back to article Fukushima reactor shell ruptured?

The head of the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) says that the concrete shell enclosing the troubled No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi complex is "no longer sealed," and that the disaster should now be ugraded to Level 6 on the seven-level International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), placing it one step …

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Re:

They're definitely managing the information released from this event in a manner that is likely to cause legitimate anger.

Right now it's reactors 2 + 4 that look to pose the biggest immediate threats, the fire in 4 is NOT H2, that much is obvious - I'd put money on the fact the spent fuel rods are exposed and are self combusting - after all, that is why they require active coolant.

This isn't over by a long shot.

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Alien

re information management

A Japanese govt spokesman on the radio this morning 'refused to comment' on reactors 5 + 6, which given the way things have panned out so far with the other four, suggest they are about to follow their fellows in going titsup. Now that they've finally pulled out the poor bloody workers trying to keep a lid on it, its not going to go away anytime soon.

When they started talking about using helicopters to drop water (or sand I suppose) to cool the reactor, you can't help but be reminded of similar images from Chernobyl 25 years ago. Presumably they're getting rather close to the bottom of their box of unorthodox fixes.

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Dead Vulture

"This isn't over by a long shot."

But Lewis said it is:

"All reactors' temperature is now under control and the residual heat reactions inside them continue to die away; soon, no further cooling will be required."

I don't know who to believe any more!

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If the reactors aren't in a state of active meltdown ....

... Lewis certainly will be. He won't like people seeing this information or interpretation of it at all.

Not one bit.

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Grenade

Lewis's China Syndrome

Lewis won't stop digging until the hole extends all the way to China.

Remember, he's an expert on things that go "bang", not radiation. Since the fuel rods are melting, not exploding, everything is under control from his point of view. I guess that the temporary evacuation of the remaining 50 people for him means that they are not needed anymore!?

Good to see that Rik reads other sources besides WNN.

Small point of correction, though: The 1000 mSv that the BBC and all other Western news outlets are reporting (must all use the same source) have apparently just been 1000 µSv (according to NHK). Max. last night seems to have been 10 mSv (NHK). And the latest news on NHK read "Japan's science ministry has observed radiation levels of up to 0.33 millisieverts per hour in areas about 20 kilometers northwest of [...] Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Experts say exposure to such radiation for 3 hours would result in absorption of 1 millisievert, or the maximum considered safe for 1 year."

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The biggest mistake...

The biggest mistake in all this is that as soon as an emergency situation arose, the Japanese Nuclear Safety Agency (or whatever its called in Japan) should have taken complete control of the situation and they should have been the only ones making press releases.

TEPCO naturally are going to try and protect their asses, and so cant be trusted to be 100% honest (especially with their past history). So this situation should be being completely managed by the government (or even more preferably an independent) safety agency. At least then we would get accurate and (relatively) honest reports coming out.

Additionally TEPCO need to seriously sack there public relations people! In this sort of situation what you want to give is regular reports (every 2 hours minimum), providing accurate factual information. A report saying " Radiation at plant of ****mS detected. Radiation at 10km from plant of ****mS detected. These values can have this effect on people. Plant A is *** hours from complete shut down. Plant B is *** from shut down. Plant C, etc....". Just give the facts, explain that when things happen (the explosions for example) they were expected, and what effects they will have. Thats what the public want - The Facts.

At the moment, the long silences, the sort of half information and banal platitudes about safety and that "all is well" that are being released are having the exact opposite effects to reassuring the public.

I'm a bloody engineer and it seems i know more about public relations then the PR people TEPCO are paying a lot of money too!

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WTF?

Nah...

Surely all is safe and there is no chance of there being any sort of breach in the containment, after all it says so here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/03/14/fukushiima_analysis/

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Yup

It's what I've been told here many times -- it's all safe and I don't know a thing, slaggedd off now and then over my ignorance.

I do know that the Japanese government and thier nuclear experts have been downplaying it all along. I also can read the world's 'experts' comments and see that it's all full of 'maybe' and 'hopefully' and 'if' -- what I've seen all along has been no actual real assurance of safety, always 'it might work if we do this and that' and it's all been reactive measures not proactive.

I've also been told here it's no problem building the things on or near fault lines.

