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Thursday, March 31, 2011

G20 nuclear safety rules on the way

Proposed by Chair of G20 in a visit to Japan. France leads the way in putting forward new international standards.

Amplify’d from www.bbc.co.uk

Japan nuclear crisis: Sarkozy calls for global rules

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for clear international standards on nuclear safety in light of the ongoing crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Speaking in Japan, he proposed that nuclear safety authorities from the G20 countries discuss the issue in May.

Radiation detected in the sea near the stricken plant has again risen steeply.

Meanwhile, the UN has advised Japan to consider expanding the evacuation zone around the reactors.

Mr Sarkozy is the first foreign leader to visit Japan following the earthquake and tsunami that hit the country on 11 March.

The French president said he wanted to see international standards on nuclear energy established by the end of the year, and that France would ask G20 nuclear delegates to lay the groundwork for a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in June.

"The problem is more about establishing safety norms than it is about the choice of nuclear energy, for this there is no alternative right now," Mr Sarkozy was quoted as saying by Reuters.

"We must address this anomaly that there are no international safety norms for nuclear matters. We want international standards because the world is a village and what happens in Japan can have consequences elsewhere."

Read more at www.bbc.co.uk
 

Social media in emergencies: a new look

Japan showed what works and what doesn't ...

Amplify’d from www.nola.com

Japan disaster sparks social media innovation

As Japan grapples with an unprecedented triple disaster -- earthquake, tsunami, nuclear crisis -- the Web has spawned creativity and innovation online amid a collective desire to ease suffering.

Once the magnitude of the March 11 disaster became clear, the online world began asking, "How can we help?"

And for that, social media offered the ideal platform for good ideas to spread quickly, supplementing efforts launched by giants like Google and Facebook.

A British teacher living in Abiko city, just east of Tokyo, is leading a volunteer team of bloggers, writers and editors producing "Quakebook," a collection of reflections, essays and images of the earthquake that will be sold in the coming days as a digital publication. Proceeds from the project will go to the Japanese Red Cross, said the 40-year-old, who goes by the pseudonym "Our Man in Abiko."

The entirely Twitter-sourced project started with a single tweet exactly a week after the earthquake. Within an hour, he had received two submissions, which soon grew to the 87 that now comprise the book.

Read more at www.nola.com
 

One more reason why plans need revisions

Communicating by fax in 2011? Any emergency management program or BCP needs a solid crisis communications plan that includes social media. An absolute requirement for the "social convergence age".

Amplify’d from www.wallstreetjournal.com

Japanese Plant Had Barebones Risk Plan

TOKYO—Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s disaster plans greatly underestimated the scope of a potential accident at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, calling for only one stretcher, one satellite phone and 50 protective suits in case of emergencies.

Disaster-response documents for Fukushima Daiichi, examined by The Wall Street Journal, also contain few guidelines for obtaining outside help, providing insight into why Japan struggled to cope with a nuclear crisis after an earthquake and tsunami devastated the facility.

The disaster plans, approved by Japanese regulators, offer guidelines for responding to smaller emergencies and outline in detail how to back up key systems in case of failure. Yet the plans fail to envision the kind of worst-case scenario that befell Japan: damage so extensive that the plant couldn't respond on its own or call for help from nearby plants. There are no references to Tokyo firefighters, Japanese military forces or U.S. equipment, all of which the plant operators eventually relied upon to battle their overheating reactors.

On Wednesday, the president of plant operator Tepco was hospitalized for dizziness, offering the latest sign of leadership trouble. Earlier in the disaster, Tepco was faulted for a sluggish initial response; now it appears that its written emergency plans were themselves inadequate.

"The disaster plan didn't function," said a former Tepco executive. "It didn't envision something this big."

The two main documents examined by the Journal are Fukushima Daiichi's disaster-readiness plan, which discusses general preparations and communications, and its accident-management protocol, which focuses on technical operation of plant equipment in an accident.

