I also heard on the radio this morning that the coast-line of BC up through Alaska and down towards California is supposed to be on the alert for tsunami as well ... I highlighted some of the key pieces of information that really caught my eye.CalgarySun said:TOKYO - Following are main developments in the earthquake measuring 8.9 that struck northeast Japan on Friday.
* Police say 200-300 bodies found in Sendai city, domestic news agency Jiji says.
* At least 59 people killed in the quake and ensuing tsunami, Japanese TV broadcaster NHK says.
* Residents within a 3 mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have been told to evacuate the area, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano tells reporters.
- A ship carrying 100 people was swept away by the tsunami, Kyodo news agency reports.
- A train is unaccounted for in one coastal area, Kyodo says.
- "The earthquake has caused major damage in broad areas in northern Japan," Prime Minister Naoto Kan tells reporters.
- Quake triggers tsunami up to 10 metres (30 feet), waves sweep across farmland, sweeping away homes, crops, vehicles, triggering fires. Tsunami of 7 metres later hits northern Japan.
- Strong aftershocks hit northern Japan.
- Tsunami warnings issued for the entire Pacific basin except the mainland United States and Canada.
- Countries covered by the warnings include Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.
* Alerts lifted for Australia, New Zealand and Guam.
- Taiwan has evacuated some residents from the east coast, but lifted the tsunami warning that had been in place.
* Indonesia has lifted its tsunami warning, its meteorological agency says.
- Hawaii orders evacuations of all coastal areas.
* California emergency agency spokesman says 'very possible' there could be tsunami evacuations.
- Ruling and opposition party chiefs agree the government needs to compile an extra budget after the quake.
- Power cut to four million homes in and around Tokyo. Several fires blaze in Tokyo.
- Many sections of Tohoku expressway serving northern Japan damaged. Major fire at Chiba refinery near Tokyo.
- Bullet trains to the north of the country stopped. The government was to dispatch 900 rescue workers to stricken regions.
- Tokyo's Narita international airport resumes some outbound flights after earlier closing, halting flights and evacuating passengers.
- Tokyo underground, suburban trains halted. Sendai airport in the north flooded.
- All Japanese ports closed and discharging operations halted, shippers report.
- Eight military planes scrambled to survey damage. Prime Minister Naoto Kan asks people to remain calm and orders the military to do their utmost to act. Cabinet to meet. The government says more tsunami possible.
- Tokyo Stock Exchange says it plans to open for trading as normal on Monday.
- Central bank vows to do utmost to ensure financial market stability.
- Television reports a major fire at Cosmo Oil Co's Chiba refinery east of Tokyo, and a fire was reported at JFE's steel plant, also in Chiba.
- Toyota says stopped output at parts factory and two assembly plants in the northeast.
- Mitsubishi Chemical says halts operations of two naphtha crackers at Kashima after a power outage.
- Electronics firm Sony closes six factories, Kyodo new agency reports.
- Asian shares fall after the quake hits while Nikkei still trading; European shares fall to their lowest in three months, with reinsurers Swiss Re , Munich Re and Hannover Re all down more than 4 percent.
It is awesome that something like a little earth-quake can wake up the Main-Stream-Media (MSM) to the real world, not just the Hollywood version where everything is going to be fine by a knight in shining armor! The story tells people to be prepared for 72hrs and how to do it. Now, if only everyone that reads the newspaper will actually take the recommendations seriously and will setup a BOB or GHB.CalgarySun said:As Japan fell victim to one of the largest earthquakes of the century, braving through both the ground bucking beneath it and a deadly wall of water rolling over it, Canadians started to wonder how prepared they'd be in the event of such an incident.
The Japanese treat emergency preparedness as a science. Within minutes of the quake, nuclear reactors were beginning to shut down, helicopters were in the air and rescue crews were beginning to track down the hardest hit.
Is Canada ready on that scale? To be honest, no.
According to a survey conducted by the Ontario Science Centre prior to its current Nature Unleashed: Inside Natural Disasters exhibit, up to 24% of Canadians believe that we'll be faced with that requirement within the next five years. But at the same time, up to 20% of us doubt we'll be able to last the official suggestion of 72 hours off the grid.
