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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Radioactive material detected in air, water in New York

Via Kyodo News :

" Trace amounts of radioactive iodine believed to have come from Japan's quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been detected in the air and rainwater in New York, the state's health department said.

There is no threat to public health, the department said in a statement published Tuesday. ''The most recent analyses show that levels range from 0.01-0.1 picocuries (one-trillionth of a curie) per cubic meter in air. These levels are similar or below what other states are reporting,'' it said.

In the United States, trace amounts of radioactive materials believed to have come from the Fukushima nuclear plant have also been detected in several other states, including Hawaii, California, Nevada, Florida and Massachusetts.

The amount detected in New York is ''dramatically below levels that would cause human health concerns,'' State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah said in the statement, adding that exposure to this level of radiation is thousands of times lower than common medical imaging procedures, such as chest X-rays."

Japan : Radiation in seawater at new high

Via NHK News :

" Radiation 4,385 times higher than the legal standard has been detected in seawater at a location 330 meters south of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says 180 becquerels per cubic centimeter of radioactive iodine-131 have been detected in seawater sampled on Wednesday afternoon.

The figure is far above the 3,355-times level detected on Tuesday.

Wednesday's sampling also revealed cesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, at a level 527 times higher than the legal standard.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says no fishing is being carried out in waters within 20 kilometers of the plant, and the radiation is likely to be diluted significantly by the time humans take it in through seafood."

Health official: More than 480 Venezuelan diagnosed with swine flu

Via Yahoo News :

" Venezuelan health officials say the number of confirmed swine flu cases in the country has risen to 482.

Officials have reported two deaths since an initial spate of swine flu cases were confirmed on March 17.

Health Minister Eugenia Sader told state television on Wednesday that no additional deaths caused by the H1N1 flu have been reported in recent days.

Opponents of President Hugo Chavez argue the government has not taken enough measures to contain the virus, which has spread to 19 of Venezuela's 24 states."

Indonesia : Bengkulu still on bird flu alert

Via Antara News :

" Bengkulu Province is still on alert of bird flu as H5N1 virus cases have been reported in every region in the province, a local official said.

"Although the number of bird flu cases does not increase, Bengkulu is still cautious of bird flu, and we ask the local residents to monitor their live poultry," Emran Kuswadi, Coordinator of Local Disease Control Center (LDCC), said here Tuesday.

Up to now, a total of 1,881 chickens had been dead because of bird flu virus, according to Emran.

Seven districts and cities have been particularly declared bird flu alert, namely Bengkulu, Seluma, Lebong, Bengkulu Tengah, Kepahiang, Kaur and Rejang Lebong districts.

The worst bird flu-affected district is Seluma where 1,175 chickens died of the H5N1 virus at two sub districts, he said."

Malaysia : Third police trainee dies of adenovirus

Via The Star :

" A third Police Training College (Pulapol) trainee has died in the adenovirus outbreak after fighting for his life in the intensive care unit for almost a month.

Trainee constable Mohamed Siman, 23, who died at 11.30pm at Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) on Tuesday, had been admitted to the ICU on March 5.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said Mohamed, whose body was sent to Tebuk Kiyai at Selekoh in Perak for burial yesterday, succumbed to multiple organ failure."

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log (Updates of 30 March 2011)

From IAEA :

" IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (30 March 2011, 16.30 UTC)

On Wednesday, 30 March 2011, the IAEA provided the following information on the current status of nuclear safety in Japan.

1. Current Situation


Overall at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the situation remains very serious.

With respect to the water that is present in the turbine buildings. In Unit 1, water has continued to be pumped into the condenser with 3 pumps (6.5 ton/hour each) and the water level has reduced from 40cm to 20cm. In Unit 2 from 07.45 UTC, pumping of water from the Condensate Storage Tank into the Surge Tank was started so that the that condenser can be drained to the Condensate Storage Tank and contaminated water can be pumped out from the Turbine building into the condenser. The same process of pumping the water from the Condensed Water Storage Tank into the Surge Tank was started on Unit 3 at 08.40 UTCon March 28.

Near the Unit 3 building, 3 workers spilled water over themselves when removing a flange from seawater pipes on the residual heat removal system (RHR). After showering, contamination was not detected.

Fresh water has been continuously injected into the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) through feed-water line at an indicated flow rate of 8.0 m3/h at Unit 1. The pumping of freshwater into the RPV has been switched from fire trucks to temporary electrical pumps with diesel generator. At Units 2 and 3 fresh water is being injected continuously through the fire extinguisher line at an indicated rate of 7 m3/h using a temporary electric pump.

The indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV of Unit 1 has decreased from 323 oC to 281 oC and at the bottom of RPV remained stable at 134 oC. There is a corresponding decrease in Drywell pressure. At Unit 2 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV has increased from 154 oC to 177 oC and at the bottom of RPV has increased from 78 oC to 88 oC. Indicated Drywell pressure remains at atmospheric pressure. For Unit 3 the indicated temperature at the feed water nozzle of the RPV is about 75 oC and at the bottom of RPV is about 116 oC. The validity of the RPV temperature measurement at the feed water nozzle is still under investigation."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Indonesia : Hospital treats 27 bird flu suspect patients

Translated article from Media Indonesia :

" Padang General Hospital (Dr), West Sumatra (Sumatra), as many as 27 people have treated bird flu patients susfect.

"Patients susfect bird flu continues to grow, from January to late March 2011," said spokesman Dr M Djamil, Gustavianof in Padang, on Wednesday (30 / 3).

He said the bird flu susfect patients who underwent treatment at the hospital in general come from the city of Padang.

"The bird flu susfect patients come from outside the city of Padang is the South Coastal District is only one person," he said.

He added that 24 people susfect bird flu patients have been allowed home by doctors hospital because his health condition has improved.

There were three patients susfect bird flu was still in hospital isolation rooms. "Team doctors are still checking their health condition," said Gustavianof.

He said the three men are in hospital isolation rooms, two of them just go for treatment. Two are from the city of Padang."

Japan : High radiation levels in waters off Fukushima

Article from NHK News :

" The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says radioactive iodine in excess of 3,300 times the national limit was found in seawater near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Tuesday afternoon. This was the highest measured in waters off the plant.

The level of radioactive iodine-131 found 330 meters south of a water outlet of the plant was 3,355 times regulated standards at 1:55 PM on Tuesday.

The outlet is used to drain water from the plant's No. 1 to No. 4 reactors.

Radioactive iodine-131 measured 50 meters north of the water outlet of the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors was 1,262 times the regulated standards at 2:10 PM on Tuesday.

This was also the highest reading at this location.

An agency official told reporters on Wednesday morning that people in a 20-kilometer radius area from the troubled plant have been ordered to evacuate and the radioactive substance will be significantly diluted in the ocean by the time people consume marine products. The official added that efforts need to be made to prevent the contaminated water from flowing into the sea.

Airborne radiation levels continue to decline in most prefectures, including Fukushima and nearby Ibaraki."

Japan : Edano - Cover may be used to stop radiation

Another article from NHK News :

" Japan's top government spokesman says the government and experts are considering whether to cover the reactor buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant with a special material, to stop the spread of radioactive substances.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters on Wednesday the experts are also examining the use of a tanker to collect irradiated water at the plant.

Edano said a variety of options are being studied to minimize radioactive contamination in areas around the plant, and to prevent health hazards.

He said working-level discussions are underway on the new measures and a political decision will probably be sought at some stage.

He said the whole situation is not at a point where he can responsibly say when the reactors will be brought under control. He said it will likely take a considerable amount of time before the fuel rods in the reactors and spent fuel pools cool down and stabilize."

Japan : Draining efforts continue

Via NHK News :

" Tokyo Electric Power Company is struggling to drain off highly radioactive water that is thought to have leaked from 3 reactors at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The vital work to cool down and stabilize the troubled reactors is being hampered by the leakage.

On Wednesday, it was confirmed that the level of water filling the basement of the turbine building near the No.1 reactor was almost half the initial level, after efforts to drain it began last Thursday.

Contaminated water was detected in the basements of the turbine buildings near the 3 reactors. Radiation readings of the water were about 100,000 times the normal level near the No.2 reactor and 10,000 times near the No.1 and No.3 reactors."

Japan nuclear: Fukushima seawater radioactivity 'rises'

Via BBC :

" Seawater near Japan's crippled nuclear reactors is said to have a much higher level of radioactive iodine than previously reported.

Water near the Fukushima Daiichi plant's reactor 1 contained radioactive iodine at 3,355 times the legal limit, Japan's nuclear safety agency said.

However, an official said the iodine would have deteriorated considerably by the time it reached people.

Meanwhile, the president of Fukushima operator Tepco has been hospitalised.

Masataka Shimizu is being treated for high blood pressure and dizziness, a Tepco spokesperson said.

Mr Shimizu has barely been seen in public since the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March which damaged the Fukushima plant."

Bolivia issues dengue alert following 23 deaths

Via Xinhua :

" Bolivia's Health Ministry Tuesday called on its people to keep vigilant against any symptoms of dengue after 23 fatalities and 4,000 cases of infection were reported nationwide in recent days.

Most cases have concentrated in the Amazon region of the South American country, with the highest numbers registered in the provinces of Beni and Santa Cruz, said Health Minister Nila Heredia.