The main disaster-readiness manual, updated annually, envisions the fax machine as a principal means of communication with the outside world and includes detailed forms for Tepco managers when faxing government officials. One form offers a multiple-choice list of disasters, including "loss of AC power," "inability to use the control room" and "probable nuclear chain reaction outside the reactor."

Tepco spokesman Hiro Hasegawa said the plans followed and sometimes exceeded legal requirements, and proved useful in the crisis. For example, he said the emergency injection of water to cool the reactors followed the accident-management protocol.

Nuclear-power experts say few operators anywhere are likely prepared for the kind of disaster that struck Fukushima Daiichi. On March 11, the plant was hit with a magnitude 9.0 quake, followed by a tsunami estimated at 45 feet. The twin catastrophes wiped out the normal power and backup generators of nearly all the plant's six reactors and also damaged roads and communication lines through which the plant could seek help.

Read more at www.wallstreetjournal.com
 

Radicalization in Canada: not new

There have been stories about young men from the Somali community leaving Canada and the US to train with Al Shabab for a couple of years now. Where are they now?

Amplify’d from www.torontosun.com

Young Canadians going to Somalia

Police say dozens of young Toronto men are travelling to Somalia for indoctrination into the al-Shabaab terror group only to return home to radicalize others or carry out tasks called for by cell leaders.

The RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have since 2009 been tracking young men of Somali descent who left Canada to receive months of training at camps in their homeland.

Some are killed abroad while missing persons reports are filed in Canada, police said.

“By the time we find out, they have already left or are missing,” said RCMP Sgt.

Marc LaPorte. “I think this is the first time we have intercepted someone before they left.”

Read more at www.torontosun.com
 

Pressure is mounting outside the reactor

Will evacuation zone in Japan's Fukushima area be extended as external pressure mounts from the international community?

Amplify’d from www.huffingtonpost.com

TOKYO, March 31 (Reuters) - Pressure mounted on Japan on Thursday to expand the evacuation zone around its stricken nuclear power plant while officials said radiation may be flowing continuously into the nearby sea, where contamination was now 4,000 times the legal limit.

In the first data on the impact of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis, Japanese manufacturing slumped the most on record in March as factories shut down and global supply chains were broken.

The damage to the world's third-biggest economy from the quake and tsunami alone could cost more than $300 billion, making it the world's costliest natural disaster, and a report from a Wall Street investment bank said nuclear-related compensation claims could reach more than $130 billion.

Both the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Japan's nuclear safety agency said the government should consider widening the 20-km (12-mile) zone after high radiation was detected at twice that distance from the facility.

Read more at www.huffingtonpost.com
 

Bad emergency info = fears and rumours

How worse can it get when bad emergency information practices lead people to suffer more?

Amplify’d from www.telegraph.co.uk

Japan nuclear crisis: evacuees turned away from shelters


Hundreds of people evacuated from towns and villages close to the stricken
Fukushima nuclear plant are being turned away by medical institutions and
emergency shelters as fears of radioactive contagion catch on.


Hospitals and temporary refuges are demanding that evacuees provide them with
certificates confirming that they have not been exposed to radiation before
they are admitted.



The situation at the plant remains critical, with the Nuclear and Industrial
Safety Agency yesterday that radioactive iodine-131 at more than 3,350 times
permitted levels has been found in a sample of seawater taken from near the
facility.



The water is the most highly contaminated sample taken from the sea and
indicates that radiation from the core of one or more of the reactors, where
fuel rods have partly melted, is leaking into the Pacific Ocean.



A spokesman for the agency said the radioactivity poses no immediate threat to
human health because fishing has been banned close to the plant and iodine
will have been "significantly diluted" before it comes into
contact with marine species and then enters the food chain for humans.



The eight-year-old daughter of Takayuki Okamura was refused treatment for a
skin rash by a clinic in Fukushima City, where the family is living in a
shelter after abandoning their home in Minamisoma, 18 miles from the
crippled nuclear plant.

