09-25-2022  11:23 pm   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

After a Rocky Start Oregon Drug Decriminalization Eyes Progress

When voters passed the state's pioneering Drug Addiction Treatment andRecovery Act in 2020, the emphasis was on treatment as much as on decriminalizing possession of personal-use amounts of heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and other drugs. But progress has been slow and Oregon still has among the highest addiction rates in the country yet over half of addiction treatment programs in the state don't have enough staffing and funding to help those who want help

Portland, Oregon, to Use Microphones to Track Gunshots

The decision to advance a pilot program with ShotSpotter was made after Wheeler met with Police Chief Chuck Lovell.

Oregon Students' Math, Reading Skills Plummet Post-Pandemic

The tests administered last spring were the first reliable comparison to pre-pandemic testing done in 2019.

Faith Community, Activists Introduce ‘Evidence-Based’ Gun Control Measure to Ballot

Proposed law would require permits to purchase, limit magazine rounds.

NEWS BRIEFS

Rep. Janelle Bynum Champions Oregon Business and Sets Sights on Strengthening Key Industries

Rep. Bynum invited leaders and experts to discuss ways the state can champion businesses of all sizes, expand broadband, bolster the...

PPS Renames Headquarters

The central office will be named after Matthew Prophet, Portland Public School's first Black Superintendent from 1982-1992,...

Affordable Housing Plan to Go Before Seattle Voters

If I-135 passes it would create a public development authority ...

Merkley, Wyden: Over $3.2 Million in Federal Funds to Address Domestic Violence and Expand Services for Survivors 

The awful threat of domestic violence undermines the safety of far too many households and communities in Oregon and nationwide ...

Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Announces Partnership to Advance Genomics Research at the Nation's Four Historically Black Medical Colleges

New partnership with Charles Drew University College of Medicine, Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, and...

Police: Man dead in shooting outside Portland hotel

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A man was killed in a shooting outside a hotel in Portland early Sunday, police said. No arrests were immediately made in the shooting, which was reported at around 3:30 a.m. The shooting in the northeast part of the city took place a few blocks...

After rocky start, hopes up in Oregon drug decriminalization

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Two years after Oregon residents voted to decriminalize hard drugs and dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to treatment, few people have requested the services and the state has been slow to channel the funds. When voters passed the state's pioneering Drug...

LSU survives Daniels' injury scare in romp over New Mexico

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The LSU defense held New Mexico to 88 total yards and the Tigers survived an injury scare to starting quarterback Jayden Daniels in a 38-0 victory Saturday night at Tiger Stadium. “Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, three times is a habit,” LSU...

Bridges' OT fumble recovery seals Auburn's win over Missouri

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Cayden Bridges recovered a fumble in the end zone to give Auburn a 17-14 overtime victory over Missouri in an SEC opener on Saturday. Missouri (2-2) running back Nathaniel Peat dropped the football before a potential game-winning touchdown, and Bridges landed on...

OPINION

The Cruelty of Exploiting Vulnerable People for Political Advantage

There is always a new low for Trump Republicans. And that is pretty frightening. ...

The Military to American Youth: You Belong to Me

The U.S. military needs more than just money in its annual budget. It needs access to America’s young people as well — their wallets, their bodies, and their minds. ...

Financial Fairness at Risk With Proposed TD Bank-First Horizon Merger

As banks grow larger through mergers and focus on growing online and mobile services, serious concerns emerge on how fair and how accessible banking will be to traditionally underserved Black and Latino communities. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Democrats in Florida seek to win over Latinos on gun control

MIAMI (AP) — Annette Taddeo walked to a podium overlooking Miami’s Biscayne Bay and described to her audience how she had fled terrorism as a teenager in Colombia and now feared for the safety of her 16-year-old daughter at an American public school. A blue and bright orange bus...

Biden administration launches environmental justice office

WARRENTON, N.C. (AP) — President Joe Biden’s top environment official visited what is widely considered the birthplace of the environmental justice movement Saturday to unveil a national office that will distribute billion in block grants to underserved communities burdened by pollution. ...

Ex-Nevada deputy attorney general indicted on murder charge

HONOLULU (AP) — A Hawaii grand jury on Friday indicted a former deputy Nevada attorney general on charges of second-degree murder in connection with the 50-year-old cold case of a Honolulu woman killed in 1972. Tudor Chirila, 77, is in custody in Reno, Nevada, where he is fighting...