No, I'm not doing 'I told you so'. More like 'I've noticed the desparation in the reports and the uncertanty behind all the measures taken so far - why haven't other people?'.

And castles made of sand melt in to the sea, eventually (JMH)

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lewis page shut the hell up

do hope armchair nuclear experts, writing from safety and comfort on the other side of the world will put a sock in it now.

regardless of whether or not japan is experiencing "another chernobyl", what is going on at fukishima can hardly be described as a resounding success for the japanese and indeed world nuclear industry, already beset with scandal, mistrust and straight up disaster.

commentators tend to forget the enormous social impact of nuclear incidents. thousands upon thousands of people have been displaced. there is no certainty here, no gurantee of safety and no end in sight. we cannot predict the unpredictable.

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Social impacts are socially constructed

Much as I distrust the reporting on this incident, I distrust it all equally. It's not all under control, but we're not all going to die horrible cancerous deaths. Measuring the badness of an incident by the panic it causes ignores the panic-promoters among us, who are essentially useless.

I would prefer to count dead bodies, and count lost dollars. These plants are ruined, but in their plausible worst case outcome, won't kill that many people compared to other sources of energy that we use happily and calmly use every day. It just happens that they do it all at once, with cameras rolling, and explosions.

Coal has to be mined -- perhaps you've noticed reports of underground miners killed in accidents? Aboveground mining, scrapes the top off of mountains (but those mountains were worthless, so it's ok, right?). Either way, burning all that coals spews enough radioactive material into the air to run quite a few nuke plants each year.

Oil, we have oil rig accidents, at a steady pace. Control of oil, not a technical consequence, but certainly a consequence, kills thousands (I direct your attention to Operation Iraqi Liberation). Burning the oil, we happily drive cars and trucks that run down thousands of pedestrians each year in the US alone -- and that's basically ok, because do we see 24/7 news coverage of the ongoing pedestrian carnage? We could drive more carefully, but that would inconvenience us, so we don't, and we are ok with the outcomes.

That said, when we build more nuke plants, I really want to see a design that is walk-away-safe (several are advertised to have this property, the one that looks most attractive to me is LFTR). One of the spiels about our nuke plants at the time of Chernobyl was that it was "designed wrong" (having to do with the graphite moderator, details elude me at the moment) whereas our were "designed right", but I'm having a hard time believing that a design which requires the continuous circulation of cooling water ("or else") is designed right.

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Unhappy

Re: lewis page shut the hell up

"commentators tend to forget the enormous social impact of nuclear incidents. thousands upon thousands of people have been displaced. there is no certainty here, no gurantee of safety and no end in sight. we cannot predict the unpredictable."

This also applies to Oil refineries and to some extent hydro-electric dams (just ask the occupants of the Rhuer valley from 1943)

So unless we all want to go back to candels and horse and cart, big thinks that can go bang and devistate large areas of land are a fact of life.

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Anonymous Coward

It used generally to be the case that...

'The designers' knew more about 'the process' in the first few months/years of operation and gradually expertise transferred to the operators - that is the production, development and maintenance folk - as they were the people who lived with it on a daily basis and fed the dragon.

As time passed the external designers local knowledge was diminished until it became history. And this was good enough except in the case were things went wrong before the process was retired. If something went wrong then you either made do with what knowledge you had locally or called in expensive consultants who may, or may not, have had a clue. The quality of the documentation and maintenance information was critical in these cases.

I'm certain that the people are doing the very best they can in the circumstances but there is a natural secrecy and optimism, especially if things are going wrong. We will find out and must hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Trite, I know.

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Alert

Stupid or devious?

Whilst I am quite a long way down the scale towards Lewis Page's point of view, I have to agree that the lack of anything approaching information coming out from the company is either a) terrible public relations, in that they aren't doing any, or b) a sign that there is some arse-covering going on at the top, probably to do with management decisions regarding the maintenance of the backup systems and availability of relevant materials.

Doesn't anyone have the authority to send external observers in, and if not, why not?

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FAIL

Just how...

... stupid is the guy who wrote the propaganda article about the big triumph that is Fukushima for the nuclear energy industry feeling now?

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Concrete shell?

Which bit is that, on the diagrams?

You might have a word with Lewis page, perhaps?