"This study shows us that Canadians have a gap in their knowledge about what to do if faced with a natural disaster," said Lesley Lewis, CEO of the Ontario Science Centre.
Amanda McCuaig is determined to change that, though. The Vancouver-based communications expert helped her workplace get on board with the Great B.C. Shakeout - a province-wide earthquake drill - back in January and is encouraging her friends to get emergency kits and plans ready.
"I frequently remind my friends and co-workers about this and send them links to earthquake preparedness tip webpages," she says. "I especially do this with friends who are new to town and don't know that we should be making a point of being prepared."
"I keep a first-aid kit and some food in the house at all times, and I keep my car full of gas. I still haven't got a grab-and-go bag packed or enough bottled fresh water to last 72 hours, though."
Seventy-two hours. That's how long the Government of Canada advises people to be ready to live entirely cut off from the outside world. Three days worth of food, protection, any prescription medications, gas stove, basic tools, emergency whistle and flashlight, batteries and water.
"By definition, emergencies happen when we don't expect them, and often when families are not together," the government says on its website at getprepared.gc.ca .
McCuaig is ready.
"If at work, I'd follow our emergency procedure," she says. "When I had a roommate, we had a central meeting place in case we were in different parts of town when it happened."
Not everyone is that prepared, though.
Ciara Kelly also lives in Vancouver but represents the far larger portion of people who are unprepared for a disaster like that which struck Japan last week.
"It, unfortunately, is not something I have fully thought about," she says. "I know that Vancouver is at a high risk of an earthquake within the coming years and it is definitely something I should be thinking about now before it is too late."
But last week spurred her to get organized.
"In light of the events in Japan and after having B.C. put on tsunami warning, it has definitely encouraged me to put this as a top priority in the coming weeks."
It's no James Franco flick, but surviving on your own for three days can be surprisingly difficult. The Government of Canada advises that everyone have enough food, water and necessary medications to keep themselves alive for three days until help can arrive.
What to put in your emergency kit:
- Water. Two litres per person per day as a minimum
- Food that won't spoil. Don't forget manual can-openers where necessary
- Flashlight and batteries. In a major disaster, the power grid won't be reliable
- First aid kit
- Prescription medication, baby formula, and any other necessary life items
- Spare keys to house and car
- Cash and contact information for emergency personnel and family or friends out of town
- Warm blankets, toiletries, water purifying tablets, basic tools (hammer, pocket knife, etc.), spare clothes
- Good sturdy shoes
- Portable fuel stove
Try to fit lots of this in a "grab-and-go" bag, a duffel or a backpack that you can pick up the moment an evacuation order is issued and walk out the door.
The nuclear threat
Finding information on the websites of government agencies about what to do during a nuclear emergency can be frustrating and slow, especially if the emergency is so widespread that the Internet is down.
Provincial agencies like Ontario Power Generation, though, advise everyone to have a wind-up or battery-powered radio in their emergency kits. Initial information about where to pick up potassium iodide pills (which help protect the body against radiation) and evacuation notices are then distributed by media alerts.
Emergency Management Ontario advises that in the event of a nuclear emergency, notices will be provided online, by radio and television. Some centres are also equipped to make automated phone calls.
The reports will tell everyone to either evacuate, take shelter where they are, take potassium iodide pills or report to a monitoring centre.
It was found during the Chernobyl-blast that radiation levels in normal foods / drinks that children enjoy (like milk) had upto 27 times the normal amounts of radiation. It has been said that the radiation has caused a higher rate of cancer in young children and there have been reports on brain-development issues / problems (like ADD, ADHD) that have been linked with radiation exposure in the womb.CalgarySun said:SINGAPORE - Radioactive materials spewed into the air by Japan's earthquake-crippled nuclear plant may contaminate food and water resources, with children and unborn babies most at risk of possibly developing cancer.
Experts said exposure to radioactive materials has the potential to cause various kinds of cancers and abnormalities to fetuses, with higher levels of radiation seen as more dangerous.
But they said they needed more accurate measurements for the level of radioactivity in Japan, and the region, to give a proper risk assessment.
