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Japan - March 15

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Official: Japan's Nuclear Situation Nearing Severity of Chernobyl

Alanne Orjoux, CNN
The explosion Tuesday at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has elevated the situation there to a "serious accident" on a level just below Chernobyl, a French nuclear official said, referring to an international scale that rates the severity of such incidents.

... "It's clear we are at Level 6, that's to say we're at a level in between what happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl," Andre-Claude Lacoste, president of France's nuclear safety authority, told reporters Tuesday.

Japanese nuclear authorities initially rated the incident at Level 4, according to Greg Webb of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Level 4 is characterized as a minor release of radioactive material that necessitates only measures to control food due to contamination. But in the latest information about the explosion, Japanese authorities did not give it a rating, Webb said, and the IAEA is not putting a number on it either.

Whatever the level, many experts warn that it's too early, and there's too little information, to determine what it means for the people who live in the region near the Daiichi plant.
(15 March 2011)



Nuclear industry in turmoil after Japan quake

Julie Gordon and Lynn Adler, Reuters
Investors hammered companies that build nuclear reactors and supply them with fuel on Monday as Japan struggled to avert a meltdown at a stricken reactor, on fear that the whole sector could be in for a downturn, in the short and medium term at least.

But analysts said the industry could recover from the stock market setback as negative perceptions fade, and the current price slump might be a buying opportunity.
(14 March 2011)



Disruptions of Power and Water Threaten Japan’s Economy

Peter Lohr, New York Times
As the humanitarian and nuclear crises in Japan escalated after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, the impact on the country’s economy appeared to be spreading as well.

While the nation’s industrial clusters in the south and west seemed to be spared the worst, the crisis at damaged nuclear plants north of Tokyo was threatening to cause an energy squeeze that could set back all sectors of Japan’s economy.

To help bring electricity back to the devastated areas, utilities across Japan are cutting back and sharing power, imposing rolling blackouts that will affect factories, stores and homes throughout the nation.
(13 March 2011)

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