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WTF?

Here's an idea or two...

Why don't Rik and Lewis just have a punch-up to decide whether the coverage of this on El Reg is going to be all BBC-style scary stuff or Nuclear-power-is-just-fluffy-kittens niceness.

Once that's sorted, can the rest of the world's journalists stop being such sensationalist gobshites and actually start reporting more actual facts and giving more coverage to other matters - including the other major issues in Japan such as what's happening with the rescue efforts, the situation with the refinery fires, etc.

And finally can the massed ranks of the commenters here stop having their self-obsessed, opinionated slanging matches on this topic and just STFU until some halfway decent facts emerge. Alternatively, if you're all so bloody clever and know so fucking much about it, why don't you get your sorry arse on a plane to Japan and go and help the poor buggers at the Fukushima plant.

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@adrianww

So, we're not entitled to comment why? Because _you_ think that it's being sensationalist to worry about a nuclear accident which is now somewhere between 5 & 7 on the scale of nuclear accidents. The fact that as of writing, 15 people have voted up this piece of nonsense amazes me. I'm not sure how I'm being self-obsessed - although I will accept that I have an opinion on the matter, which is of amazement and concern. Japan is undergoing a national emergency compounded enormously by having to evacuate 100s of 1000s of people from a nuclear emergency situation. So, yes, you opinionated, sorry-arsed gobshite, I have an opinion, and yes, I'm bloody clever, even if the Japanese govt. or the plant operator are preventing me from knowing so (deleted) about it.

Cretin!

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Stop

It all depends...

...on whether you want to comment on the matter, bringing some interesting and/or new point or perspective to the discussion, or possibly providing pointers to other useful sources of information that you have found, or whether you just want to be another one of the countless wittering armchair pundits on both sides of the argument who seem to be more interested in furthering their own techno/eco-political viewpoint rather than giving proper rational consideration to what is a massive humanitarian disaster on all levels.

At the end of the day, the situation at Fukushima is bad, it certainly appears to be worsening and if it isn't brought under control the consequences may indeed be catastrophic. But on the scale of what has already happened and what is continuing to happen as a result of a truly massive natural disaster, that's just another particularly shitty aspect of an immensely shitty picture. As you quite rightly point out.

Unfortunately, balance and perspective of that sort seem to be alien to most of the mainstream media and a noticeable percentage of the people posting comments here (and elsewhere). Many of the comment threads attached to any onine reporting of Fukushima at the moment come across like a bunch of kids yelling at each other in a playground. I did hope that comments on The Register might be a bit better than most (and, I suppose to be fair, they possibly are). So I do keep on coming back and wading through it all to see if there is some new bit of real information that can aid my understanding of what is happening. But the constant pro/anti rehashing of the same old bollocks, based on many assumptions, much dogma and more often than not little real knowledge, does get tedious.

So to summarise, I don't have a problem with opinions, just with all the bloody stupid arguing about who lit the match (or whether matches should even be allowed at all) when the damned building is still on fire and bits of flaming debris are still falling down around our collective ears (so to speak).

(And, yes, I know Lewis Page didn't help, but if you've read The Register for any length of time, you know where most of the regulars are coming from and how much salt to add...)

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Quick

Someone tell Lewis Page so he can spin it as a triumph for nuclear power.

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Unusual for the French to step out of line

Fancy the French stepping out of line and panicking first having also told their Japan based citizens to run for the hills as the sky is falling in.

How unlike them.

Is anyone else thinking Curd Munching Capitulation Simians?

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fancy...

Fancy a Briton using utterly threadbare national stereotypes.

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Unhappy

Lewis Page Was Right!!

Warning!: Incoming Sarcasm!!!

The situation at Fukushima nuclear plant is so routine that the Japanese have sent the last 50 workers at the site home and they have told the U.S. that since nothing else newsworthy is going on there, the plant can be used for American military excercises.

Either that, or the Japanese have evacuated the last 50 workers because of radiation spikes, 33% of the core in unit 2 has melted or received severe damage from melting, a second fire has started among the now exposed spent fuel rods in unit 4 has started and is driving radiation to 167 times the average annual dose at the site, the Japanese are now concerned that the reactor vessels in both units 2 and 3 are leaking and the Japanese government has approached the U.S. military about gaining access to U.S. military NBC (nuclear/biological/chemical warfare) vehicles and suits or having trained U.S. NBC units go onsite at the plant to try to get the situation under control.