"The explosions could expose the population to longer-term radiation, which can raise the risk of cancer. These are thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukaemia. Children and foetuses are especially vulnerable," said Lam Ching-wan, chemical pathologist at the University of Hong Kong.
"For some individuals even a small amount of radiation can raise the risk of cancer. The higher the radiation, the higher the risk of cancer," said Lam, who is also a member on the American Board of Toxicologists.
Radioactive material is carried by minute moisture droplets in the air. It can then be directly inhaled into the lungs, get washed down by rain into the sea and onto soil, and eventually contaminate crops, marine life and drinking water.
Cow's milk was also especially vulnerable, experts said, if cows graze on grass exposed to radiation.
Lee Tin-lap, toxicologist and associate professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong's School of Medical Sciences, said waters around Japan must be measured for radioactivity.
"No one is measuring the levels of radiation in the sea," Lee told Reuters.
"Steam that is released into the air will eventually get back into the water and sea life will be affected ... once there is rain, drinking water will also be contaminated."
Emily Chan, a frontline emergency relief expert and public health assistant professor at the Chinese University, said radiation exposure has also been linked to miscarriage and infertility to both men and women.
CHILDREN AT RISK
Radiation is dangerous because it can cause changes or mutations in DNA, which may then go on to cause cancer. While the human body can repair DNA changes or damage, a person is only safe if the repair process happens faster than the time it takes for the damaged or mutated DNA material to replicate.
Experts agree that growing children and foetuses are most at risk because their cells divide at a faster rate than adults.
They also consume more cow's milk than adults, putting them at further risk, said a Japanese scientist who treated victims of the atom bomb explosion in Hiroshima.
"Cows are like vacuum cleaners, picking up radioactive iodine that lands over a wide area of pasture, and then those particles very easily are concentrated and pass into the milk," said the expert, who declined to be identified.
"This was what happened in Chernobyl, and unfortunately, information about the risk had not been supplied to parents."
Asian countries like Thailand, South Korea and Singapore have begun checking Japanese food products for traces of radiation.
In Hong Kong, authorities began monitoring radiation levels from 10 air monitoring stations able to detect radioactive isotopes such as iodine 131 and caesium 137, characteristic of nuclear power station leaks.
Leung Wing-mo, assistant director of the Hong Kong Observatory, said the risk of radiation to Hong Kong was "very, very low""as wind and weather patterns would help disperse any radiation eastwards.
However, he warned that radiation could be concentrated in liquid or solid form, so people should avoid rain or snow in the affected areas if at all possible.
===============There are some fake maps out on the net... but this one is legit... it's from the Austrian (AT) government.
Shows a Cesium 137 plume riding the projected jet stream from 3/12 to 3/18 in a computer model...
I have asked some "official" people I know about US maps with Rad levels, but no one seems to know anything. (I was a FEMA trained radiological monitor for civil defense years ago.)
Tomorrow it will rain 1/4 inch up here in Maine, I'm collecting it in a clean 30" diameter wash tub and filtering it with a laboratory filter and will run 2 of my most sensitive Geiger counters over the filter. I'm curious if any fallout has come over here yet.
I doubt that there is any radioactive fallout yet, but I doubt my government's ability to mobilize in the direction of regional monitoring in time to do something.
How many people here with Geiger counters that can do the same thing? (CDV-700 or more sensitive) - I have a recently calibrated Ludlum "frisker" w/pancake probe.
1. Collect rain in a clean bucket or tub. If you have a rain gage, use it to see how much precipitation came down, or get the values from the local weather agency (airport, etc.)
2. Empty it in a graduated container to measure the volume, -make sure all sediment from bottom comes with it.
3. If you don't have a lab filter, take a coffee filter and pour the water through it instead.
4. Run the probe over the surface of the filter and note any increase in counts (clicks) and readings of the Geiger counter.
5. Report it here in this thread. Try to repeat this with every rainfall for the next month or so.
...lets hope and pray it doesn't get any worse.
FUKUSHIMA, Japan - Yoshiko Ota keeps her windows shut. She never hangs her laundry outdoors. Fearful of birth defects, she warns her daughters: Never have children.