Read more at www.telegraph.co.uk
 

Radioactive contamination spreads

One new problem after another in Fukushima.

Amplify’d from english.kyodonews.jp

Radioactive water removal hits snag, high iodine detected in sea

Efforts to remove radiation-contaminated water filling up at a troubled reactor building and an underground trench connected to it at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have hit a snag, casting a shadow on restoration of the vital cooling functions at the site, the government's nuclear safety agency said Wednesday.

The evolving nuclear crisis also showed no signs of abating, as the agency said the same day the highest concentration of radioactive iodine-131 was detected Tuesday in a seawater sample taken near the plant's drainage outlets in the Pacific Ocean. The density was 3,355 times the maximum level permitted under law.

Workers rushed to pump out radiation-polluted water that has been filling up the basement of the No. 1 reactor's turbine building and the tunnel-like trench connected to it, but they found out Tuesday a tank accommodating the water from the building had become full, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.

The engineers also newly spotted water polluted with low-level radiation at a building designed for radioactive waste disposal at the plant, where the trench water is meant to be transferred. They nonetheless finished laying hoses to discharge the trench water, according to the agency.

Read more at english.kyodonews.jp
 

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The world is a small place

Radiation from Japan showing up in milk in North America.

Amplify’d from www.npr.org

Low Levels Of Radiation Found In U.S. Milk

Very low levels of radiation turned up in a sample of milk from Washington state, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday, but federal officials assured consumers not to worry.

The FDA said such findings were to be expected in the coming days because of the nuclear crisis in Japan, and that the levels were expected to drop relatively quickly.

Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex began leaking radiation after it was damaged by a devastating earthquake and tsunami earlier this month.

Results from a March 25 milk sample taken from Spokane, Wash., showed levels of radioactive Iodine-131 that were still 5,000 times below levels of concern set by the FDA, including levels set for infants and children.

Read more at www.npr.org
 

Digital volunteers making a difference

Across the world in humanitarian crises caused by war or disasters.

Amplify’d from www.undispatch.com

Disaster Relief 2.0: What the UN could not have done without the Volunteer Technical Community

The office that I work for – UN OCHA – recently took a big leap forward by engaging the VTCs for responding to the Libyan and Japan crises. We dove into a collaboration with the VTCs in a first effort to try to make the responses better. However, the most common questions I have received are “So what?” and “What was the impact?”.

When the Libya crisis broke out, I asked permission in OCHA to call a meeting between OCHA and many of the VTCs. In the first teleconference, the Stand By Task Force (SBTF), an organized group of 150+ volunteers skilled in online Crisis Mapping, was activated to map out the social media and traditional media reports from within the country – the result: LibyaCrisisMap.net. So what?  Well, given that the UN had virtually no access to the country, we now had situational awareness. How much is that worth to a agency planning its response?  Could you plan with virtually no information? I know the site was being used by agencies such as the World Food Programme, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) the Red Cross,and USAID to perform certain types of analysis and to aid in their planning.

Read more at www.undispatch.com
 

The danger within

How many Canadians and Americans have traveled to Somalia in the last couple of years to get Al Quaeda training? Radicalization an issue here as well.

Amplify’d from www.google.com
Canadian hoping to join the Shebab arrested

OTTAWA — Canada's federal police arrested a Toronto area man for seeking to join the Shebab, a Somalian group bent on "terrorist activities," the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said Wednesday.

Mohamed Hersi, 25, was arrested at the Toronto airport on Tuesday.

The Canadian appeared in a Brampton, Ontario court on Wednesday to face charges of "attempting to participate in terrorist activity" and "providing counsel to a person to participate in terrorist activity."

The RCMP alleged that "he was about to board a plane bound for Cairo, Egypt transiting through London, England, to then go to Somalia."