And by the way, supposedly two Japanese plant workers went missing after yesterday's third explosion at Fukushima, and they have not yet been found.

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Black Helicopters

oh no...

and on top of everything all the infrastructure needed for any possible mitigation has been destroyed..

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Bronze badge

re: lack of information.

The Japanese government are at it too -

the other morning at 1:02am GMT there was an earthquake (confirmed as it was felt by people over a 200 mile radius) the USGS listed it as a 5.8 I believe. But the guy who speaks on the TV who I gather is some sort of country leader but is incredibly irritating (almost as much as the very computerised sounding translator voices we have to listen to everyday) stated it was NOT an earthquake but a landslide......

If you are interested - here are the stats on the Earthquakes in Japan:

http://www.bordersweather.co.uk/wxjapan.php

Also note that since the Japan earthquake - Alaska, Hawaii, Northern California, Puerto Rico and Mexico are becoming quite active - and I don't expect this to be over for a long time.

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At last, we finally nail down the problem

Nuclear energy is infallible. The humans that use it are not.

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...it's like

Some deadly game of 'Whack-A-Reactor'

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Happy

So far, so expected.

Japanese "unwelcome news information management" is a superposition of the worst instincts that a mixed French/Soviet/Pentagon committee could come up with.

Happyface because it's on the meeting room plaque.

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Re: "TEPCO's press office has been less than helpful"

Hey, they're being really helpful now! They're posting a status update on the hour every single hour - - for the Daini reactor complex, that is; the /other/ one at Fukushima, the one that completely and successfully shut down two days ago. Apparently it's still completely and successfully shut down, well no duh. I guess copypasting the same prefabricated text every hour is their idea of "communicating better".

Whereas the Daiichi complex, where all the shit is going on - not a word since the report you mention (of yet another explosion).

Way to go, TEPCO.

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WTF?

Bizarre

As of the last time I checked, which was some hours ago, it appeared that the story of a possibly cracked containment vessel at #2 was from Reuters. Could Reuters have gotten some bogus information? It's hard to imagine that TEPCO brass could keep a lid on this. If small but measurable radiation has been detected from the minimal amounts released by the ventings, this would mean orders of magnitude more leakage. Surely radiation levels just outside the evacuation area would have soared by now. There's no way that could be kept under wraps.

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Evacuations in China?

I would have thought the pervailing winds were the wrong way to effect china....

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Alert

Ummm...say what?

"[...] it is vanishingly unlikely that such an explosive catastrophe as occurred on April 26, 1986 in Ukraine will befall the residents of Japan."

If it's vanishingly unlikely, that would imply that the unlikely hood of the event is vanishing...which would imply that its very likely that the catastrophe would occur....

Is that what you meant, Rik?

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(sigh)

bet those articles about the "triumph" of daiichi are looking a little lame right now...

I cannot help but notice how the black curtain fell... now there are no images of the fire, nor the explosions in 2 and 4. After No. 2's explosion... the most recent thing you can find in the web is a satellite picture showing the complex after No.3's blast. Is it that bad? what worries me the most is the increasing vagueness of the reports when it should be quite the opposite.,.

I basically live on the other side of the world and i'm angry...

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Mr paranoia

Perhaps the black curtain fell because the reporters had to fallback due to the radiation spike?

Then again maybe it's truly a conspiracy oh noes!

Go and cower under your tin foil hat.

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Flame

NOW they tell us!

I thought the wife of a friend was overreacting when she took the kids and went to Kyushu. Now I think she just understood the so-called authorities quite well.

Anyway, I think we can drag the Americans into the story after all. My take is that the fundamental source of this problem was the selection of the fundamentally unsafe HPWC reactors--under American pressure. Probably bribes, too.

I'm making occasional comments at:

http://glimpses-of-familiar-japan.blogspot.com/2011/03/earthquake-adventures.html

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FAIL

We don't need no stinking titles

If this goes on like that, Lewis Page will look pretty foolish soon. That's the only good news about it, and I wish it was different.