This is life with radiation, nearly one year after a tsunami-hit nuclear power plant began spewing it into Ota's neighborhood, 40 miles (60 kilometers) away. She's so worried that she has broken out in hives.
"The government spokesman keeps saying there are no IMMEDIATE health effects," the 48-year-old nursery school worker says. "He's not talking about 10 years or 20 years later. He must think the people of Fukushima are fools.
"It's not really OK to live here," she says. "But we live here."
Ota takes metabolism-enhancing pills in hopes of flushing radiation out of her body. To limit her exposure, she goes out of her way to buy vegetables that are not grown locally. She spends 10,000 yen ($125) a month on bottled water to avoid the tap water. She even mail-ordered a special machine to dehusk her family's rice.
Not everyone resorts to such measures, but a sense of unease pervades the residents of Fukushima. Some have moved away. Everyone else knows they are living with an invisible enemy.
Radiation is still leaking from the now-closed Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, though at a slower pace than it did in the weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. It's not immediately fatal but could show up as cancer or other illnesses years later.
The uncertainty breeds fear. Some experts say the risks are quite low outside the 20-kilometer (12-mile) no-go zone, and people can take steps to protect themselves, such as limiting intake of locally grown food, not lingering in radiation "hot spots" such as around gutters and foliage, and periodically living outside the area. But risks are much higher for children, and no one can say for sure what level of exposure is safe.
What's clear is Fukushima will be a test case that the world is watching for long-term exposure to low-dose radiation.
More than 280,000 people live in Fukushima city alone, though some have left, and many more live in surrounding towns, including many of the 100,000 who have been evacuated from the no-go zone.
"People are scared to death," says Wolfgang Weiss, chairman of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, which is studying Fukushima. "They are thinking, 'Tell me. Is it good or bad?' We can't tell them. ... Life is risky."
It hasn't helped that the government has given only the most optimistic scenarios of the risks to avoid mass panic.
Public skepticism of government assurances grew when the man appointed as health adviser for Fukushima prefecture, Shunichi Yamashita, repeatedly said exposure to 100 millisieverts of radiation a year was safe.
Studies have found that cancer risks rise at an annual exposure of 100 millsieverts or above but aren't statistically detectable at lower levels. Below 100, experts can't say for sure whether it's safe, just that a link to cancer can't be proven.
In Fukushima and nearby areas, outside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone, the annual exposure is 20 millisieverts in some places and as high as 50 in others. Before the disaster, people in Japan were exposed to about 1 millisievert of natural background radiation a year; in the United States the average is about 3 millisieverts.
The controversy earned Yamashita a nickname: "Mr. 100 Millisieverts." Toshiso Kosako, a professor at the University of Tokyo's graduate school, stepped down as government adviser last year in a tearful protest of Yamashita's views.
Kouta Miyazaki is among those who have lost confidence in the government.
"Government officials should all come live in Fukushima for several years and bring their families. They're all staying in places where it's safe," Miyazaki says. "We're being told to get radiated and drop dead."
Miyazaki, 40, closed his online business selling Fukushima peaches; he doubts anyone would buy them now. He plans to move away with his 15-year-old son, although that would mean living separately for a while from his wife, who works as a counselor in Fukushima.
The nature of the threat has changed over time. Initially, it was exposure to the large releases of radiation from explosions at the plant. The risk from leaks remains but at a much reduced level.
These days, the main danger is less obvious but just as real: consuming contaminated food and water and ingesting radioactive particles. Radioactive material has accumulated in gutters where rainwater collects and shrubs with leaves that suck in radiation.
The risk is cumulative. The radioactivity in one's body builds up through various activities, including eating contaminated food every day or staying in a hot spot for an extended period.
Schools are restricting outdoor activities, and radiation meters dot the streets. Some people are using their own devices to measure radioactivity.
At area hospitals, thousands of people are on waiting lists to get their radiation levels measured with whole-body counters. One child at Minami Soma Hospital, southeast of Fukushima, was found with 2,653 becquerels of radioactive cesium.
It's a big number, but is it dangerous? Jacques Lochard, an International Commission on Radiological Protection official advising Fukushima prefecture, says the child's exposure could amount to as little as 0.3 millisieverts a year, or as much as 8 millisieverts, depending on how the child was exposed to the radiation.