In the Santa Cruz province alone, 11 of the 23 fatalities and some 1,200 cases were reported, Heredia said.

At the main children's hospital in Santa Cruz, there has been a daily admission of up to 50 new dengue cases this week, Heredia said.

Health authorities have alerted local information networks to call on mothers of infants and young children who are particularly vulnerable to dengue to swiftly report to the nearest hospitals if their infants and children have any dengue symptoms."

China : Virus in Chinese ducks could infect humans

Article from UPI :

" Ducks, an important item in Chinese cuisine, have been felled by a new virus threatening Chinese duck farms, agricultural officials in that country say.

Last year Chinese farmers noticed their prized birds were producing fewer eggs than usual, and egg production plummeted by as much as 90 percent in some flocks. Ducks were waddling about awkwardly, their coordination hampered, and eating less than usual. Some died within days.

By the end of the year some 4.4 million ducks in the eastern provinces of Fujian, Shandong and Zhejiang, where duck farming is common, had caught the mysterious illness, AAAS ScienceMag.org reported Tuesday.

Scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing analyzed the affected animals and discovered an aggressive new flavivirus, a class of viruses that includes those that cause yellow and dengue fevers.

It was the first flavivirus ever identified in ducks.

In addition to potentially affecting Chinese duck farming and the economy that depends on it, the flavivirus could put humans at risk, researchers said."

Bangladesh : 7,866 fowls culled in Dinajpur

Via The Daily Star :

" A total of 7,866 fowls were culled and 512 eggs damaged here in two days following detection of bird flu in Sadar and Parbatipur upazila.

Of them, 6,500 fowls were culled at Chehelgazi in Sadar upazila on Monday night and 1,366 culled in Parbatipur upazila on Sunday night.

Bird flu was detected at the poultry farm of Md Mosarraf Hossain at Chehelgazi on Monday, district livestock officials said. Samples of the affected birds were immediately sent to Joypurhat Livestock Research Institute for confirmation, they said. The confirmation reached here through a fax sent at night.

Dinajpur Sadar upazila nirbahi officer (UNO) Dr Mollah Mahmud Hasan and additional district magistrate Md Azizul Islam were present during the culling operation.

Earlier, 1,366 fowls were culled and 512 eggs damaged in Parbatipur upazila after detection of bird flu at a poultry farm at Sarkerpara village on Sunday night."

Japan : French experts to help remove radioactive water

Via NHK News :

" France says it will send 3 more nuclear experts to Japan to help with efforts to remove highly radioactive water from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Two other French experts are already in Japan and holding talks with the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company. The 5 are from French-based AREVA, one of the world's biggest nuclear energy firms.

They will help eliminate the polluted water that is hampering efforts to restore the plant's cooling functions.

This is the first time that France, the world's second largest operator of nuclear plants, has dispatched nuclear experts to Japan.

Soon after the accident occurred in Fukushima, France expressed its readiness to assist Japan, supplying radiation measuring vehicles and protective clothing."

Traces of radioactive iodine, cesium detected in S. Korea

Via Kyodo News :

" Trace amounts of radioactive iodine and cesium believed to have come from Japan's quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been detected in South Korea, the Education, Science and Technology Ministry said Tuesday.

The radiation level poses no risk to public safety and the environment, the ministry said.

Radioactive iodine has been detected in 12 radiation stations nationwide, including Seoul, while cesium was found only in Chuncheon, 85 kilometers west of Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday, citing the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.

''Most of the readings taken from captured nuclides were so minute they were barely detectable by existing instruments, and it took 24 hours to get precise readings,'' president of the nuclear safety agency Yun Choul Ho was quoted as saying."

One New H5N1 Outbreak Reported in South Korea

An article from The Poultry Site :

" In the last week, there has been one new outbreak of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI).

The veterinary authority sent Follow Up Report No. 10 dated 28 March to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The report describes one new outbreak of HPAI, which started on 22 March at Seosan-dong, Yeoncheon-city, Gyeongsangbuk-do (North Gyeongsang) in the south-east of the country. In total, 520 chickens of the 18,000-bird flock died and the rest were destroyed."

WHO : Avian influenza - situation in Egypt - update 48

From WHO :

" 29 March 2011 - The Ministry of Health of Egypt has announced three new confirmed cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus.

The first case is a 32 year old male from Suez Governorate. He developed symptoms on 8 March, was hospitalized on 12 March and died on 13 March.

The second case is a 28 year old female from Giza Governorate. She developed symptoms on 8 March and was hospitalized on 10 March. She is in a stable condition.

The third case is a 4 year old male from Behira Governorate. He developed symptoms on 5 March and was hospitalized on 7 March. He recovered and was discharged on 12 March.

Investigations into the source of infection indicate that the cases had exposure to sick and/or dead poultry suspected to have avian influenza."

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log (Updates of 29 March 2011)

Update from IAEA, excerpt :

" IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (29 March 2011, 16:30 UTC)

1. Current Situation

The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains very serious.

Accumulated contaminated water was found in trenches located close to the turbine buildings of Units 1 to 3. Dose rates at the surface of this water were 0.4 millisieverts/hour for Unit 1 and over 1 000 millisieverts/hour for Unit 2 as of 18:30 UTC on 26 March. The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan suggests that higher activity in the water discovered in the Unit 2 turbine building is supposed to be caused by the water, which has been in contact with molten fuel rods for a time and directly released into the turbine building via some, as yet unidentified path. An investigation is underway as to how the water accumulated in the trenches. Measurements could not be carried out at Unit 3 because of the presence of debris.

Fresh water has been continuously injected into the Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) of Units 1, 2 and 3. From today at Unit 1, the pumping of fresh water through the feed-water line will no longer be performed by fire trucks but by electrical pumps with a diesel generator. The switch to the use of such pumps has already been made in Units 2 and 3. At Unit 3, the fresh water is being injected through the fire extinguisher line."

Hong Kong : Call for vigilance against community-associated MRSA infection

Via Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health today (March 29) called on the public to be vigilant against infection by community-associated Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (CA-MRSA), a drug resistant bacterium.

The appeal was made following the CHP's investigation into a confirmed case of invasive CA-MRSA involving an 89-year-old man living in Wan Chai.

The patient presented with fever and cough on March 16 and was admitted to Ruttonjee Hospital the next day. He is currently in a stable condition. His blood specimen grew MRSA. His home contact was asymptomatic.

MRSA is a type of Staphylococcus aureus that is resistant to beta-lactam antibiotics. It is a common infection worldwide."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Q&A: How dangerous is the plutonium found at Fukushima power plant?

An informative article from Kyodo News on the dangers and aspects of Plutonium, excerpt :

" Plutonium has been detected in soil at five locations in the crippled Fukushima Daiichi atomic power plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co. The following are questions and answers regarding the potential health hazard of the highly toxic material.

Q: What are the salient characteristics of plutonium?

A: Plutonium emits alpha rays which get lodged in people's bones and lungs after being inhaled and could become highly carcinogenic. One half-life of plutonium-239, a variant of the radioactive element, is estimated at 24,000 years. It could keep emitting radiation inside a human body and is difficult to eliminate.

Q: How will the plutonium discovered this time at the plant affect human health?

A: The plutonium-238 isotope reading at one of the five contaminated spots was 0.54 becquerel per kilogram of soil. Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said that it is the same level as found in most soil so it is not a health hazard. Experts of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency also say that it does not pose any immediate threat to human health.

Q: How far has the plutonium traveled from the reactors?

A: Since plutonium is a heavy element, it is generally considered unlikely to travel very far. But given other highly concentrated radioactive materials were found outside the buildings that house the nuclear reactors, experts say it is necessary to stay vigilant over unfolding developments."

Japan : FOCUS - Courageous workers at troubled nuclear plant endure tough conditions

From Kyodo News :

" Each of the employees of Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other workers engaged in containing damage at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is given 30 survival food crackers and a 180 milliliter pack of vegetable juice for breakfast after getting up just before 6 a.m.

Around 400 workers including subcontractors are working there and are given just two meals per day, according to Kazuma Yokota, an official of the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Yokota stayed at the nuclear power plant damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami for five days through March 26 to check on progress in the ongoing operations.

After breakfast, the workers move on to their respective assignments at various locations within the plant at the center of the worst nuclear crisis in Japan. The workers are given no lunch.

Until March 22, they were given only one 1.5 liter bottle of mineral water per day. From March 23, however, with more supplies having arrived, they can ask for one more bottle, according to the official."

Japan : Edano - Detection of plutonium a serious concern

Another article from NHK News :

" Japan's top government spokesman says the detection of trace amounts of plutonium in ground at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant means the situation there is extremely serious.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Tuesday that the density of plutonium found in soil samples taken from the plant a week ago was about the same as that found in the environment from past nuclear tests abroad.

But he said 2 of the samples appeared to contain the type of plutonium used in nuclear fuel, making it most likely that reactor fuel rods were the source.

Edano said that the traces of plutonium, combined with the detection of highly radioactive water, back up the view that nuclear fuel rods have partially melted.

He said the government is doing all it can to control the impact of the contamination and contain the situation."

Japan : TEPCO urged to check leaked water in tunnels

Via NHK News :

" The government's nuclear safety agency has ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company to closely monitor radiation and water levels in tunnels outside the turbine buildings for 3 damaged reactors.