There, the accused planned to join the Shebab and "participate in their terrorist activities," the RCMP said.

The Shebab is listed by the Canadian government as a banned terrorist organization, and so any participation in the group is illegal under Canadian law.

RCMP Inspector Keith Finn told a press conference Hersi's arrest came nearly six months after the launch of a probe into "domestic radicalization associated with Al Qaeda-related extremist ideology."

Read more at www.google.com
 

The tomb of king nuke?

A nuclear coffin at Fukushima. What monsters are going to come out of it in the coming years?

Amplify’d from www.bloomberg.com

Japan Weighs Entombing Nuclear Plant in Bid to Halt Radiation

Japan will consider pouring
concrete into its crippled Fukushima atomic plant to reduce
radiation and contain the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano yesterday ruled out the
possibility that the two undamaged reactors at Tokyo Electric
Power Co.’s six-unit Dai-Ichi plant would be salvaged. Units 1
through 4 suffered from explosions, presumed meltdowns and
corrosion from seawater sprayed on radioactive fuel rods after a
March 11 earthquake and tsunami cut power to reactor cooling
systems.

Workers have averted the threat of a total meltdown by
injecting water into the damaged reactors for the past two
weeks. The complex’s six units are connected with the power grid
and two are using temporary motor-driven pumps. Work to repair
the plant’s monitoring and cooling systems has been hampered by
discoveries of hazardous radioactive water.

The risk to workers might be greater than previously
thought because melted fuel in the No. 1 reactor building may be
causing isolated, uncontrolled nuclear chain reactions, Denis
Flory, nuclear safety director for the International Atomic
Energy Agency
, said at a press conference in Vienna.

Read more at www.bloomberg.com
 

Terrorism awareness: Canadian version

From the RCMP. A good resource.

Amplify’d from www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca

Make it part of your plan

Threats to national security can come in any form - biological or chemical, an explosive device, a computer virus, or a simple
bank transaction. Canada is not immune. If you suspect you have encountered terrorist planning activities call 1-800-420-5805.

Know what to look for

Threats to national security can come in any form. Canada is not immune. By working together, knowing what to look for and what to do with information we receive, we can make a difference, ensuring safety and security for all of us.

Although the ideologies and motivations may differ, terrorists share one thing in common — they plan their attacks. This planning exposes indicators that can become apparent in the days, weeks or months prior to an attack. The discovery of one of these indicators, when put in a broader context, could help prevent an attack.

Read more at www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca
 

From the top: gov't must use SM

Admiral Allen who led the Gulf Oil Spill response outlines the key importance of social media in disasters.

Adm. Allen: Government Must Master Social Media in Disaster Response
Retired Adm. Thad Allen, former commandant of the Coast Guard and leader of the federal BP oil spill response, said the U.S. government must do a better job informing the public in the aftermath of a disaster.

If federal authorities aren’t forthcoming with information, news media, social networks and bloggers will fill the gaps, and the government will quickly lose credibility, he said March 30 at the GovSec conference in Washington, D.C.

He likened the government’s choices on how to deal with social media to what someone once told him about climate change. It can either “suffer, adapt or manage.”

“I would submit to you that with the Internet, cyberspace and the 24-hour news cycle ... the world we all live in right now is the sociological equivalent of climate change,” he said.

The public expects the government to have the same understanding of the Internet as private sector companies such as Amazon do, but it doesn’t, he said.

He is an advocate for pushing as much unfiltered information as possible to the public domain. Such thinking figured into his decision to allow live, streaming video of the oil leaking on the seafloor bed during last year’s spill. There was opposition to showing the disconcerting images for more than 80 days, he admitted.

In the future, he would also support sharing geospatial, aerial imagery of disasters with the public “so they don’t have to ask questions,” he said.

He noted that victims of the recent tsunami and earthquake in Japan have used Facebook to find out what has happened to their families.