All most residents know is that their bodies are contaminated. What the numbers mean is unanswered.
Kunihiko Takeda, a nuclear and ecology expert who has been more outspoken about the dangers than many others, says people become less afraid after he explains the risks.
"They are freed from the state of not knowing," says Takeda, who has a blog with instructions on how parents can protect their children from radiation. "They now know what to do and can make decisions on their own."
Lochard says he was sad to hear about a Fukushima woman whose children were too afraid to bring her grandchildren from Tokyo for visits. All the parents need to do, he said, is bring food from home and keep the children indoors.
Still, Lochard says, "There is no safe level. It is a small risk but not zero."
After the 1986 Chernobyl accident, more than 6,000 thyroid cancers clearly linked to radioactive iodine were found in children and adolescents. A study by Weiss' U.N. committee found exposure to iodine was lower in Fukushima than at Chernobyl. Still, parents are worried because the Chernobyl cancers didn't emerge until a couple of years later.
"Nobody can say this is over. I'd be the last to say that," Weiss says.
Mayor Shouji Nishida of Date, a city of 66,000 people in Fukushima prefecture, says his community is preparing for the future by relying less on the central government, and by adjusting expectations. He believes 5 millisieverts of radiation a year - five times the typical amount of background radiation in Japan - is a realistic goal.
"We are defining policies to live and coexist with radiation," he says.
MINAMI-SOMA, Japan-The doctors and nurses at Futaba Hospital pleaded for help as a radioactive plume wafted over their hospital. They had been ordered out but had no vehicles to evacuate the hundreds of patients in their care. After two days of waiting in the cold with no electricity, help finally came.
Nearly two dozen patients died in the chaotic, daylong odyssey that followed.
Japan's government says only one person, an overworked employee at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, died as a result of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. But one year later, details from a new report and interviews with local authorities show many more perished because of bad planning and miscommunication between government agencies.
In fact, if the calamities that unfolded on March 11, 2011, were to be repeated today, hundreds of thousands of lives would still be at risk, according to mayors, hospital administrators and disaster response officials interviewed by The Associated Press. They say little has been done to fix systemic planning shortfalls and communication problems between government agencies that compounded that day's horrors.
"We have set a terrible precedent for the rest of the nation and for any town in the world where nuclear plants are located," said Katsutaka Idokawa, the mayor of Futaba, one of two towns straddled by the devastated Fukushima facility. "I see this disaster as a meltdown of Japan itself."
Akinori Kahata, a nuclear disaster management official at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said the government was reviewing its contingency plans-extending the regulations to cover up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) from a nuclear plant-because of the problems with the Fukushima evacuation, particularly with hospitalized and handicapped people.
But officials in several towns around Japan where nuclear plants are located told the AP that they are not confident their emergency plans would work any better than Fukushima's. They say it could take months and require a complete re-examination of how to approach evacuations for significant improvements to be made.
The breakdown in Japan's crisis response was most striking in the evacuation of Fukushima's sick and elderly.
According to a 400-page report released last month by the Independent Fact-Finding Committee on the Fukushima Nuclear Accident-a panel of scholars, lawyers and industry experts-784 patients were evacuated from six Fukushima hospitals within the 12-mile (20-kilometer) no-go area. Of 435 at Futaba Hospital and a related senior care center, 21 died either in buses en route to evacuation centers, or in the centers themselves, before they could be admitted to another medical facility.
Jin Ishida's grandfather was one of them.
Ishida, who is in charge of crisis management in Okuma, which is adjacent to Futaba and also hosts part of the Fukushima nuclear plant, said the disaster overwhelmed local authorities.
"It was complete chaos," he said. "We were not prepared. We had no protection, no protective gear, no experts. Our communication lines were disrupted, our phone lines were clogged by a flood of incoming calls. We didn't have contingency plans for hospitals-even the firefighters didn't have a plan."
On March 12, Ishida scrambled to arrange for buses to evacuate patients from Futaba Hospital and its nursing care unit. He managed to get several and went outside the town hall to make sure they arrived. About 200 patients were moved. But as the situation deteriorated the next day, drivers and transportation company workers fled or refused to come to Okuma because of radiation fears.