The water was found leaking from the reactors and is filling tunnels linking the reactor buildings to outside the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Radioactivity on the surface of water found just outside the turbine building of the Number 2 reactor is particularly high, at over 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

The nuclear agency told reporters on Tuesday that as far as it is aware, the tunnels are not flooded, and are not directly connected to the sea.

As of Monday, the water had reached 10 centimeters from the mouth of the tunnel for the No.1 reactor. It was about a meter from the mouth of tunnel from the No. 2 reactor and 1.5 meters from the No. 3 reactor tunnel."

Japan : TEPCO urged to check leaked water in tunnels

Via NHK News :

" The government's nuclear safety agency has ordered Tokyo Electric Power Company to closely monitor radiation and water levels in tunnels outside the turbine buildings for 3 damaged reactors.

The water was found leaking from the reactors and is filling tunnels linking the reactor buildings to outside the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Radioactivity on the surface of water found just outside the turbine building of the Number 2 reactor is particularly high, at over 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

The nuclear agency told reporters on Tuesday that as far as it is aware, the tunnels are not flooded, and are not directly connected to the sea.

As of Monday, the water had reached 10 centimeters from the mouth of the tunnel for the No.1 reactor. It was about a meter from the mouth of tunnel from the No. 2 reactor and 1.5 meters from the No. 3 reactor tunnel."

Australia : More residents face dengue testing

Via ABC News :

" Queensland Health says another nine people are undergoing tests for dengue fever in Cairns, in the state's far north.

Four people have been diagnosed with the mosquito-borne virus in the city in the suburbs of Mooroobool and Manunda.

Fifty-five people have been diagnosed with the illness at Innisfail, although the cases are not thought to be linked.

Authorities are urging people to protect themselves with repellent and to empty containers around the home."

Ireland : Flu death toll reaches same level as swine outbreak

Via Independent :

" The official number of people who died from flu this winter is almost on par with last year's swine flu outbreak, it emerged yesterday.

There have been 26 deaths from flu recorded here since October -- just one short of the 27 who were killed by the virus when swine flu swept Ireland last year.

However, while deaths in the winter of 2009/2010 were all due to swine flu, it was slightly less of a threat during the season just gone, according to the Health Protection Surveillance Centre. Since October, 21 of the deaths were due to swine flu, three were caused by influenza B, one as a result of both viruses, and another due to some strain of influenza A.

Vulnerable


In 23 cases, patients had underlying medical conditions which left them vulnerable to the complications of flu, but three were previously healthy.

Last year, pre-existing medical conditions were reported in 25 of the 27 deaths, including respiratory disease, heart problems, asthma and obesity."

Japan : Radioactive trench water not confirmed to have overflowed - agency

An article from Kyodo News :

" Radioactive water that has been filling up underground trenches connected to the crippled reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has not been confirmed to have overflowed, the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Tuesday.

The nuclear regulatory body said the levels of water in the trenches some 55 to 70 meters away from the shore that were found by the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Sunday have been stable and that the utility has taken measures to stop the water from flowing out. The plant is situated on the Pacific coast.

Among the trenches connected to the Nos. 1-3 reactor buildings, water in the gutter linked to the No. 1 unit is just 10 centimeters below its ground-level hole and the firm, also known as TEPCO, has put up sandbags and concrete blocks around the hole."

Venezuelan Health minister confirms 415 cases of influenza AH1N1

Via El Universal :

" Eugenia Sader, Venezuela s Minister of Health, said that the cases of influenza AH1N1 have spread throughout 19 states, adding that no new deaths were reported

Venezuela's Minister of Health Eugenia Sader confirmed at a press conference that there are 415 cases of influenza AH1N1 nationwide, spread in 19 Venezuelan states. She said that no new deaths have been reported. "The number of deaths remains unchanged," she added.

The top health official said that there are confirmed cases of AH1N1 in the states of: Mérida (189 cases); Capital District (77); Miranda (69); Trujillo (15); Táchira (10); Carabobo (8); Lara (7); Guárico (5); Aragua (5); Vargas (5); Yaracuy (5); Cojedes (5); Zulia (4); Amazonas (3); Nueva Esparta (2); Barinas (2); Anzoátegui (2); Sucre (1) and Portuguesa (1). The figures corresponded to January 1-March 27.

Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez on Sunday urged people during his weekly program Aló Presidente (Hello, President) to meet hygiene standards recommended by the Ministry of Health and welcomed the cooperation of private hospitals."

US : Superbug found in California hospitals

Via CNN :

" A deadly superbug, thought to be rare on the West Coast, is appearing in large numbers in Southern California, according to a new study.

In seven months last year, there were 356 cases of carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella pneumoniae (CRKP), according to the study by the Los Angeles County Department of Health. The cases were in health care facilities such as hospitals and nursing homes.

People outside such facilities were not affected. CRKP has been officially reported in 36 states, but health officials expect it’s in the 14 others states as well, where reporting is not required."

Radioactive material detected in air of 3 southern U.S. states

An article from Kyodo News, excerpt :

" Trace amounts of radioactive material believed to have come from Japan's quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been detected in the atmosphere in South Carolina, North Carolina and Florida, Reuters news service reported Monday, citing officials.

There is no current threat to public safety, the report said, quoting Drew Elliot, a spokesman for the power generation and distribution company Progress Energy Inc., which operates some of the power plants in the southern states.

Monitors at several nuclear plants in the three states picked up low levels of radioactive iodine-131, the report said."

Over 28,000 dead or missing in Japan disaster

Via NHK News :

" More than 28,000 people have died or are missing following the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan's northeast coast on March 11th.

The National Police Agency says that as of 9 PM on Monday, 11,004 people had been confirmed dead and 17,339 listed as missing. Police have identified 8,030 of the bodies.

The largest number of deaths --- 6,692 --- has been reported in Miyagi Prefecture, with 3,264 dead in Iwate and 990 in Fukushima.

Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima are the prefectures hardest-hit by the quake and tsunami.

The number of confirmed deaths in Fukushima is low because search operations have been suspended in areas 20 kilometers from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant."

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log

From IAEA :

" Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Update (28 March, 23:00 UTC)

Japan Confirms Plutonium in Soil Samples at Fukushima Daiichi.

After taking soil samples at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japanese authorities today confirmed finding traces of plutonium that most likely resulted from the nuclear accident there. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told the IAEA that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had found concentrations of plutonium in two of five soil samples.

Traces of plutonium are not uncommon in soil because they were deposited worldwide during the atmospheric nuclear testing era. However, the isotopic composition of the plutonium found at Fukushima Daiichi suggests the material came from the reactor site, according to TEPCO officials. Still, the quantity of plutonium found does not exceed background levels tracked by Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology over the past 30 years."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Japan : Edano warns TEPCO on mistakes

From NHK News :

" Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says he has strongly instructed Tokyo Electric Power Company to avoid the release of erroneous data on radiation leaks at its troubled nuclear power plant.

TEPCO on Sunday corrected an earlier announcement about the radiation levels in water leaking from the Number 2 reactor's turbine building, saying a water analysis had been incorrect.

Edano said radiation analyses serve as the basis for ensuring safety at the plant, where workers are struggling to safely cool the reactors and other machinery.

He said he also urged TEPCO to secure adequate back-up personnel for the workers.

The government spokesman then referred to a report that some residents are temporarily returning to their homes in areas within 20 kilometers of the nuclear plant, despite the fact that the areas are under an evacuation instruction."

Japan : Radioactive water removal underway, fresh seawater pollution found

Via Kyodo News, excerpt :

" Work to remove highly radioactive water from inside buildings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continued Monday, in an effort to enable engineers to restore the power station's crippled cooling functions, while high radioactive concentrations were again detected in the nearby sea.

The plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said early Monday that the concentration of radioactive substances of a pool at the No. 2 reactor was 100,000 times higher than usual for water in a reactor core, correcting its earlier analysis of 10 million times higher.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a press conference that the highly radioactive water found at the basement of the No. 2 reactor's turbine building is ''believed to have temporarily had contact with fuel rods (in the reactor's core) that have partially melted.''

The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, a government panel, said Monday in its recommendations to Prime Minister Naoto Kan that highly radioactive water in the No. 2 reactor's containment vessel could have directly leaked, raising concerns that polluted water could spread to the building's underground and to the sea."

Japan : URGENT - Radioactive water at No. 2 reactor due to partial meltdown: Edano

Another one from Kyodo News :

" The government believes highly radioactive water detected at the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is due to a partial meltdown of fuel rods there, its top spokesman said Monday.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference that the government believes that the meltdown was only temporary."

Japan trying to remove highly radioactive water at troubled nuke plant

Via Kyodo News :

" Work to remove highly radioactive water from inside buildings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant continued Monday, with the radiation level of a pool in the basement of the No. 2 reactor's turbine building measured at more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

Removal of such water in four reactor units is necessary to reduce the risk of more workers being exposed to radioactive substances, as the risk hinders efforts to restore the plant's crippled cooling functions, which are crucial to overcoming the crisis.

Meanwhile, a strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 jolted Miyagi Prefecture and its vicinity in northeastern Japan on Monday morning, but plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the quake was unlikely to affect work to restore the reactors' key cooling functions.