One problem is that senior U.S. leaders are still uncomfortable with technology, he said. “We have to put a premium on leaders in this country who understand technology,” he said. “We have to train senior leaders on what is going on in cyberspace.”
Read more at www.nationaldefensemagazine.org
 

Japan nuke crisis worsens

Where is this still going? How many years will it take to make the plant safe?

DisastersJapan widens evacuation radius

Japanese officials have enlarged the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, as workers continue their struggle to repair the damaged nuclear reactors; last Friday a "voluntary evacuation" of people still living within nineteen miles of the plant was issued; residents within nineteen miles have remained indoors unable to leave their homes to purchase basic supplies and companies have refused to deliver; the voluntary evacuation could add an even greater strain to existing temporary shelters; currently 242,881 people are still living in shelters around the country and officials are struggling to provide enough basic supplies like food, water, and sanitary goods

Japanese officials have enlarged the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, as workers continue their struggle to repair the damaged nuclear reactors.

Last Friday Prime Minister Naoto Kan issued a “voluntary evacuation” of people still living within nineteen miles of the plant, but was careful to shy away from indicating that the government was ordering a full evacuation.

Previously nearly 180,000 residents within a twelve mile radius had been ordered to evacuate, while residents in a twelve to nineteen mile radius had been instructed to stay indoors.

“The situation still requires caution. Our measures are aimed at preventing the circumstances from getting worse,” Prime Minister Kan said.

Read more at homelandsecuritynewswire.com
 

Again, with bad communications comes ...

Fear, uncertainty and despair. This whole situation is a perfect example of the need for sound crisis communications planning and execution.

Amplify’d from www.huffingtonpost.com


Japan Nuclear Crisis: Setbacks Mount In Leaking Plant

TOKYO -- Setbacks mounted Wednesday in the crisis over Japan's tsunami-damaged nuclear facility, with nearby seawater testing at its highest radiation levels yet and the president of the plant operator checking into a hospital with hypertension.

Nearly three weeks after a March 11 tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, knocking out power to the cooling system that keeps nuclear fuel rods from overheating, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is still struggling to bring the facility in northeastern Japan under control.

Radiation leaking from the plant has seeped into the soil and seawater nearby and made its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far as Tokyo, 140 miles (220 kilometers) to the south.

The stress of reining in Japan's worst crisis since World War II has taken its toll on TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu, who was sent to a hospital late Tuesday.

Read more at www.huffingtonpost.com
 

A huge write-off a Fukushima

These reactors were doomed as soon as they used seawater to try to cool them off.

Amplify’d from www.guardian.co.uk

Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel – but 'no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe'
• In pictures: Fukushima nuclear emergency - week three
• Interactive: Efforts to contain the nuclear accident

The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.

The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.

Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.

Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk
 

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

All resources brought to bear in Japan

The race to recovery continues.

Amplify’d from www.cbc.ca

Japan on 'maximum alert' in nuclear crisis: PM

Plutonium found in soil near Fukushima plant

Japan's prime minister is insisting his country is on "maximum alert" to bring its nuclear crisis under control as officials race to stabilize an earthquake-damaged reactor complex and contain the spread of radioactive water.

Naoto Kan told parliament on Tuesday, before a new earthquake was recorded off Japan's main island of Honshu, that Japan was grappling with its worst problems since the Second World War.

"This quake, tsunami and the nuclear accident are the biggest crises for Japan" in decades, said Kan.

He said the situation remained unpredictable, but added: "We will continue to handle it in a state of maximum alert."

Tuesday's tremor, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.3, struck around 8 p.m. local time near the spot of the devastating March 11 quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. There were no immediate reports of damage.

Read more at www.cbc.ca
 

Monday, March 28, 2011

The long road to recovery in Japan

The forgotten phase of emergency management.