The buses arrived on March 14. Ishida's 96-year-old grandfather was among the second batch of patients to leave. He did not survive the journey.
In Minami-Soma, a city farther away but partially in the no-go zone, 96 residents at a nursing home were evacuated in a similar manner on March 19 as they ran out of medicine and faced starvation, according to the home's director, Masahiro Sakashita. One of them also died on the bus, and two others fell seriously ill.
"We knew there would be risks, but we were left with no choice," Sakashita told the AP. "There is no doubt in my mind that if there had been better planning in advance by the city, this person would not have died. The same is true for the people who died while being evacuated from Futaba. Their deaths were a direct result of the nuclear accident."
He said that 26 of the residents from his facility had died by the end of the year, twice as many as most years.
The government does not dispute that the evacuations may have caused deaths, but has not included them in its official death tolls. Doing so would open the door for compensation claims, which the power company that runs the plant is "open to consider," according to company spokesman Osamu Yokokura. He could not confirm if any such claims have been made yet.
Officials in several Fukushima-area towns, including Minami-Soma, told the AP that they had no nuclear evacuation plans before the disaster, because Japanese regulations only require towns within 6 miles (10 kilometers) of a nuclear plant to make them. A 12-mile (20-kilometer) evacuation, involving nearly 80,000 people, was imposed on Fukushima.
Tokyo's failure to update local leaders and health officials on the situation at the plant further heightened their sense of isolation.
"The government repeatedly issued evacuation advisories and then changed them," said Dr. Akira Isaka, a surgeon who heads the Futaba District Medical Association. "Administrators had to find out through the media what was going on. This posed a huge problem for hospitals, which had to make plans on the spot and then completely change them as the zone widened."
Japan's government has acknowledged that coordination between national and local officials and plant operator TEPCO was severely flawed. It put the onus for establishing detailed evacuation, transportation and supply storage plans on local governments but also criticized Tokyo for not giving them the backup they need.
These measures "should not be left up to the local municipal governments, but need in addition to involve the active participation of the prefectural and national governments," its Cabinet-appointed committee concluded in an interim report issued in December.
But that would require fundamental changes that are not, as yet, being implemented.
Roughly one-quarter of the primary-response hospitals for nuclear emergencies in the 13 prefectures (states) in Japan that host commercial nuclear power plants are within 6 miles (10 kilometers) of a reactor. That rises to 41 percent within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius. Because hospitals outside the 6-mile (10-kilometer) range had not previously been considered to be in danger of an evacuation, few have even a rudimentary contingency plan.
Isaka, who now runs a clinic for evacuees living in temporary shelters, said every community near a nuclear plant should have at least one hospital built like a fallout shelter, with power generators and ample supplies, so that doctors can take care of the ill until it is safe to evacuate. He said he and other doctors have pushed for this for years, but to no avail.
"Right now, I don't think any community is safe," he said.
In the meantime, all but two of Japan's 54 reactors are offline. The last one could shut down by May, and with the public's trust of the nuclear industry shattered by the Fukushima disaster, the schedule for restarting them is unclear. Before the tsunami, Japan relied on nuclear power for one-third of its electricity.
Minoru Takahata, a disaster management official in Omaezaki City, home to the Hamaoka nuclear power plant south of Tokyo, said the government's handling of the Fukushima crisis was "obviously poor." Hospitals have been instructed to re-examine their evacuation plans, and he said that they are doing so without help from Tokyo.
"We now know that we cannot wait around until the (central) government does something for us," he said.
Japan is taking the leakage of radioactive water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant seriously, its watchdog said Wednesday, proposing raising the rating to describe it as a "serious incident" rather than "an anomaly."
The operator of the plant said about 300,000 liters, 80,000 gallons of contaminated water has leaked from one of hundreds of steel tanks around the wrecked Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co. hasn't figured out how or where the water leaked, but suspects it did so through a seam on the tank or a valve connected to a gutter around the tank.
The watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, proposed at a weekly meeting Wednesday to raise the rating of the leak to level 3 from an earlier level 1 on an International Nuclear and Radiological event scale of eight. The watchdog, however, plans to consult with the U.N. nuclear regulatory agency, over whether it is appropriate to use the INES evaluation scale on the badly wrecked Fukushima plant.
TEPCO said that because the tank is about 330 feet from the coastline, the leak does not pose an immediate threat to the sea. But Hideka Morimoto, a watchdog spokesman, said water could reach the sea via a drain gutter.
Four other tanks of the same design have had similar leaks since last year. The incidents have shaken confidence in the reliability of hundreds of tanks that are crucial for storing what has been a continuous flow of contaminated water.
"We are extremely concerned," Morimoto told reporters Wednesday. He urged TEPCO to quickly determine the cause of the leak and its possible effect on water management plans.
TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono said the leaked water seeped into the ground after largely escaping piles of sandbags added to a concrete barrier around the tank.
Workers were pumping out the puddle and the remaining water in the tank and will transfer it to other containers, in a desperate effort to prevent it from escaping into the sea ahead of heavy rain predicted later in the day around Fukushima. By Tuesday afternoon they had captured only about 4,000 liters, 1,000 gallons, Ono said.
The water's radiation level, measured about 2 feet above the puddle, was about 100 millisieverts per hour -- the maximum cumulative exposure allowed for plant workers over five years, Ono said.
The plant suffered multiple meltdowns following a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 -- a level 7 "major accident" on the INES rating and the worst since Chernobyl in 1986. Hundreds of tanks were built around the plant to store massive amounts of contaminated water coming from the three melted reactors, as well as underground water running into reactor and turbine basements.
However, contaminated water that TEPCO has been unable to contain continues to enter the Pacific Ocean at a rate of hundreds of tons per day. Much of that is ground water that has mixed with untreated radioactive water at the plant.
The water that leaked from the tank had been partially treated, with cesium and salt removed, before being stored.
Ono said the latest leak was by far the worst from a steel storage tank in terms of volume. The previous four cases involved leakages of only up to 2.5 gallons.
TEPCO says the tanks that have leaked use rubber seams that were intended to last about five years. Ono said TEPCO plans to build additional tanks with welded seams that are more watertight, but will still have to rely on ones with rubber seams.
About 350 of some 1,000 steel tanks built across the plant complex containing nearly 300 million liters, 80 million gallons of partially treated contaminated water are less-durable ones with rubber seams.
"We have no choice but keep building tanks, or there is no place to store the contaminated water," Ono said.
The massive amount of radioactive water is among the most pressing issues affecting the cleanup process, which is expected to take decades.
The contaminated water is recycled as reactor cooling water, but its volume grows by 400,000 liters, 105,000 gallons a day because of underground water inflow. TEPCO plans to secure storage facilities capable of holding 800 million liters, 200 million gallons more water by 2015.
To reduce leaks unrelated to the tanks, plant workers are using measures such as building chemical underground walls along the coastline, but they have made little improvement so far.
The public is growing frustrated with the company's failure to contain and clean up the mess.
"TEPCO's actions are reactive and slow," Kiyoshi Takasaka, a member of a committee of nuclear experts advising Fukushima prefecture, told the Japanese media. Other members of the committee complain that TEPCO hasn't got a convincing containment plan.
Minoru Takata, director of the Radiation Biology Center at Kyoto University, told The Wall Street Journal that the radioactive water doesn't pose an immediate health threat unless a person goes near the damaged reactors. But over the longer term, he's worried that the leakage could cause higher rates of cancer in Japan. Scientists in Japan and the United States says the leaks into the Pacific Ocean pose little threat to Americans.
Despite the ongoing problem and public anger, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe supports restarting nuclear plants idled following the Fukushima disaster. Abe, who has been a strong defender of Japan's nuclear program, has been trying to kick start Japan's stagnant economy and the nuclear plants are a key to reducing expensive energy imports.
If the government can solve the leakage problem at the crippled nuclear plant, it may give the politicians enough support to allow them to switch on the country's nuclear reactors again. But by taking over the problem at Fukushima it has now become his government's problem and its future could hang on whether the ice wall works.