ENTERTAINMENT

New Mexico allows funds for prosecutions in 'Rust' shooting

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has granted funds to pay for possible prosecutions connected to last year's fatal film-set shooting of a cinematographer by actor Alec Baldwin, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported Thursday. The state Board of Finance greenlit more than 7,000 to...

Ari Lennox's 'age/sex/location' revels in infatuation

NEW YORK (AP) — Writer’s block confined Ari Lennox during the creation of her latest album, “age/sex/location,” but her label head and friend, rap superstar J. Cole, suggested she begin journaling to unlock her creativity. “He was like, ‘I just want you to write and just...

Early Streisand nightclub recording remastered for release

NEW YORK (AP) — A series of 1962 performances by Barbra Streisand at a Manhattan nightclub before she became a superstar have been remastered and will be released this fall. “Barbra Streisand — Live at the Bon Soir” features songs from a three night stint at the Bon Soir...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Bills would curtail objections at future Jan. 6 counts

WASHINGTON (AP) — Members of Congress have officially objected to the results in four of the last six...

Japanese leader's trip to China in '72 was diplomatic gamble

TOKYO (AP) — The Japanese leader who normalized relations with China 50 years ago feared for his life when he...

False claims, threats fuel poll worker sign-ups for midterms

ATLANTA (AP) — Outraged by false allegations of fraud against a Georgia elections employee in 2020, Amanda...

Iran summons UK envoy amid anti-government protests

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday it summoned Britain's ambassador to...

Canada struggles to restore power after storm; body found

TORONTO (AP) — Hundreds of thousands of people in Atlantic Canada remained without power Sunday and officials...

Cuba prepares evacuations as strengthening TS Ian nears

HAVANA (AP) — Authorities in Cuba suspended classes in Pinar del Rio province and said they will begin...

By The Skanner News | The Skanner News

SOMA, Japan (AP) -- Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami.

In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan's northeastern coast. The region was shattered by Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, plunged millions into misery and pummeled the world's third-largest economy.

The Skanner News Video: Raw Video of Fire in Northeast Japan

Japanese officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency that the reactor fire was in a fuel storage pond - an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool - and that "radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere." Long after the fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the pool might still be boiling, though the reported levels of radiation had dropped dramatically by the end of the day.

The Skanner News Video: Radiation Soars After Fire

Late Tuesday, officials at the plant said they were considering asking for help from the U.S. and Japanese militaries to spray water from helicopters into the pool.

That reactor, Unit 4, had been shut down before the quake for maintenance.

If the water boils, it could evaporate, exposing the rods. The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said. But they acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers. They also confirmed that the walls of the storage pool building were damaged.

Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water. It had not been emitted directly by fuel rods, which would be far more virulent, they said.

"It's not good, but I don't think it's a disaster," said Steve Crossley, an Australia-based radiation physicist.

Even the highest detected rates were not automatically harmful for brief periods, he said.

"If you were to spend a significant amount of time - in the order of hours - that could be significant," Crossley said.

Less clear were the results of the blast in Unit 2, near a suppression pool, which removes heat under a reactor vessel, said plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. The nuclear core was not damaged but the bottom of the surrounding container may have been, said Shigekazu Omukai, a spokesman for Japan's nuclear safety agency.

Though Kan and other officials urged calm, Tuesday's developments fueled a growing panic in Japan and around the world amid widespread uncertainty over what would happen next. In the worst case scenario, one or more of the reactor cores would completely melt down, a disaster that could spew large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.

"I worry a lot about fallout," said Yuta Tadano, a 20-year-old pump technician at the Fukushima plant, who said he was in the complex when the quake hit.

"If we could see it, we could escape, but we can't," he said, cradling his 4-month-old baby, Shoma, at an evacuation center.

The radiation fears added to the catastrophe that has been unfolding in Japan, where at least 10,000 people are believed to have been killed and millions of people were facing a fifth night with little food, water or heating in near-freezing temperatures and snow as they dealt with the loss of homes and loved ones. Up to 450,000 people are in temporary shelters.

Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken Japan's northeast and Tokyo since the original offshore quake, including one Tuesday night whose epicenter was hundreds of miles (kilometers) southwest and inland.

Officials have only been able to confirm a far lower toll - about 3,300 killed - but those who were involved in the 2004 Asian tsunami said there was no question more people died and warned that, like the earlier disaster, many thousands may never be found.

