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Now being referred to as "The Fukushima 50", the 50-70 onsite workers at the Fukashima nuclear complex in Japan are true heroes--the first responders putting themselves at most risk to help others in their own country and across the planet.

This story from The Guardian tells it well:

Some are assessing the damage and radiation levels caused by the explosions, while others cool stricken reactors with seawater to try to avert a potentially catastrophic release of radiation.

The workers are the nuclear power industry's equivalent of frontline soldiers, exposing themselves to considerable risks while 80 of their evacuated colleagues watch from a safe distance. Fifteen people on the site, including members of the self-defence force, have been injured in the blasts.

Additional info from the same Guardian article:

...An NHK expert spelled out what that "very grave situation" meant for the workers. A level of 100mSv per hour could cause infertility in men without protective gear within a short time, for example – though other experts suggested any affected technicians should recover from ill-effects because they would be withdrawn if they had been exposed to high levels. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said later that 150 workers had been monitored for radiation levels, and 23 had undergone decontamination.

At midday, there was one welcome victory as workers extinguished the fire at unit No 4. The priority switched back to cooling operations at reactors 1 to 3. But by late afternoon, there was a fresh blow. Kyodo reported that the spent nuclear fuel pool at Unit 4 might be boiling, with the water level falling sharply...

From BBC's the world (as I currently listen to it):

"These are very brave people."

So prayers for the resourceful, brave, cold, frightened, homeless, hungry, and thirsty in northern Japan recovering from the quake and tsunami.

Prayers for all those living in Japan and suffering from uncertainty.

And prayers for the Fukushima 50.

Updated by akmk at Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 06:16 PM PDT

Fire again breaks out at Reactor #4.  Within the last hour from L.A. Times.

"Another fire at Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex broke out early Wednesday and authorities said about 70% of another reactor's fuel rods had been damaged by the spate of accidents and breakdowns since Friday's earthquake and tsunami.

The ominous disclosure, after authorities insisted throughout the previous day that damage to the overheating reactors was negligible, compounded a sense of escalating hazards and fear five days after the disasters expected to take historic peacetime tolls on Japan's people and economy.

"An estimated 70 percent of the nuclear fuel rods have been damaged at the troubled No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima (Daiichi) No. 1 nuclear power plant, and 33 percent at the No. 2 reactor," Kyodo news agency reported Wednesday, quoting an unnamed official of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. that operates the stricken power complex..."

Updated by akmk at Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 07:54 PM PDT
Updated by akmk at Wed Mar 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM PDT

As a reward for their efforts, the Japanese government has awarded the Fukushima 50 an increased allowance of their radiation exposure.

...Yet on Wednesday, Japan's Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare raised the maximum legal exposure for nuclear workers to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts. It described the move as "unavoidable due to the circumstances."...

Updated by akmk at Wed Mar 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM PDT

As a reward for their efforts, the Japanese government has awarded the Fukushima 50 an increased allowance of their radiation exposure.

...Yet on Wednesday, Japan's Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare raised the maximum legal exposure for nuclear workers to 250 millisieverts from 100 millisieverts. It described the move as "unavoidable due to the circumstances..."

Originally posted to akmk on Tue Mar 15, 2011 at 01:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK, 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Information and Assistance, and Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs.

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