Amplify’d from www.bjreview.com.cn
The Recovery Begins
Japan faces challenges as it begins to rebuild






Japan faces a tremendous challenge as it seeks to recover from the effects of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The most immediate challenge, of course, is the containment of radiation leaks from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. But ripples from the disaster will continue for some time, and Japan's recovery from the worst natural disaster in the nation's history will be costly and long.

The death toll is already far beyond the 1995 Kobe earthquake. The count continues as search and rescue teams scour the stricken northeastern coast for survivors. On March 20, an 80-year-old woman and her teenage grandson were found alive in the rubble of their home. But the current toll is expected to grow higher.

Japan is beginning to revive. Slowly, much-needed supplies are beginning to reach devastated areas as roads are reopened. Tokyo residents are adjusting to delayed trains, rolling blackouts, and national appeals to consumers not to stockpile food and water. Industry leaders are cooperating to manage shortages of goods and disruptions of the supply chain. Financial leaders around the globe met to facilitate Japan's intervention in the global currency markets.

Already, experts are debating the cost of rebuilding. The World Bank on March 21 estimated the amount at $230 billion, while the Japan Center for Economic Research produced a much lower estimate of 2 trillion yen ($24.6 billion). Despite the differences, experts agree this is likely to be the world's most expensive natural disaster.

In addition to the impact on infrastructure, the disaster will also have a major effect on the Japanese economy. The first impact, which has already been felt, is on Japan's industrial production. Interruptions in the supply chain have hurt some global Japanese manufacturers, including auto and semiconductor producers. Closure of major ports, airfields and roads has interrupted the flow of goods to and from Japan. Rolling blackouts beginning March 14 have also severely disrupted Japanese corporations and consumers.

Read more at www.bjreview.com.cn
 

Plutonium: scariest substance ever

Decades of contamination ?

Amplify’d from www.cbc.ca

Japan races to contain radioactive water spread

Plutonium found next to nuclear plant 'no threat to public health'

New pools of radioactive water have been detected around Japan's earthquake-damaged Fukushima nuclear complex, officials said Monday, as workers continued racing to contain leaks from the facility.

Scientists are still trying to devise a plan to safely store the radioactive water seeping from the coastal Fukushima Daiichi power plant, 220 kilometres northeast of Tokyo. On Monday, officials said soil samples and seawater taken from around the station showed traces of plutonium — a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

Although operators insisted the presence of plutonium posed no threat to public health, they believe the contaminated water has sent radiation levels in the area soaring. They added that only some of the plutonium samples were from the leaking reactors, while the rest came from earlier nuclear tests. Years of weapons testing in the atmosphere left trace amounts of plutonium in many places around the world.

'We cannot say at this time how many months or years it will take.'
Read more at www.cbc.ca
 

Pandemic anyone?

Even after the H5N1 and the H1N1 scares, things need to improve.

Amplify’d from news.xinhuanet.com



World ill-prepared for severe influenza pandemic: expert committee



GENEVA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The world is ill-prepared to respond to a severe influenza pandemic or to any similarly global, sustained, and threatening public health emergency, an independent expert-committee entrusted by World Health Organization (WHO) said at its fourth meeting here on Monday.


The Review Committee, tasked to look into the experience gained in the global response to the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009, issued its preliminary report at the meeting.


In the report, the Committee said, "global preparedness can be advanced through research, strengthened health-care delivery systems, economic development in low and middle-income countries and improved health status."


It recommended that international society establish an extensive global public health reserve corps consisted of experts and public health professionals, which could be deployed to support countries in need, in case of future pandemics.


Another suggestion was to create a contingency fund for public health emergencies to be held in trust at an institution such as the World Bank, in order to provide financial support during a declared public health emergency of international concern.


The report also urged WHO member states to reach an agreement on sharing of viruses and access to vaccines, and encouraged them to run independent or cooperative influenza research program.


WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said at the opening of the meeting that the report had offered "critical guidance to all ministers of health who need to make far-reaching decisions."