Asia's richest country hasn't seen such hardship since World War II. The stock market plunged for a second day and a spate of panic buying saw stores running out of necessities, raising government fears that hoarding may hurt the delivery of emergency food aid to those who really need it.

In a rare bit of good news, rescuers found two survivors Tuesday in the rubble left by the tsunami that hit the northeast, including a 70-year-old woman whose house was tossed off its foundation.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex, along that battered coastline, has been the focus of the worries. Workers there have been desperately trying to use seawater to cool the fuel rods in the complex's three reactors, all of which lost their cooling ability after Friday's quake and tsunami.

On Tuesday, the complex was hit by its third explosion since Friday, and then a fire in a separate reactor.

Afterward, officials in Ibaraki, a neighboring prefecture just south of the area, said up to 100 times the normal levels of radiation were detected Tuesday. While those figures are worrying if there is prolonged exposure, they are far from fatal.

Tokyo reported slightly elevated radiation levels, but officials said the increase was too small to threaten the 39 million people in and around the capital, about 170 miles (270 kilometers) away.

Amid concerns about radiation, Austria moved its embassy from Tokyo to Osaka.

Meanwhile, Air China and China Eastern Airlines canceled flights to Tokyo and two cities in the disaster area. Germany's Lufthansa airlines is also diverting its two daily flights to Tokyo to other Japanese cities. None mentioned radiation concerns, instead giving no explanation or citing the airports' limited capacities.

Closer to the stricken nuclear complex, the streets in the coastal city of Soma were empty as the few residents who remained there heeded the government's warning to stay indoors.

Kan and other officials warned there is a danger of more leaks and told people living within 19 miles (30 kilometers) of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex to stay indoors to avoid exposure that could make people sick.

"Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told residents in the danger zone.

"These are figures that potentially affect health. There is no mistake about that," he said.

Weather forecasts for Fukushima were for snow and wind Tuesday evening, blowing southwest toward Tokyo, then shifting and blowing east out to sea. That's important because it shows which direction a possible nuclear cloud might blow.

Some 70,000 people had already been evacuated from a 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius from the Dai-ichi complex. About 140,000 remain in the new danger zone.

Officials said 70 workers were at the complex, struggling with its myriad problems. The workers, all of them wearing protective gear, are being rotated in and out of the danger zone quickly to reduce their radiation exposure.

Another 800 staff were evacuated. The fires and explosions at the reactors have injured 15 workers and military personnel and exposed up to 190 people to elevated radiation.

Temperatures in at least two of the complex's reactors, units 5 and 6, were also slightly elevated, Edano said.

"The power for cooling is not working well and the temperature is gradually rising, so it is necessary to control it," he said.

Fourteen pumps have been brought in to get seawater into the other reactors. They are not yet pumping water into Unit 4 but are trying to figure out how to do that.

In Tokyo, slightly higher-than-normal radiation levels were detected Tuesday but officials insisted there are no health dangers.

"The amount is extremely small, and it does not raise health concerns. It will not affect us," Takayuki Fujiki, a Tokyo government official said.

Edano said the radiation readings had fallen significantly by the evening.

Japanese government officials are being rightly cautious, said Donald Olander, professor emeritus of nuclear engineering at University of California at Berkeley. He believed even the heavily elevated levels of radiation around Dai-ichi are "not a health hazard." But without knowing specific dose levels, he said it was hard to make judgments.

"Right now it's worse than Three Mile Island," Olander said. But it's nowhere near the levels released during Chernobyl.

On Three Mile Island, the radiation leak was held inside the containment shell - thick concrete armor around the reactor. The Chernobyl reactor had no shell and was also operational when the disaster struck. The Japanese reactors automatically shut down when the quake hit and are encased in containment shells.

The impact of the earthquake and tsunami dragged down stock markets. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average plunged for a second day Tuesday, nose-diving more than 10 percent to close at 8,605.15 while the broader Topix lost more than 8 percent.

To lessen the damage, Japan's central bank made two cash injections totaling 8 trillion yen ($98 billion) Tuesday into the money markets after pumping in $184 billion on Monday.

Initial estimates put repair costs in the tens of billions of dollars, costs that would likely add to a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of gross domestic product, is the biggest among industrialized nations.

The Dai-ichi plant is the most severely affected of three nuclear complexes that were declared emergencies after suffering damage in Friday's quake and tsunami, raising questions about the safety of such plants in coastal areas near fault lines and adding to global jitters over the industry.

 

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