11:27 - Extra airlines have been recruited to meet demand for those passengers leaving Tokyo, Reuters reports.
11:20 - From BBC News' Chris Hogg: "The water company has said the [airborne "water bombing"] method proved quite effective on Thursday and is worth trying again."
11:16 - BBC News quotes a nuclear expert who believes too much emphasis is being put on Fukushima: "I think we're getting an accurate picture as far as the radiological alarm is concerned. What concerns me most is that we're actually focusing on the wrong disaster. The real disaster is the tsunami and the number of people who've lost their lives that way," said Professor Gerry Thomas, the director of the Chernobyl tissue bank from Imperial College London.
11:09 - Via The Guardian, footage of the Fukushima plant from a TEPCO helicopter:
11:00 - "Japan's science ministry says radiation levels of up to 0.17 millisieverts per hour have been detected about 30 kilometers northwest of the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Experts say exposure to those levels for 6 hours would result in absorption of the maximum level considered safe for 1 year," reports Japan's NHK English (via CNN).
10:30 - The efforts to "water bomb" the nuclear reactors from the air will continue, Reuters reports. The New York Times previously noted that the effectiveness of the method is "not immediately clear."
9:46 - Russia has offered assistance to Japan to help "put out fires" at the Fukushima plant, Reuters reports.
9:35 - "'In the midst of the tsunami alarm (last Friday), at 3am in the night when we couldn't even see where we going, we carried on working to restore the reactors from where we were, right by the sea, with the realisation that this could be certain death,' she said." Via CNN, Singapore's The Straits Times has translated a blog of a TEPCO nuclear plant worker who was evacuated from Fukushima on Monday.
9:20 - Kyodo News English has posted the updated status of each of the six reactors as of Thursday evening Tokyo time. According to Kyodo: reactor's 1 and 3 have been labeled with "partial melting of core feared."
9:00 - After temporarily ceasing, "efforts to cool the No. 3 reactor at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by dumping water from helicopters and spraying it from the ground will continue, the plant's owner said Thursday evening [Tokyo time]." (via CNN). On Thursday morning alone 30 tons of water have been dropped on the reactor by helicpoters, Reuters notes.
8:26 am EST - Reuters is reporting that a Swedish research director monitoring radiation has said that "concentrations of radioactive particles are heading eastwards from Japan's disaster-hit nuclear power plant and are expected to reach North America in days." The Swedish official, Lars-Erik De Geer noted, however, that "It is only a question of very, very low activities so it is nothing for people to worry about."
Original Post (8:18 AM EST)
Yesterday, as a small band of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) workers frantically tried to contain the radiation leakage at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, U.S and E.U. energy experts weighed in on the developing crisis and painted a much bleaker assessment of the situation than Japanese officials. "The site is effectively out of control," European Union's energy chief Günther Oettinger stated (via The Wall Street Journal). Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory commission, gave a similarly bleak congressional testimony, noting that the exposed fuel rods were "bleeding radiation into the atmosphere" and radiation levels were "extremely high."
This morning, the The New York Times is reporting differing assesments of the damage by the U.S. and Japanese officials. As of this post, Japanese military fire trucks and police are still attempting "desperate and unconventional methods" to try to cool the exposed fuel rods. Water cannons have been spraying cooling water on the rods, mulitiple military helicopters have made a successful water drop (an attempt earlier in the week was called off due to "excessive radiation levels"), and the amount of TEPCO workers braving the high levels of radiation has doubled from 50 to 100.
Yesterday, Japan's nuclear agency had to raise the maximum allowable radiation exposure for the remaining workers at the Fukushima plant to "250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts," saying that it was "unavoidable due to the circumstances," the AP reported. As of now, the Times and Reuters note, the impact of the water dropping tactics is "not immediately clear," because "Japan's nuclear agency said it could not confirm if water was covering the fuel rods." Today, the United States plans a reconnaissance mission by a surveillance drone airplane assess the crippled plant.
For those living in the surrounding area, Japanese officials have called for a 20 km evacuation zone around the plant, and insisted that those within 30 km stay indoors, The Washington Post reported. Yesterday, Reuters flash reported that the "U.S. recommends U.S. citizens who live within 80 km of Fukushima nuclear plant evacuate or take shelter indoors." Gregory Jaczko, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory commission, said yesterday that, "for a comparable situation in the United States we would recommend an evacuation for a much larger radius than is currently being provided in Japan." (via The Wall Street Journal)