The utility, known as TEPCO, said early Monday the concentration of radioactive substances of the pool at the No. 2 reactor was 100,000 times higher than usual for water in a reactor core, correcting its earlier analysis of 10 million times higher.

The government's nuclear safety agency has instructed the plant operator to take necessary measures to avoid such errors, which have undermined the credibility of TEPCO's assessments."

Radiation in seawater may be spreading in Japan

Via The Associated Press :

" TOKYO (AP) -- Highly radioactive iodine seeping from Japan's damaged nuclear complex may be making its way into seawater farther north of the plant than previously thought, officials said Monday, adding to radiation concerns as the crisis stretches into a third week."

S. Korea detects small amount of radioactive xenon

Via Kyodo News :

" A small amount of radioactive xenon, believed to have come from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, has been detected by a South Korean detection station, South Korea's Nuclear Safety Information Center said Monday.

''Evaluation has arrived at a high possibility the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant caused by the March 11 giant earthquake had caused the xenon detection,'' a press release from the center said.

The center said the level of the radioactive material poses no concern for health and environment.

The xenon was detected from March 23 to 27 at a station in northeastern Gangwon Province."

Australia helps Indonesia tackle bird flu

An article from ABC News :

" The Australian Government has set up a $22 million, four-year project to help Indonesia control the spread of bird flu.

The news comes after two people died in West Java of bird flu, and more cases of sick birds were reported in Bali.

The Australian chief veterinary officer Dr Andy Carroll says Australia needs to help Indonesia stop bird flu spreading so easily around the country."

Japan : Delay feared in restoring cooling systems

From NHK News, more bad news :

" At the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, high radioactive density detected in 3 turbine buildings may further delay work to restore the cooling systems for the overheated fuel rods.

Tokyo Electric Power Company says that on Sunday it detected 100,000 times the normal density of radioactive substances in the leaked water in the Number 2 reactor's turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The water surface had a high radiation level of more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

In similar tests conducted earlier, about 10,000 times the normal radioactive density had been detected in the turbine buildings of the Number-1 and -3 reactors as well."

Japan : Woes deepen over radioactive water at nuke plant, sea contamination

Via Kyodo News :

" Japan on Sunday faced an increasing challenge of removing highly radioactive water found inside buildings near some troubled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, with the radiation level of the surface of the pool in the basement of the No. 2 reactor's turbine building found to be more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

Exposure to such an environment for four hours would raise the risk of dying in 30 days. Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for the government's nuclear safety agency, said the figure is ''quite high'' but authorities must find a way to pump out the water without sending workers too close to push ahead with the restoration work.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said early Monday the concentration of radioactive substances of the puddle was 100,000 times higher than that usually measured in water in a reactor core, correcting its earlier analysis of 10 million times higher.

Adding to the woes is the increasing level of contamination in the sea near the plant, although Nishiyama reiterated there is no need for health concerns so far because fishing would not be conducted in the evacuation-designated area within 20 kilometers of the plant and radioactive materials ''will be significantly diluted'' by the time they are consumed by marine species and then by people.

Radioactive iodine-131 at a concentration 1,850.5 times the legal limit was detected in a seawater sample taken Saturday around 330 meters south of the plant, near a drainage outlet of the four troubled reactors, compared with 1,250.8 times the limit found Friday, the agency said."

Japan : Tiny amounts of radiation from Japan reach Nevada

Via Yahoo Health :

" Nevada has joined several western states in reporting that minuscule amounts of radiation from Japan's damaged nuclear plant are showing up.

But as with the other states, scientists say there is no health risk. Extremely small amounts of the radioactive isotopes iodine-131 and xenon-133 reached a monitoring station by Las Vegas' Atomic Testing Museum this week, said Ted Hartwell, manager of the Desert Research Institute's Community Environmental Monitoring Program.

Hartwell said he's certain the isotopes came from Japan because they're not usually detected in Nevada. But he said the readings were far below levels that could pose any health risks."

Brazil : Rio de Janeiro reports over 10,000 dengue fever cases in 2011

Via Xinhua :

" The number of dengue fever cases in Rio de Janeiro city this year has already surpassed 10,000, local health authorities said on Friday.

According to the city's Health Secretariat, in less than three months, the number of confirmed dengue fever cases in Rio reached 10,158, exceeding the figures registered in the entire years of 2009 (2,723) and 2010 (3,120).

In Rio de Janeiro state, the number of confirmed dengue fever cases reached 20,150, and the death toll rose to 18.

This week, the first two cases of type-4 dengue fever in Rio de Janeiro state were confirmed in the city of Niteroi. The type-4 dengue fever is not more dangerous than the other types, but as the disease had not been registered in the region before, the local population has no immunity to it."

Mexico state near US on alert after H1N1 deaths

Via Yahoo News :

" Authorities in Mexico's Chihuahua state along the US border announced preventive health measures Sunday to stanch a return of an H1N1 epidemic after four people recently died of the virus.

"School checks will be implemented following a renewed outbreak of H1N1 human influenza, as a means of protecting all students from possible infection," said Javier Gonzalez, Chihuahua's deputy secretary of education, culture and sport.

Gonzalez said four people had died in the state since last week, when authorities discovered a fresh outbreak of the virus, and state health officials quickly launched a vaccination campaign and outreach programs to inform the population about prevention measures."

Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log (Updates of 27 March 2011)

From IAEA :

" IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (27 March 2011, 13:30 UTC)

1. Current Situation


The situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains very serious. The restoration of off-site power continues and lighting is now available in the central control rooms of Units 1, 2 and 3.

Also, fresh water is now being injected into the Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPVs) of all three Units. Radiation measurements in the containment vessels and suppression chambers of Units 1, 2 and 3 continued to decrease. White "smoke" continued to be emitted from Units 1 to 4.

Pressure in the RPV showed a slight increase at Unit 1 and was stable at Units 2 and 3, possibly indicating that there has been no major breach in the pressure vessels. At Unit 1, the temperature measured at the bottom of the RPV fell slightly to 142 °C. At Unit 2, the temperature at the bottom of the RPV fell to 97 °C from 100 °C reported in the Update provided yesterday.

Pumping of water from the turbine hall basement to the condenser is in progress with a view to allowing power restoration activities to continue. At Unit 3, plans are being made to pump water from the turbine building to the main condenser but the method has not yet been decided.

This should reduce the radiation levels in the turbine building and reduce the risk of contamination of workers in the turbine building restoring equipment. No notable change has been reported in the condition of Unit 4. Water is still being added to the spent fuel pools of Units 1 to 4 and efforts continue to restore normal cooling functions. Units 5 and 6 remain in cold shutdown. We understand that three workers who suffered contamination are still under observation in hospital.

2. Radiation Monitoring

Dose rates at the Fukushima site continue to trend downwards. In 28 of the 45 prefectures for which data are available, no deposition of radionuclides was detected in the period 18 to 25 March. In seven of the other 17 prefectures, the estimated daily deposition was less than 500 becquerel per square metre for iodine-131 and less that 100 becquerel per square metre for caesium-137.

On 26 March, the highest values were observed in the prefecture of Yamagata: 7 500 becquerel per square metre for iodine-131 and 1200 becquerel per square metre for caesium-137. In the other prefectures where deposition of iodine-131 was reported, the daily range was from 28 to 860 becquerel per square metre. For caesium-137, the range was from 2.5 to 86 becquerel per square metre."

WHO : Influenza update - 25 March 2011

The latest influenza update from WHO, excerpt :

" Update number 130

Summary

Influenza activity in most areas of the northern hemisphere temperate regions appears to have peaked and is declining. Although the level of pneumonia and influenza mortality in the United States of America (USA) is above the epidemic threshold and many states still are reporting on widespread activity, most indicators on influenza activity in North America are indicating decreasing influenza activity. As activity in the Americas declines, influenza A(H1N1)2009 has increased proportionately and now accounts for 38% of all virus detections.

In Europe the peak has been passed in most countries and all countries now report medium or low influenza activity. Cases of Severe Acute Respiratory Infections in Europe are decreasing but still above baseline in some parts of Eastern Europe. Influenza viruses in Europe continue to be primarily influenza A(H1N1)2009, about 70% of all viruses characterized, and influenza type B, making up about 28% of all viruses.

Data from parts of Northern Africa show that there is ongoing community transmission of both influenza A(H1N1l)2009 and influenza type B in Tunisia and Algeria. The large majority of the viruses characterized are closely related to the vaccine strains included in the current seasonal vaccines.

Viruses which have been characterized antigenically continue to be largely related to the lineages found in the current trivalent seasonal vaccine except for a small number of influenza B viruses of the Yamagata lineage."

Friday, March 25, 2011

Japan : High-level radiation suspected to be leaking from No. 3 reactor's core

An article from Kyodo News :

" High-level radiation detected Thursday in water at the No. 3 reactor's turbine building at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant appears to have originated from the reactor core, the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Friday.

But no data, such as on the pressure level, have suggested the reactor vessel has been cracked or damaged, agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama emphasized at an afternoon press conference, backing down from his previous remark that there is a good chance that the reactor has been damaged. It remains uncertain how the leakage happened, he added.

A day after three workers were exposed Thursday to water containing radioactive materials 10,000 times the normal level at the turbine building connected to the No. 3 reactor building, highly radioactive water was found also at the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors' turbine buildings."

