WRAPUP 4-Fire Breaks out at Quake-crippled Japan Nuclear Reactor

Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 07:42 PM

o a lack of electricity after the quake, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, chief spokesman of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Since then the temperature had been rising and there was a possibility that it was boiling, he said.

It would take 7-10 days for the water to boil away, leaving the spent fuel rods exposed to the air, said Kazuya Aoki, a director for safety examination. As long as the spent fuel rods were covered with water there should be no leak of radioactive material from them, he said.

Officials were considering options including using helicopters to pour water into the reactor pool, though the openings created by the explosion were on the north and west sides of the reactor, making it difficult to access from above.


The full extent of the destruction from last Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that followed it was becoming clear as rescuers combed through the region north of Tokyo where officials say at least 10,000 people were killed.

Whole villages and towns have been wiped off the map by Friday's wall of water, triggering an international humanitarian effort of epic proportions. A 6.4-magnitude aftershock -- a significant earthquake in its own right on any other day -- shook buildings in Tokyo late on Tuesday but caused no damage.

About 850,000 households in the north were still without electricity in near-freezing weather, Tohuku Electric Power Co. said, and the government said at least 1.5 million households lack running water. Tens of thousands of people were missing.

Hiromichi Shirakawa, chief economist for Japan at Credit Suisse, said in a note to clients that the economic loss will likely be around 14-15 trillion yen ($171-183 billion) just to the region hit by the quake and tsunami.

The earthquake has forced many firms to suspend production and global companies -- from semiconductor makers to shipbuilders -- face disruptions to operations after the quake and tsunami destroyed vital infrastructure, damaged ports and knocked out factories.

"The earthquake could have great implications on the global economic front," said Andre Bakhos, director of market analytics at Lec Securities in New York. "If you shut down Japan, there could be a global recession." (Additional reporting by Nathan Layne, Linda sieg, Risa Maeda, and Leika Kihara in Tokyo, Chris Meyers and Kim Kyung-hoon in Sendai, Taiga Uranaka and Ki Joon Kwon in Fukushima, Noel Randewich in San Francisco, Tan Ee-lyn in Singapore and Miyoung Kim in Seoul; Writing by David Fox and Jason Szep; Editing by Andrew Marshall and Dean Yates)

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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