She said the recommendations in the report would help to " improve the capacity of WHO and the international community to respond to public health emergencies" and therefore should be taken with "added urgency."


In January 2010, WHO's Executive Board established a Review Committee, at Chan's proposal, to review the experience gained in response to the H1N1 pandemic, as well as the International Health Regulations and WHO's functioning in tackling the disease.


The Committee is expected to prepare its final report out of the current preliminary version, and submit it to the decision- making body of WHO in May.



GENEVA, March 28 (Xinhua) -- The world is ill-prepared to respond to a severe influenza pandemic or to any similarly global, sustained, and threatening public health emergency, an independent expert-committee entrusted by World Health Organization (WHO) said at its fourth meeting here on Monday.


The Review Committee, tasked to look into the experience gained in the global response to the influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in 2009, issued its preliminary report at the meeting.


In the report, the Committee said, "global preparedness can be advanced through research, strengthened health-care delivery systems, economic development in low and middle-income countries and improved health status."


It recommended that international society establish an extensive global public health reserve corps consisted of experts and public health professionals, which could be deployed to support countries in need, in case of future pandemics.

Read more at news.xinhuanet.com
 

When politics gets into the way of EM

Political interference in emergency management is not new. Social media will only exacerbate the situation as more public pressure on Twitter and Facebook will push some elected officials to meddle in operational issues and information dissemination.

Amplify’d from www.foxnews.com

While Slowing BP Oil Spill, Administration Slowed Flow Of Information Too, Claims Coast Guard Report

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration failed to set up an "effective" communications system during last year's BP oil spill and threatened its own credibility by "severely restricting" the release of "timely, accurate information," according to a newly released report commissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Quietly posted on the Coast Guard's website two weeks ago, the report offers the first major assessment of the federal government's communications efforts during the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

"Several layers of review and approval by the White House and (Department of Homeland Security) prevented timely and effective crisis communications and hindered the Coast Guard's ability to ... (keep) stakeholders informed about the status of the response," the report reads, adding that "accurate and timely messaging from the response organization improves transparency with the public."

Information centers in Houma, La., and Mobile, Ala. -- established by the Coast Guard in accordance with pre-set plans for major disasters -- were "effectively muted," the report reads.

Read more at www.foxnews.com
 

Another take on Fukushima

Hard to say who's providing accurate info.

Amplify’d from www.globalnews.ca

Highly radioactive water leaks from Japanese nuclear plant

TOKYO - Highly radioactive water has leaked from a reactor at Japan's crippled nuclear complex, the plant's operator said on Monday, while environmental group Greenpeace said it had detected high levels of radiation outside an exclusion zone.

Reflecting growing unease about efforts to control the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi complex, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) had appealed to French companies for help, the Kyodo news agency said.

The plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, was damaged in a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that left more than 27,000 people dead or missing across northeast Japan.

Fires, explosions and radiation leaks have repeatedly forced engineers to suspend efforts to stabilize the plant, including on Sunday when radiation levels spiked to 100,000 times above normal in water inside reactor No. 2.

A partial meltdown of fuel rods inside the reactor vessel was responsible for the high levels of radiation although Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the radiation had mainly been contained in the reactor building.

Read more at www.globalnews.ca
 

Radiation and fear spikes

When will we know all there is to know about the real risks posed by the Japanese nuclear disaster?

Amplify’d from www.washingtonpost.com

Radiation levels at Japan nuclear plant reach new highs


TOKYO — As radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant reached a new high Sunday, workers contended with dark, steamy conditions in their efforts to repair the facility’s cooling system and stave off a full-blown nuclear meltdown. Wearing respirators, face masks and bulky suits, they fought to reconnect cables and restore power to motor pumps the size of automobiles.

Leaked water sampled from one unit Sunday had 100,000 times the radioactivity of normal background levels, although the Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, first calculated an even higher, erroneous, figure it didn’t correct for hours.