The Japanese government recently allowed international media to travel inside the uninhabited zone around the plant, on the nation's northeastern coast. Villages appear frozen in time, deserted, with everything left as it was when residents were evacuated. The crippled nuclear plant, whose reactors have still not cooled, is situated on a hill overlooking what were once beautiful beaches now littered with vehicles and debris from the tsunami.
Former residents are allowed to visit sometimes their former homes, but can't stay long and face a vigorous radiation checking procedure every time they leave. The sea, was once famous across Japan for the fish it provided, is bereft of fishing boats.
Recent tests of water from wells in the area show that radioactivity is still hundreds of times above safe drinking levels.
Fox News' David Piper and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Japan's government may have underestimated by 20 percent the internal radiation doses Fukushima cleanup workers received after the plant's nuclear disaster, a panel of leading UN scientists says in its preliminary findings.
Three of the Fukushima plant's nuclear reactors were damaged by an earthquake-triggered tsunami on March 11, 2011, which led to a nuclear disaster with the plant accumulating radioactive water ever since.
The UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) raised doubts about the estimates of radioactive substances discharged at the plant provided by the Japanese authorities, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and other entities, Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun cited a preliminary report submitted to the UN General Assembly as saying.
The UN committee analyzed the data on radiation doses of 25,000 employees who worked at the plant no later than October 2012.
The committee established that the tests conducted on the workers had failed to account some types of radiation, the newspaper reported, citing a summary of its report. The procedures completely ignored incidences of Iodine-132 and Iodine-133, which have short half-lives of 2 hours and 20 hours, respectively.
Moreover, the workers were tested for thyroid gland doses from radioactive iodine only after a significant delay, the committee found.
If the UN scientists' estimates are correct, then more Fukushima employees would be eligible for free health checkups and treatment.
At present about 1,100 people subjected to radiation of 50 millisieverts or more in whole-body doses are entitled to free tests for cancer of the thyroid gland, lungs, stomach and colon, the Asahi Shimbun reports. About 2,000 people with whole-body doses below 50 millisieverts but thyroid gland doses of 100 millisieverts or over are entitled to be tested for thyroid gland cancer.
UNSCEAR has said that the soonest the report will be completed is by the end of the year.
The Japanese Health Ministry required TEPCO and 81 primary contractor companies to submit medical examination results for 20,000 Fukushima employees before December 2011; however it is still waiting for that data, the Asahi Shimbun reported.
The newspaper also reported that the UN experts cannot check all thyroid examination results, as the database is incomplete. An unnamed expert told the paper that radiation exposure in the Fukushima disaster came in large part from radioactive iodine, which tends to accumulate in the thyroid gland. Exposure to radiation is linked to greater rates of cancer and thyroid disorders.
Japan holds 1st nuclear plant drill since 2011 disaster
Over 3,000 residents of Kyushu Island took part Saturday in the first day of a two-day nuclear safety training exercise focused on the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima. In addition to local residents, officials from about 130 government institutions, including members of the prime minister's office and PM Shinzo Abe himself, participated in the first drill since the Fukushima crisis.
Residents living within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant took part in an evacuation drill for the first time.
The exercise began Saturday morning under the simulated conditions of an earthquake, with an intensity of upper 6 on the Japanese scale of 7, striking an area near the Sendai nuclear plant, causing one of the plant's reactors to shut down. On Saturday afternoon, the plant was simulated to have lost all electricity due to an aftershock.
Rescue teams worked on news video reporting on the earthquake to alert people about the accident and show optimal evacuation routes. The exercise was also attended by members of the Coast Guard, who had evacuated the residents of remote islands of the supposedly contaminated area.
Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan has shuttered all of its dozens of nuclear power plants. However the Japanese government is considering restarting some reactors in the event of their compliance with new safety standards developed after the March 2011 disaster. Four Japanese power companies have already applied for the restart of six reactors at 12 nuclear power plants.
However it is not known whether local authorities will agree to reopen the plants, because after the nuclear meltdown of Fukushima's reactors, public movements calling for a complete rejection of nuclear power have become more popular.
A preliminary decision on whether to reopen the nuclear plants is expected in early 2014.