US : Dengue fever hits Pearl City (Hawaii)

From Star Advertiser :

" The illness, spread by mosquitoes, turns up in four people in one area

Four people who live in the same Pearl City neighborhood are the first known Hawaii cases of locally contracted dengue fever since a 2001 outbreak in which 153 people were infected with the mosquito-borne viral illness, health officials announced yesterday.

A Pearl City woman who traveled to Wisconsin last month was hospitalized for high fever, among other symptoms, and was diagnosed with dengue fever after a blood test for the disease came back positive.

Also showing symptoms of the disease are two adults who are members of her family and their neighbor. None has traveled elsewhere.

Two cases are confirmed, and the other two are awaiting test results.

"It's certainly possible, given that we've found this cluster of four — two of whom were not diagnosed by their clinicians — it's entirely possible there were others," said state Epidemiologist Sarah Park. "You only need one person infected who has the virus in their blood and they get bit by a mosquito, and you have a mosquito that's infected."

Park likened it to drug users spreading disease by sharing dirty needles."

Bird flu strain discovered in the Netherlands

An article from Vetsweb :

" H7 strain of bird flu has been discovered on a poultry farm in the Netherlands, the Dutch government has confirmed.

The bird flu strain was detected at a poultry farm in the municipality of Kapelle, located in the province of Zeeland, the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation acknowledged in a statement.

The Ministry stated that the outbreak involved the H7 variant but that the exact subtype of the bird flu virus was not yet known, and noted that the low pathogenic variant is able to mutate into a highly pathogenic variant.

In compliance with European rules, all 127,500 chickens at the poultry farm will be culled immediately and a movement ban applying to poultry, eggs, poultry manure, poultry litter and poultry food for a radius of 1 kilometer has been announced."

Japan : Tap water warning for infants in parts of Ibaraki

Via NHK News :

" Some municipalities in Ibaraki Prefecture, to the south of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, are advising residents not to give tap water to babies less than one year old, as tests show it contains radioactive substances that exceed safe levels.

Hitachi City, Hitachi Ota City and Tokai Village conducted tests again on Thursday, after checks at local purification plants a day earlier found that tap water had levels of radioactive iodine-131 above the permitted levels for infants.

A maximum of 229.6 becquerels per liter of radioactive iodine-131 was found in Hitachi, 150 becquerels in Hitachi Ota and 123 becquerels in Tokai."

IAEA : Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log

The latest from IAEA with regards to the situation in Japan nuclear plants :

" Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update (25 March 2011, 05.15 UTC)

Update on Conditions of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

At Unit 1 workers have advanced the restoration of off-site electricity and lighting in the Unit's main control room was recovered as of 24 March, 11:30 UTC. They are now checking the availability of the cooling system.

While the pressure in the reactor vessel remains high, Japanese authorities are reporting that it has stabilized.

At Unit 2 engineers are working for the recovery of lighting in the main control room, and the instrumentation and cooling systems.

At Unit 3, around 120 tonnes of seawater was injected in the spent fuel pool via the cooling and purification line. The operation was carried out between 23 March, 20:35 UTC and 24 March, 07:05 UTC.

Work was under way for the recovery of the instruments and cooling systems. However, it had to be suspended because three workers were exposed to elevated levels of radiation on 24 March.

At Unit 4, the spent fuel pool was sprayed with around 150 tonnes of water using concrete pump truck. The operation was carried out between 24 March, 05:36 UTC and 06:30 UTC of the same day.

At Units 5 and 6, repair of the temporary pump for Residual Heat Removal (RHR) was completed as of 24 March, 07:14 UTC, and cooling started again 21 minutes later.

At the Common Spent Fuel, the power supply was restored as of 24 March, 06:37 UTC and cooling started again 28 minutes later. Work is now under way for the recovery of the lighting and instrumentation systems.

As of 24 March, 09:40 UTC, the water temperature of the pool was around 73 °C.

As of 24 March, 10:30 UTC workers continue to inject seawater into the reactor pressure vessels of Units 1, 2 and 3 and are preparing to inject pure water."

Indonesia : In W. Java, Bird-Flu Battle Starts With Clean Coops

Via Jakarta Globe :

" With avian flu continuing to be a pressing concern, the state has launched a program to teach West Java farmers how to reduce the spread of disease among chickens. The project, initiated by the Indonesian-Dutch Partnership on High Pathogenic Avian Influenza (IDP) in August is now training farmers in West Java, the country’s biggest supplier of poultry with 36 million chickens last year.

Mimi, who has been raising chickens for 10 years, was among 24 farmers in Padamulya, Subang, being trained in biosecurity techniques, or simply put, healthy farming methods. The 39-year-old said the information was useful, though she never had to deal with avian flu in all her years as a farmer. “Thank God, during my 10 years of chicken farming, none of my animals have ever been infected,” she said.

The only time the disease cut into her business was in 2005, when a bird-flu epidemic pushed down chicken prices. More recently, she was unable to ship poultry to Jakarta due to a three-month ban to June last year."

Japan : High radiation detected in water at plant

Via NHK News :

" Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has detected high levels of radioactive substances in water that 3 workers were exposed to at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The company says 3.9 million becquerels of radioactive substances per cubic centimeter were detected in the water that the workers were standing in. That is 10,000 times higher than levels of the water inside a nuclear reactor in operation.The level of radioactive cerium-144 was 2.2 million becquerels. Also, 1.2 million becquerels of iodine-131 was measured.

These substances are generated during nuclear fission inside a reactor.Tokyo Electric says damage to the No.3 reactor and spent nuclear fuel rods in a storage pool may have produced the highly radioactive water."

Japan : Radioactive water detected in 6 prefectures

Another article from NHK News :

" Radioactive water has been detected at water purification facilities in Tokyo and 5 other prefectures. The level of radioactive iodine-131 at 18 purification plants exceeds Japan's safety limit for infants.Radioactive iodine-131 does not exist in nature.

Experts believe it was carried by the wind from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to surrounding areas, and then washed down into rivers by rain.The governments of Tokyo, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Chiba, Saitama and Tochigi prefectures have detected more than 100 becquerels of iodine per liter of water, above the safety level for infants under 12 months. But the water is safe for adults because it's not above the 300 becquerel safety limit for them.

Hosei University professor and air-borne contamination expert Kentaro Murano says it's hard to predict where the radioactive substances will spread, because the wind blows in various directions at this time of year.Murano says people should not overreact when they see small changes in levels. He points out that if it rains several times, all the radioactive substances in the air and on the ground will be washed out to sea."

Singapore finds radioactivity in imported Japan vegetables

Now Singapore reporting low levels of radiation found in imported vegetables from Japan. Article via Reuters :

" Singapore said on Thursday its authorities had found low levels of radioactive contaminants in four samples of vegetables imported from Japan.

It said samples of wild parsley, rapeseed plant, mustard and perilla leaf were found to have elevated levels of radiation, although an adult would have to consume 3.5 kg (7.7 lb) of these vegetables to receive a similar amount of radiation as one X-ray.

The contaminated samples were imported from the affected prefectures of Tochigi and Ibaraki, as well as Chiba and Ehime which are outside the affected areas."

Japan : Excessive radioactivity found in Tokyo vegetable

Via NHK News, now Tokyo reports radiation in their vegetables :

" Japan's health ministry says radiation above the legal limit has been detected in a vegetable grown in Tokyo. This is the first time that radioactive cesium exceeding the legal limit has been found in a Tokyo vegetable.

The ministry says the radioactive cesium was detected on Thursday in a leafy vegetable taken from a field in Edogawa ward on Wednesday. The vegetable is called Komatsuna, or Japanese mustard spinach. The radioactive level was 890 becquerels per kilogram, exceeding the legal limit of 500.

The vegetable was grown at a research center, and is not being sold on the market.The health ministry says that level of radioactivity would not have an adverse effect on health, even if the vegetable was eaten."

US : DOH confirms two cases of dengue fever on Oahu (Hawaii)

An article from Khon 2, dengue reports coming out of the island Hawaii :

" The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is investigating two confirmed cases and two suspected cases of Oahu residents who became ill with dengue fever in late February. All four adults have recovered and are no longer ill. Based on the ongoing investigation, the four cases appear to be related and were infected near their homes by mosquitoes.

“The Department of Health immediately began precautionary measures by conducting additional testing, surveying and developing a mosquito control plan for the specific areas where these four individuals were likely infected,” said Interim Health Director Loretta Fuddy. “We need the public’s help to clean up mosquito breeding areas throughout Oahu by emptying all standing water, and checking gutters and other areas that collect water.”

The DOH sent out a medical alert to Oahu physicians earlier this week advising them to consider potential dengue infection in persons with compatible symptoms, request appropriate laboratory testing, and report all suspected cases to the DOH."

IAEA : Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log

Updates from IAEA, excerpt :

" IAEA Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident (24 March 2011, 21.30 UTC)

On Thursday, 24 March 2011, Graham Andrew, Special Adviser to the IAEA Director General on Scientific and Technical Affairs, briefed Member States on the current status of nuclear safety in Japan. His opening remarks, which he delivered at 15:30 UTC at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, are provided below:

Current Situation

As far as the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi site are concerned, there is some good news to report from the last 24 hours, although the overall situation is still very serious.

With AC power connected, instrumentation continues to be recovered in Units 1, 2 and 4. Workers returned after being evacuated from Units 3 and 4 on March 23, following confirmation that black smoke emissions from Unit 3 had ceased.