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Boffin

In Chernobyl...

what is thought to have happened,

when testing a safety procedure to see if the running down turbine could provide enough power to the coolant pumps while the diesel generators started up.

During the experiment the reactor got too cold and the fuel rods were withdrawn from the moderating graphite, but the system was slightly unstable and only keep under control by the automatic control system.

The slow moving coolant became superheated and started to boil in places. Some one hit the panic button which drops the fuel rods back into the moderating graphite, but the steam from the very hot rods into hot water blew the rods out of the graphite.

Things got so hot the graphite split the water into hydrogen and carbon monoxide and the pressure ruptured the vessel allowing the hot gases to react with the air (causing an explosion).

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WTF?

Chernobyl

"There's one bit of history, however, that TEPCO won't repeat: due to the radically different designs of the Chernobyl and Fukushima power plants, it is vanishingly unlikely that such an explosive catastrophe as occurred on April 26, 1986 in Ukraine will befall the residents of Japan."

You only got one our of two things correct. It isn't really the design so much (although that's part of it; the overpressure mechanisms are different) - it's the training. Fukushima is the result of a series of high-order natural disasters and bad luck, while Chernobyl was a man-made disaster through the incomptence of the engineers involved.

So no, this can easily get a lot worse, but there will have to be some more extreme and unlikely events before there's even a chance that this could be "another Chernobyl".

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WTF?

"We don't know enough"?

That's REALLY not something you want to hear about any aspect of a potential nuclear disaster.

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WTF?

French?

What's the French angle on this? They seem to be very keen to pump up the hysteria - the industry minister is now saying :

"Let's not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control (of the situation). That is our analysis, in any case, it's not what they are saying."

Also now recommending that French nationals leave Japan/Tokyo.

Now it may just be me but I smell a rat here.

The French have been saying the reactor containment is DEFINITELY breached for days now. Also trying to bump up the incident rating from 4 to 6, which nobody else seems to believe is justified.

I don't for one second think the French industry minister and head of their nuclear inspectorate are acting altruistically so whats the deal?

I wonder if the French are competing with the Japanese on any new nuclear contracts right now?

Anyone know?

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Black Helicopters

Who to trust?

The French have far more credibility than Tepco does. How many times has Tepco been caught telling porkys during this event? How many Tepco execs have been fired for lying about safety? What is Tepco's porky history?

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Anonymous Coward

Well I dunno...

... but I rather think that if you probed into the French nuclear industry's records you'd find much the same. Just like every other industry on the planet, money determines what happens, nothing else.

When the USA start making evacuation noises then I'll believe it as the US has a hell of a lot more contact/influence with the Japanese govt than the French.

I still say something smells about the way the French have been pumping up the hysteria.

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Happy

Re: French

Also beware of French Public Officials playing to the crowd at press confrences, it usually means that they or their buddies are planning to run for elected office.

PS

Rather than giving guesstimate press releases, the french nuclear safety chaps should be looking at their new Aircraft Carrier, which is closer to home than Japan.

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Anonymous Coward

Bananas

Would it be possible to have El-Reg adopt the banana as their standard measurement for radiation doses please ... all these seiverts & bequerels are confusing.

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@Bananas

Good idea.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banana_equivalent_dose

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Dead Vulture

Lewis Thriumph

Henceforth, all disasters routed in sheer human technology arrogance shall be known as a "Lewis Triumph".

Think "Titanic" and "unsinkable" and you have the best example yet of a Lewis Triumph.

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Stop

You are lazy

Go back and read his article properly, I know it's three pages long but if you take your time you may understand that he said if...

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Anonymous Coward

Fukushima Nuclear Accident – 16 March update

Appears to be under control.

This is an update of the situation as of 10 am JST Wednesday 16 March.

First, the situation is clearly (but slowly) stabilising. As each day passes, the amount of thermal heat (caused by radioactive decay of the fission products) that remains in the reactor fuel assemblies decreases exponentially.........

http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/03/16/fukushima-16-march-summary/

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WTF?

The Germans aren't so sure...

http://www.grs.de/informationen-zur-lage-den-japanischen-kernkraftwerken-fukushima-onagawa-und-tokai

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FAIL

Under control? Really?

According to the Tokyo power company, the situation has been "under control" since it first started.

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