Multiple reports tell that a state of emergency has been declared at Japanese nuclear facilities after one station reportedly faced a cooling system failure following a massive 8.9 earthquake that rocked the area on Friday morning.
Japanese authorities are keen to stress that this is a precautionary measure allowing those responsible for handling activity at the nuclear facilities to take the appropriate steps to address any problems that may arise.
Japan said it was operating on an atomic power emergency footing but said no radiation leaks were detected among its reactors after an 8.9 magnitude earthquake struck on Friday, triggering a huge tsunami.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan declared the emergency to enable authorities to implement emergency measures. Residents living near plants were not required to take special action, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.
“We have declared a nuclear emergency state to take every possible precaution,” Edano said. “Let me repeat that there is no radiation leak, nor will there be a leak.”
“We ask residents in the areas near power plants to act calmly.”
A fire broke out in the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture, but operator Tohoku Electric Power said there were no indications of a radioactive leak, Kyodo News reported.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has also stressed that no radiation leaks have been detected. This remains the official word at the time of writing. Japanese reports suggest that the fire at the Onagawa nuclear facility may have been extinguished. This has yet to be confirmed.
Japanese officials have been adamant the state of emergency is a precautionary measure and that reports of an imminent meltdown at any of the nuclear plants are unfounded at this time.
From The Guardian:
The chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, said the nuclear power plant in Fukushima developed a mechanical failure in the reactor cooling system after it was shut down during the earthquake.
He said the measure was a precaution and there was no radiation leak at the Fukushima No 1 power plant. He said the facility was not in immediate danger.
“Parts of nuclear plants were automatically shut down but we haven’t confirmed any effects induced by radioactive materials outside the facilities,” Kan said.
Reuters reports that the The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is monitoring and actively seeking further updates as to the situation at Fukushima Daiichi “and other nuclear power plants and research reactors, including information on off-site and on-site electrical power supplies, cooling systems and the condition of the reactor buildings.”
President Obama has offered his condolences to those affected in this disaster, saying, “The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy. We will continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward and we are asking all our citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials as I have instructed FEMA to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the US states and territories that could be affected.”
This post is breaking news and may be subject to revision or additions. Changes will appear below the fold.
UPDATE (7 a.m. PST): Japanese authorities are reportedly evacuating around 3,000 citizens that live close to the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, though they have again stressed that this is a precautionary measure and have emphasized that the plant is not leaking radiation. The plant is located in Onahama city, northeast of Tokyo. Read more here.
UPDATE: (8:39 a.m. PST): The Reuters news agency reports that U.S. forces have delivered coolant to the affected nuclear plant. Read more here.
BREAKING: An explosion has occurred at one of Japan’s nuclear facilities. Click here for more.
Photo in the public domain taken from the Wikimedia Commons website.