Reactor pressure is increasing in Unit 1, pressure readings are unreliable in Unit 2, and stable in Unit 3 as water continues to be injected through their feed-water pipes. The temperature at the feed-water nozzle of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) is decreasing at Units 1 (243 °C) and 3 (about 185 °C), and stable at Unit 2 (about 102 °C).

Units 5 and 6 are still under cold shutdown, they are undergoing maintenance using off-site AC power and existing plant equipment.

Dose rates in the containment vessels and suppression chambers of Units 1 and 2 have decreased slightly.

Radiation Monitoring

The IAEA radiation monitoring team made additional measurements at distances from 21 to 73 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. At distances between 34 and 73 km, in a westerly direction from the site, the dose rate ranged from 0.6 to 6.9 microsievert per hour. At the same locations, results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 0.04 to 0.4 Megabecquerel per square metre.

At distances between 30 and 32 kilometers from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, in a north westerly direction from the site, dose rates between 16 and 59 microsievert per hour were measured. At these locations, the results of beta-gamma contamination measurements ranged from 3.8 to 4.9 Megabecquerel per square metre. At a location of 21 km from the Fukushima site, where a dose rate of 115 microsieverts per hour was measured, the beta-gamma contamination level could not be determined."

One More Bird Flu Outbreak in Myanmar

Via The Poultry Site :

" One new outbreak of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) has been reported to OIE.

The veterinary authority sent Follow Up Report No. 4 dated 23 March to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The report describes an outbreak of HPAI on an egg farm in the centre of the country at Fame Kar village in the Sagaing region. It started on 16 March in two flocks of layers aged four months and 19 months. There were two layer units and a total of 780 chickens and a few chickens were found dead starting from 16 March. In all, 350 chickens died within four days and the rest of the flock has since been destroyed. "

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Japan : Radioactive iodine 146.9 times higher in seawater near nuke plant

More from Kyodo News :

" Abnormally high levels of radioactive materials were again detected in the sea near the crisis-hit nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, its operator said Thursday, warning the radiation levels in seawater may keep rising.

According to Tokyo Electric Power Co., radioactive iodine-131 146.9 times higher than the legal concentration limit was detected Wednesday morning in a seawater sample taken around 330 meters south of the plant, near the drain outlets of its troubled four reactors.

The level briefly fell to 29.8 times the limit on Tuesday morning from 126.7 times on Monday, but rose to its highest so far in the survey begun this week apparently due to rain and water sprayed at spent fuel pools from outside that caused radioactive materials to seep into the sea, it said.

The firm also said it found both iodine-131 and cesium-137 in a sample taken from near the drain outlets of the plant's No. 5 and No. 6 reactors that stabilized Sunday in so-called ''cold shutdown.''

Iodine-131 19.1 times higher than the limit was also detected Wednesday afternoon in a sample taken some 16 kilometers south of the nuclear power station, up from 16.7 times on Tuesday."

Japan : 3 workers exposed to high radiation, 2 sustain possible burns

More update on situation with regards to some of "The Fukushima 50" who were exposed to radiation. News from Kyodo News :

" Three workers were exposed to high-level radiation Thursday while laying cable at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and two of them were taken to hospital due to possible radiation burns to their feet, the nuclear safety agency and the plant operator said.

The three men in their 20s and 30s were exposed to radiation amounting to 173 to 180 millisieverts at around 12:10 p.m. while laying cable underground at the No. 3 reactor's turbine building.

The two hospitalized are workers of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s affiliated firm and had their feet under water while carrying out the work from 10 a.m., according to the utility known as TEPCO and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The two, who were diagnosed with possible beta ray burns at a Fukushima hospital, will later be sent to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba Prefecture, the agency said.

TEPCO said radioactive water may have seeped through the workers' radiation protective gear, causing radioactive materials in the water to stick to their skin. The burns are caused by direct exposure to beta rays, the utility added.

Following the incident, workers at the first and the basement floors of the No. 3 reactor's turbine building were told to evacuate the area."

Philippines : Iloilo to destroy “dengue” breeding grounds

An article from Philippines Information Agency (PIA) :

" Two lives have been claimed by Dengue in Iloilo and with this health concern, Governor Arthur Defensor will lead the province-wide “People Power Kontra Dengue” today March 25 to get rid of the breeding grounds of the dengue carrier mosquitoes.

Dr. Patricia Grace Trabado, Iloilo Provincial Health Office said in a PIA interview that the activity will be held at the Provincial Capitol grounds at 8:00 in the morning where provincial government employees will spearhead the clean up activities at the vicinity of the Iloilo Provincial Capitol while similar activities will be held in the province’s 42 municipalities and one component city."

Spain : Swine flu still around in Costa Blanca

Via Euro Weekly :

" BETWEEN September 2009 and February 2011, Elche Hospital has been studying Swine Flu cases; of 1,423 patients, 453 tested positive. In the Vega Baja, 141 cases out of 455 studies tested positive, in Torrevieja 36 out of 117, in Cuidad Jardin 17 out of 51 and at Vinalopo Hospital 11 out of 38 cases studied tested positive for Swine Flu.

The Baix Vinalopo Public Health Director held a conference on Swine Flu (H1N1) in the context of the ongoing course at Elche General Hospital on antibiotics."

Japan : 2 nuclear plant workers sent to hospital

Another article from NHK News, this time with regards to the heroes on the ground "The Fukushima 50" :

" Japan's nuclear safety agency says 2 workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were taken to hospital on Thursday after being exposed to high-level radiation at the plant.

The agency says the workers' feet were accidentally exposed to 170 to 180 millisieverts of radiation while they were working in the turbine building of the Number 3 reactor.

A third worker was also exposed to radiation but apparently did not require treatment."

Japan : Iodine levels on the rise near Fukushima plant

From NHK News :

" Tokyo Electric Power Company says the level of radioactive iodine is on the rise in waters near the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.On Wednesday morning, the plant operator detected radioactive iodine-131 at a level 147 times higher than safety standards at a location 330 meters away from a water outlet of the facility.

The substance measured 127 times above the standard on Monday, when the first survey was conducted. The reading dropped the following day to 30 times over the benchmark.Wednesday's survey also found higher-than-standard doses of radioactive cesium-134 and cesium-137.

The government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says levels of radioactive materials fluctuate depending on ocean currents, adding it will continue to closely monitor the situation."

Indonesia : Gunungkidul, Yogyakarta - A dead patient suspected of contracting bird flu

From Ida at Bird Flu Information Corner :

" A 26-year-old female named Sri Supartilah, a resident of Desa Pacarejo, Semanu, Gunungkidul died after being treated for 3 days in Sardjito hospital, Yogyakarta on Wednesday, 23 March.

Patient who was a housewife, is suspected of contracting avian influenza (H5N1) infection.

Head of Health Service Kabupaten Gunungkidul, dr. Sri Raharto, said the cause of death is still unknown. Currently, confirmation test is undergoing by Ministry of Health."

Japan : Pressure rises inside No.1 reactor container

From NHK News :

" Tokyo Electric Power Company is taking measures to reduce pressure inside the No.1 reactor containment vessel at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The power company began injecting more water into the No.1 reactor on Wednesday, after temperatures on the reactor surface reached about 400 degrees Celsius, exceeding the safety limit of 302 degrees.Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the influx of massive amounts of water has raised the pressure inside the reactor containment vessel.

The power company cut back on the water injection early on Thursday. This resulted in pressure inside the container dropping to 0.3585 mega-pascals, below the safety limit of 0.528 mega-pascals.The reactor temperature also dropped to 243 degrees as of 5:00 AM on Thursday."

Mexican Finds Molecule That Could Help Combat Malaria

An article from Latin American Herald Tribune :

" A doctoral student has discovered a molecule that could be the key to reducing the development of malaria parasites inside the host mosquito, Mexico’s Research and Advanced Studies Center, or Cinvestav, said Wednesday.

The work of Monica Gonzalez Lazaro revealed that by “shutting off” one of the mosquito’s defense molecules the proliferation of malaria parasites inside the insect decreased and, with it, the efficiency of disease transmission, Cinvestav said in a statement."

Japan : Radioactive iodine found in Kawaguchi

An article from NHK News :

" The city of Kawaguchi, north of Tokyo, says radioactive iodine-131 has been detected in one of its 7 water purification facilities.

The municipal government announced on Thursday that it detected 120 becquerels of iodine per liter of water in a survey carried out on Tuesday.

The reading is above the 100-becquerel safety level for infants but is safe for adults.The city is calling on residents to refrain from letting infants drink tap water."

Japan : Tokyo to provide bottled water for infants

Via NHK News :

" The Tokyo Metropolitan government says it will distribute mineral water to families with infants following reports that radioactive material above permissible levels for babies has been detected at one of its purification plants.The Metropolitan Waterworks Bureau announced on Wednesday that 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 were detected on Tuesday in one liter of water at a purification plant in northern Tokyo.

The amount is safe for adults but double the 100-becquerel limit set for infants.The Metropolitan government is calling on residents in Tokyo's 23 wards and 5 adjacent cities to refrain from giving tap water to infants aged less than 12 months.Authorities are also urging firms and facilities, including child daycare centers in these areas, not to use tap water when preparing drinks or baby food for infants.