Tepco apologized Sunday night when it realized the mistake; it had initially reported radiation levels in the leaked water from the unit 2 reactor as being 10 million times the norm, which prompted an evacuation of the building.

After the levels were correctly measured, airborne radioactivity in the unit 2 turbine building still remained so high — 1,000 milli­sieverts per hour — that a worker there would reach his yearly occupational exposure limit in 15 minutes. A dose of 4,000 to 5,000 millisieverts absorbed fairly rapidly will eventually kill about half of those exposed.

The latest confusion in the operation to stave off a full-scale nuclear meltdown at the crippled facility underscores the immense challenges for the several hundred workers in a desperate battle to restart the critical cooling systems. Seventeen workers have been exposed to high levels of radiation, including three who were hospitalized last week, as technicians conducted highly nuanced electrical work in dark conditions that one nuclear industry expert termed “hellish.”

Read more at www.washingtonpost.com
 

Just won't go away: nuke fears persist

The disaster that keeps on ticking ...

Amplify’d from www.reuters.com

WRAPUP 3 - Disaster-hit Japan faces protracted nuclear crisis






Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:06pm EDT



* Battle to control Fukushima plant seen far from over



* Japan crisis helps tip Germany poll against Merkel

* More than 27,000 dead or missing from quake and tsunami

* Magnitude 6.5 quake in north Japan triggers small tsunami

* Low-level radiation found in Massachusetts rainwater

(Adds Massachusetts rainwater contaminated)

By Kiyoshi Takenaka and Yoko Kubota

TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Japan appeared resigned on
Monday to a long fight to contain the world's most dangerous
atomic crisis in 25 years after high radiation levels
complicated work at its crippled nuclear plant.

Engineers have been battling to control the six-reactor
Fukushima complex since it was damaged by a March 11 earthquake
and tsunami that also left more than 27,000 people dead or
missing across Japan's devastated northeast.

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked the region on Monday, the
latest in a series of aftershocks, and officials warned it would
trigger a 50-cm (two feet) tsunami wave.

Radiation at the nuclear plant has soared in recent days.
Latest readings on Sunday showed contamination 100,000 times
normal in water at reactor No. 2 and 1,850 times normal in the
nearby sea.

Those were the most alarming levels since the crisis began.

"I think maybe the situation is much more serious than we
were led to believe," said one expert, Najmedin Meshkati, of the
University of Southern California, adding it may take weeks to
stabilise the situation and the United Nations should step in.

"This is far beyond what one nation can handle - it needs to
be bumped up to the U.N. Security Council. In my humble opinion,
this is more important than the Libya no fly zone."


Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has
conceded it faces a protracted and uncertain operation to
contain overheating fuel rods and avert a meltdown.

"Regrettably, we don't have a concrete schedule at the
moment to enable us to say in how many months or years (the
crisis will be over)," TEPCO vice-president Sakae Muto said in
the latest of round-the-clock briefings the company holds.

world's

TOKYO, March 28 (Reuters) - Japan appeared resigned on
Monday to a long fight to contain the world's most dangerous
atomic crisis in 25 years after high radiation levels
complicated work at its crippled nuclear plant.

Engineers have been battling to control the six-reactor
Fukushima complex since it was damaged by a March 11 earthquake
and tsunami that also left more than 27,000 people dead or
missing across Japan's devastated northeast.

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked the region on Monday, the
latest in a series of aftershocks, and officials warned it would
trigger a 50-cm (two feet) tsunami wave.

Radiation at the nuclear plant has soared in recent days.
Latest readings on Sunday showed contamination 100,000 times
normal in water at reactor No. 2 and 1,850 times normal in the
nearby sea.

Those were the most alarming levels since the crisis began.

"I think maybe the situation is much more serious than we
were led to believe," said one expert, Najmedin Meshkati, of the
University of Southern California, adding it may take weeks to
stabilise the situation and the United Nations should step in.

Read more at www.reuters.com