The water bureau announced late on Wednesday that many consumers have rushed to buy bottled water at stores in these areas, making it difficult for people to secure safe water.It said it will ask local municipalities to distribute three 550-milliliter bottles of mineral water for each of the 80,000 infants in these areas on Thursday.The Metropolitan government plans to provide more water to these families in the future, and is calling on mineral water bottlers to increase production."

US : 3 more anti-viral resistant flu cases found in DE

Via WGMD, excerpt :

" State Public Health officials have found 3 more cases of anti-viral resistant flu in Delaware. A 1-month old girl and a 33 year old woman in Kent County and a 3 year old Sussex County boy have all been infected with an influenza A/H1N1 that is resistant to Tamiflu – the most used treatment. While these cases are rare, this makes a total of 4 anti-viral resistant flu cases found this year. Other treatments for the flu are available."

Venezuelan gov't confirms 124 events of H1N1

Via El Universal :

" A total of 25 are infected with the influenza in Caracas

Venezuelan health authorities confirmed that 124 events of H1N1 have been recorded in Venezuela as of Wednesday.

Minister of Health Eugenia Sader said that the Capital District has recorded 25 cases of influenza A. She added that the Venezuelan government has enough vaccines to deal with the outbreak."

Japan : Smoke disrupts nuke plant restoration work, radiation fears reach Tokyo

Another article from Kyodo News :

" Work to restore power and key cooling functions was disrupted again Wednesday at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as black smoke caused workers to evacuate, while the fear of radioactive pollution spread to Tokyo with an alert not to give tap water to infants.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano unveiled estimates that people outside of a 30-kilometer radius of the plant, in which residents have been ordered to evacuate or remain indoors, could be exposed to radiation of 100 millisieverts or more, an annual dose believed to be associated with an increased risk of cancer.

Based on the estimates, the top government spokesman urged residents in areas downwind from the power station to stay inside buildings and avoid exposure to air as much as possible as a precaution.

At the disaster-stricken plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., black smoke was seen rising at the east of the No. 3 reactor building, leading 11 workers to evacuate from four of the six reactors and water-spraying operations by fire trucks to be aborted.

The radiation level was unchanged shortly afterward, meaning the smoke did not result in a massive release of radioactive materials, the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. Smoke was also seen billowing from the No. 3 reactor building on Monday but its cause remains unknown."

Japan : Infant radiation dose over 30 km from plant may be over 100 millisieverts

Via Kyodo News :

" The radiation dose received by one-year-old infants outside of a 30-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant since Saturday's explosion at the plant may have exceeded 100 millisieverts, a computer simulation conducted by the government showed Wednesday.

''There are some cases in which they could have received more than 100 millisieverts of radiation, even if they're outside the 30-kilometer radius and in the event that they spent every day outdoors since the explosion at the Fukushima nuclear plant,'' Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference."

India : Swine flu is back, one dead in Punjab

Article from India Report :

" The deadly swine flu is back with Punjab reporting the season's first fatality due to the disease.Punjab reported the maximum number of eight cases this week while Delhi reported two and Rajasthan one, Health Ministry officials said.

Till date, samples from 2,06,155 persons have been tested for influenza A H1N1 in government laboratories and a few private laboratories across the country and 46,484 (22.6 per cent) of them have been found positive."

Japan disaster: over 25,000 dead or missing

Via NHK News :

" More than 25,000 people are officially dead or missing after the earthquake and tsunami that struck northeastern Japan on March 11th.According to the National Police Agency, 9,523 people are confirmed dead as of 11 PM on Wednesday.

The agency says it has received reports of 16,094 people missing.Most of the dead and missing are from the 3 hardest hit prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima.The number of confirmed deaths in Fukushima totals 776, far smaller than the more than 57,000 in Miyagi and the nearly 3,000 in Iwate.

This may be due to the suspension of search operations in areas within 20 kilometers of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, because of radiation leaks.Figures appear almost certain to rise because of the absence of family members to report the dead and missing. In some areas, entire families appear to have perished in the tsunami that followed the magnitude 9.0 quake.

Emergency shelters are accommodating more than 200,000 people, mostly from the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima, according to NHK figures. More than 30,000 people, mainly from Fukushima, have fled their hometowns to other prefectures.

Some survivors who have returned to their homes in areas where essential services have been restored are suffering from shortages of supplies, and are having to seek food at shelters for local residents.The National Police Agency says at least 18,000 houses were destroyed by the quake and tsunami, and more than 130,000 homes were damaged."

Indian states bordering Bangladesh vulnerable to bird flu

Via Yahoo News :

" Indian states bordering Bangladesh have become vulnerable to bird flu with Dhaka failing to check the contagious disease as well as the smuggling of poultry products into India, officials here say.

'Of the total of 64 Bangladesh districts, over 40 districts are hit by avian influenza or bird flu,' Tripura animal resource development department's joint director Jyotirmoy Chakraborty told IANS here.

Five Indian states - West Bengal, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Assam and Tripura - share a 4,095- km border with Bangladesh. This includes a 2,979-km land border.

All the five states are occasionally affected by bird flu."

IAEA : Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Update (23 March, 20:00 UTC)

IAEA's latest update :

" Japanese authorities today announced a number of developments at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, where reactor cooling systems were disabled following the massive earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.

At Units 1, 2, 3, and 4, workers have advanced the restoration of off-site electricity, and the lights are working in Unit 3's main control room.

Black smoke was seen emerging from the Unit 3 reactor building, spurring the temporary evacuation of workers from Units 3 and 4. The emission of smoke has now decreased significantly.

Crews continued today to use a concrete pump truck to deliver high volumes of water into the Unit 4 spent fuel pool, where there are concerns of inadequate water coverage over the fuel assemblies.

At Units 5 and 6, workers have successfully restored off-site power to the reactor, which had previously reached a safe, cold shutdown status."

Vietnam : Ben Tre resident dies of swine flu at HCMC hospital

Via Saigon Daily :

" A resident from the Mekong delta province of Ben Tre was confirmed dead from the swine flu virus at Cho Ray Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City on March 21.

Dr. Nguyen Van Thang, Director of Ben Tre Department of Health, confirmed that 51-year-old Lam Van Loc had died in the hospital. However, medical workers have not yet verified the cause of death as the man suffered from chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular.

Lam Van Loc, head of the Department of Legislature in his province, experienced tiredness, fever and breathing problems and was rushed to the Ben Tre General Hospital on March 20. After his condition did not improve, he was transferred to Cho Ray Hospital where he died a day later."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japan : UPDATE 2: Kan warns against eating Fukushima vegetables over radiation

Another article from Kyodo News :

" Prime Minister Naoto Kan warned consumers Wednesday against eating leaf vegetables such as spinach harvested in Fukushima Prefecture in the first measure involving food consumption to be taken since radioactive materials far exceeding legal limits were found in vegetables there.

The order will take effect ''for the time being,'' government officials said. Top Japanese government spokesman Yukio Edano said the warning is a precaution, denying the radiation levels could pose an immediate risk to human health.

The prefecture is home to a nuclear plant that has been crippled by the devastating March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami and caused radiation leaks.

Edano, chief Cabinet secretary, said in a news conference that the readings on radioactive substances in these vegetables have been going up.

Edano sought to allay unnecessary fears, saying that Japan has a ''strict safety standard'' compared to other nations and will seek a ''rational response'' from them after explaining the facts."

Japan : Radioactive iodine exceeding limit for infants found in Tokyo tap water

An article from Kyodo News :

" The Tokyo metropolitan government warned Wednesday that infants should not drink tap water as radioactive iodine exceeding the limit for them were detected in water at a purification plant.

According to the metropolitan government, 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine were detected per 1 kilogram of water against the limit of 100 becquerels.

The detection follows the devastating earthquake earlier this month that crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant."

Japan : Edano comments on veggie shipment suspensions

Via NHK News :

" Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has officially announced that the government has instructed the governors of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures to suspend shipments of and warn against eating some farm produce because of radiation contamination.

Edano said at a news conference on Wednesday that eating such vegetables and drinking milk from the prefectures temporarily pose no health risks.But he said the government issued the instructions at an early stage as a precaution, assuming that contamination will be found in the area for a long time.

Edano also said the government will compensate farmers affected by the suspensions.He added that other farm produce from the area poses no health risks, and called on consumers to remain calm."

IAEA : Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Update (23 March, 1:10 UTC)

From IAEA, their latest update with regards to the efforts currently being taken to restore power to the nuclear plant in Fukushima, excerpt :

" Restoring power to Fukushima Daiichi

Without electrical power, cooling systems at Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors cannot operate. Many of the problems facing the nuclear power plant stem from the loss of electrical power at the site following the massive earthquake and tsunami on 11 March. The earthquake cut off external power to the plant and the tsunami disabled backup diesel generators.

Japanese officials have been working to restore power to the facility, and their efforts are organized in three phases.

Units 1 and 2

Reactor cooling systems at these units are severely hampered. There is suspected damage to the nuclear fuel in both units. Workers have successfully connected off-site electrical supplies to a transformer at Unit 2 on 19 March and later to at least one electrical distribution panel inside the plant. Technicians are conducting diagnostic tests to determine the integrity of the reactor’s electrical systems.

Japanese authorities plan to connect Unit 1 sometime after Unit 2. Because of the degraded condition of the Unit1 reactor building, this work may take more time compared to Unit 2, were the reactor building sustained significantly less damage since the earthquake intact.

Units 3 and 4

Reactor cooling systems at Unit 3 are severely hampered. There is suspected damage to the reactor’s fuel, and the condition of its spent fuel pool is uncertain. Unit 4 had been shut down for routine maintenance � and all its fuel was removed to the reactor building’s spent fuel pool � prior to the earthquake. There is therefore no concern about fuel in the reactor core, but considerable concern about the fuel from the spent fuel pool.

Workers are moving toward restoring electricity to both units, but their progress is uncertain."

Japan : Kan asks Fukushima residents not to eat leaf vegetables over radiation

From Kyodo News :

" Prime Minister Naoto Kan instructed Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato on Wednesday to order residents not to eat leaf vegetables harvested in the prefecture for now after radioactive materials far exceeding legal limits were found in 11 types of vegetable grown in Fukushima, where a troubled nuclear plant is located.

Leaf vegetables subject to Kan's order included spinach, the ''komatsuna'' leaf vegetable, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower, the government said.

Kan also instructed the governor to suspend for the time being shipments of these vegetables as well as turnips produced in the prefecture.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry earlier in the day issued a call to consumers not to eat the 11 vegetables, including spinach and komatsuna.

The National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, or JA Zen-Noh, which distributes many of the prefecture's vegetables, has not shipped any of the produce since Monday, the ministry said.

In the latest sign that the impact of radiation leaks is slowly spreading beyond Fukushima, the premier also asked Masaru Hashimoto, governor of Ibaraki, a prefecture neighboring Fukushima, to suspend shipment of raw milk and parsley produced in his prefecture.

If a person eats 100 grams of the vegetable with the largest detected amount of radioactive materials for about 10 days, it would be equal to ingesting half the amount of radiation a person typically receives from the natural environment in a year, the ministry said.

If a person keeps eating the vegetable at the same pace, the amount of radiation intake could exceed the amount deemed safe, the ministry said.

The ministry detected 82,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium, 164 times the limit under the food sanitation law, in ''kukitachina'' leaves from Motomiya, along with 15,000 becquerels of radioactive iodine, which is more than seven times the limit, it said.

The ministry also detected a level of cesium drastically exceeding the limit in some of the other vegetables, it said."

Argentina Has First Dengue Death

Via Fox News :

" A young Argentinean girl who had traveled to Bolivia became the first dengue fatality in Argentina, officials said.

The girl, who was 13, lived in the Argentine city of Cafeyate “but was infected in Bolivia during the carnival celebrations” the government said in a statement."

Bangladesh : 30,000 chickens culled

Via BDNews 24 :

" Nearly 30,000 chickens have been culled and 50,000 eggs destroyed at a farm in Gazipur after detection of bird flu infection.

Sripur Upazila livestock officer A K M Ataur Rahman told bdnews24.com that the chickens of Humaira Poultry Farm had started dying on Saturday.

Samples of the chickens were sent to Dhaka immediately and the order to cull them came on Tuesday, he said."

Venezuela confirms 100 new cases of A/H1N1 influenza

Via Xinhua :

" At least 100 new cases of the A/H1N1 influenza have been confirmed in Venezuela this year, Venezuelan Health Minister Eugenia Sader said on Tuesday.

He said that three of each 10,000 people are vulnerable toward infection of this particular type of infleunza, Sader said at a press conference, and urged all Venezuelan with symptoms of this disease to immediately report to health centers. The A/H1N1 infleunza can be deadly if not treated early.

She also said vaccinations are only authorized for children and elders, which are considered the groups of people most vulnerable to the virus, but ruled out any need for the government to issue an epidemiological alert."

Japan : Over-limit radioactive materials found in 11 Fukushima vegetables

An article from Kyodo News, growing concerns on tainted food products due to radiation :

" Radioactive materials drastically exceeding legal limits set under the food sanitation law have been found in 11 types of vegetable grown in Fukushima Prefecture, including broccoli and cabbage, the health ministry said Wednesday.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry called on consumers not to eat the 11 vegetables, also including spinach and the ''komatsuna'' leaf vegetable, produced in the prefecture, where a troubled nuclear power plant is located, for the time being.

The prefecture's vegetables grown in open-air environments are being distributed by the National Federation of Agricultural Cooperative Associations, or JA Zen-Noh. No shipments of these vegetables have been made since Monday, it said.

If a person eats 100 grams of the vegetable with the largest detected amount of radioactive materials for about 10 days, it would be equal to ingesting half the amount of radiation a person typically receives from the natural environment in a year, the ministry said.

If a person keeps eating the vegetable at the same pace, the amount of radiation intake could exceed the amount deemed safe, the ministry said."

Australia : Dengue outbreak sparks fines threat

Via ABC News :

" Council officers are going from house to house in two suburbs in Cairns in far north Queensland looking for mosquito breeding sites after an outbreak of dengue fever.

Queensland Health has confirmed two cases of the mosquito-borne disease in Mooroobool and Manunda, with test results pending for a further three people.

The council's environmental assessment manager, Laurie Phipps, says most residents are doing the right thing to protect their properties.

"We've got eight people out there at the moment," he said.

"It'll keep going until we get the clear to say that there's no more been advised and that there's no pending cases and that there's no active cases out there.

"We'll keep doing it until that comes up and stops."

Japan : High radiation detected 40km from nuclear plant

Via NHK News :

" Japan's science ministry says radiation exceeding 400 times the normal level was detected in soil about 40 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.The ministry surveyed radioactive substances in soil about 5 centimeters below the surface at roadsides on Monday.

The ministry found 43,000 becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 per kilogram of soil, and 4,700 becquerels of radioactive cesium-137 per kilogram about 40 kilometers west-northwest of the plant.Gunma University Professor Keigo Endo says radiation released by the iodine is 430 times the level normally detected in soil in Japan and that released by the cesium is 47 times the norm.Endo says the data means that a person staying at the location for one year would be exposed to 4 times the amount of radiation allowed by national standards.

The professor says there is no immediate health risk, but that radioactive cesium can accumulate in soil and that radiation levels must continue to be monitored.The science ministry says there is no environmental standard for radioactive substances in soil, and that it sees no problem at this time."

IAEA : Fukushima Nuclear Accident Update Log

From IAEA, its a long update but it has the exact information needed, excerpt :

" Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Update (22 March 23:15 UTC)

Unit 2

Coolant within Unit 2 is covering about half of the fuel rods in the reactor, and Japanese authorities believe the core has been damaged. Following an explosion on 15 March, Japanese officials expressed concerns that the reactor’s containment may not be fully intact. As of 19 March, 11:30 UTC, officials could no longer confirm seeing white smoke coming from the building. Smoke had been observed emerging from the reactor earlier. White smoke/vapour was observed again from 9:22 UTC on March 21 and diminished to nearly invisible by 22:11 UTC the same day. During the time of smoke emission, an increase in radiation dose rates was reported at 9:30 UTC 21 March. TEPCO then ordered an evacuation of plant personnel, though workers returned as of 00:00 UTC 22 March.

Efforts to pump seawater into the reactor core are continuing.

On 20 March, workers began pumping 40 tonnes of seawater into the spent fuel pool. Spent fuel temperature remains relatively stable with readings between 49 and 53°.

Restoration work to return power to all units continues, with progress at Unit 2 the most advanced. A distribution panel (power center) of Unit 2 has been connected to off-site electricity supply, and individual components in the unit are being checked prior to being energized.

On 18 March, Japan assigned an INES rating of 5 to this unit.

Unit 3

Coolant within Unit 3 is covering about half of the fuel rods in the reactor, and Japanese authorities believe the core has been damaged. High pressure within the reactor’s containment led operators to vent gas from the containment. Later, an explosion destroyed the outer shell of the reactor building above the containment on 14 March. Indicated containment pressure has stabilized over the past 24 hours.

Following the explosion, Japanese officials expressed concerns that the reactor’s containment may not be fully intact. White smoke has been seen emerging from the reactor, but on 19 March it appeared to be less intense than in previous days. Grey smoke was observed on 21 March in the southeast corner of Unit 3 from 6:55 UTC. After two hours this smoke turned to a white color and gradually diminished. By 22:11 21 March, the smoke was observed to be �ceasing.’ As reported under the Unit 2 update, during the time of smoke emission, an increase in radiation dose rates was reported at 9:30 UTC 21 March. TEPCO then ordered an evacuation of plant personnel, though workers returned as of 00:00 UTC 22 March."

Hong Kong : Public hospitals announce the latest Human Swine Influenza cases (1 fatality)

From Hong Kong's Centre for Health Protection :

" In response to the influenza situation in Hong Kong, the Hospital Authority (HA), in close collaboration with the Centre for Health Protection, has activated the enhanced monitoring system for severe influenza patients staying in the intensive care units of public hospitals. The HA spokesman today (March 22) said there was no new confirmed case of Human Swine Influenza (HSI).

A 62-year-old female patient confirmed with HSI at Princess Margaret Hospital earlier succumbed yesterday (March 21) due to continued deterioration of clinical condition. The hospital expressed deep condolences to the patient's family.

As at 2pm today, a total of three influenza patients were staying in the intensive care units of public hospitals."